Theology on Tap History

RENEW Theology on Tap was formed out of a partnership between RENEW International and the Office of Young Adult Ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2003. But the roots of Theology on Tap go back over 25 years to a pioneering outreach to young adults by Catholic ministry leaders.

Theology on Tap: The Beginning
The concept of Theology on Tap began in St. James Parish in Arlington Heights, IL, with a conversation in 1981 between Fr. Jack Wall and then college student Tim Leeming. Like so many others in their 20s and 30s, Tim was struggling to find life's meaning. He said, “Father, I know what I’m doing. I just don’t know why I’m doing it. Can our church help me with the 'why' questions?" Fr. Wall, working with their youth minister, Mr. Tom James, began laying out a forum for addressing those "why" questions. By the time Tim and his peers returned home from college that summer, there was a six-week speaker and discussion series in place for them at St. James. They called it “Theology on Tap,” and it was a success.

Based on this successful outreach, the Archdiocese of Chicago established its Office of Young Adult Ministry. Fr. John Cusick, a diocesan priest, and Ms. Kate DeVries, a spirited lay minister, became the director and associate director of this office, and spread Theology on Tap throughout the archdiocese and beyond.

Over the past 25+ years Fr. John Cusick and Dr. Kate DeVries have stewarded this program throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago and have watched Theology on Tap spread throughout the country and the world. They have entrusted RENEW to help them take the program to the next level and connect to more young adults than ever before.

The Partnership: RENEW Theology on Tap
In July 2003, Fr. John Cusick, Director of the Theology on Tap program, approached Msgr. Tom Kleissler, President of RENEW International, to propose a "marriage" between RENEW and Theology on Tap. Fr. Cusick and his associate Dr. Kate DeVries proposed that RENEW launch a nationwide initiative, bringing the successful Theology on Tap program- the premier program of catechesis and evangelization of young adult Catholics - throughout the country.

Fr. Cusick reached out to RENEW International because of the organization's solid national reputation and proven delivery processes in dioceses across the country. RENEW's overwhelming success in creating and delivering parish-based programs that involve large numbers of people in parishes, uniquely qualifies RENEW to launch and succeed in this ambitious undertaking.

Since this time RENEW International has developed a comprehensive process to start and/or enhance young adult ministry at the parish or diocesan level. Theology on Tap and RENEW International fit together seamlessly to provide services which strongly impact young Catholic adults, who both need and deserve this ministry.

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