Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry offers Theology on Tap

By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer

Kitty Hoynes Pub & Restaurant, Armory Square in Syracuse was the setting for some stimulating discussion about faith and daily life on July 9.

The discussion was sparked by a humorous and animated  presentation by actress/comedienne Siobhan Fallon Hogan, who recently played secretary Blanche Gunderson in the movie New In Town. Hogan discussed some of the acting roles she has played and how she has turned down a number of roles because they conflicted with her moral beliefs.

Hogan appeared on the television series Saturday Night Live in the early ‘90s and as Elaine’s roommate on Seinfeld. The talented performer has played memorable roles in such movies as Forrest Gump, Men in Black, Daddy Day Care and Dogville.

She was born in Syracuse, grew up in Cazenovia and graduated from Le Moyne College. After earning a master’s degree in fine arts from the Catholic University of America in 1972, Hogan trained with the prestigious off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Company. She currently resides with her husband Peter Hogan and their three children, Bernadette, Peter and Sinead, in Middletown, N.J.

Her presentation was the first in the Theology on Tap series offered by the diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The four-week summer program featured speakers, conversation and theology for young adults.

Bob Walters, director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, was very pleased with the turnout that evening. “I expected 25 young people to attend, but many more ended up coming,” he said.

Dan Zinger, a prospective seminarian and a parishioner at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Liverpool, described Hogan’s presentation that evening as “witty and very straight-forward.”

“It’s a secular world that we live in,” said Zinger. “I wanted to see how a Hollywood star deals with standing up for her faith and values. It was nice to hear how she stands up for what she believes in.”

Since its inception in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1981, Theology on Tap has proven to be a successful vehicle for reaching young adults who are interested in learning more about their faith, coming together to share community and feeling welcomed and valued in the Catholic Church. It is a method of invitation, based on a spirit of hospitality, which creates a space for people in their 20s and 30s to explore how faith in Christ can speak to their circumstances.

The program has spread to more than 180 parishes and to other countries, including Canada, Italy, Taiwan, the Philippines, Ireland and Hong Kong.

Kristin McDermott, youth minister at St. Mary’s in Minoa and* St. Francis of Assisi in Bridgeport, said she brought two college-aged students with her to the event so they would have a chance to meet and mingle with other young people. “It’s always good to share fellowship,” McDermott said. “The atmosphere here at Kitty Hoynes and the context are good.”

Hogan began her presentation by explaining how her parents raised her with great faith by setting a good example. “We always attended Mass and said the rosary, even on vacation,” she  recalled. “As a result, my faith has shaped the choices that I have made because it’s so ingrained in me.”

Hogan described how the director of her last movie, New In Town, challenged her belief in Catholicism. At the beginning of the filming of the movie, her director asked Hogan and some of her fellow actors to meet him for dinner. When questioned by him about her Catholic faith, Hogan defended it. “I get challenged everywhere,” said Hogan. “I think that people have the idea that you have to hide your faith, but I think that the more proud you are of it, people are not going to shun you or think badly of you. Don’t be afraid of telling people about your faith.”

She told those in attendance that her strong faith had helped her through some difficult situations. “Some crazy things have happened to me,” she said. “But because of my prayer, faith, and commitment, things have worked out.”

Hogan concluded her presentation by stressing the importance of following Christ in order to live a happy and simple life. “You can’t help but make right decisions and your life will be easier for you,” she said.

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