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Series on tap to help young Catholics with dating

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SAN DIEGO — Are you a young adult who finds it hard to start conversations, make new friends, and even ask someone out on a date?

If so, save the date (pun intended) for the October series of “Theology on Tap.”

All young adults, ages 18 to 39, are welcome to attend any or all of the three installments, which will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, Oct. 11, 18 and 25, at Good Shepherd Parish in Mira Mesa. Attendees will enjoy tacos and craft beer while listening to each evening’s talk.

Admission is $15, including entry, food and drink. More information is available at sdcatholic.org/theologyontap.

Maricruz Flores, director of the diocesan Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry, and associate directors Pamela Poe and Brilema Perez said the need for this series was confirmed after recent encounters with young adults who spoke candidly about dating woes and expressed dissatisfaction with online dating in particular.

Flores said the topic is timelier than ever in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many young adults dealing with social anxiety after two years of social distancing.

“If it was hard to date before the pandemic, it’s even harder now,” she said.

Poe noted that human beings are “made for relationship,” even if modern culture doesn’t always provide the most positive examples. She said the purpose of the upcoming Theology on Tap series is to offer “a healthy, holistic formation in how to grow an authentic relationship.”

The Theology on Tap series will begin with “The Art of the Conversation,” co-presented by Poe and her husband, Nathan.

Perez stressed the importance of getting out of “that (dating) app mode,” where interactions are merely a way to find out how someone measures up on your “dating checklist,” and instead simply trying to have “a genuine conversation.” She said the upcoming series itself provides “a perfect opportunity for meeting people outside of the apps.”

Week Two will be dedicated to “Authentic and Virtuous Friendship,” presented by youth minister and Catholic speaker Jamie Cleaton.

“How many of us actually take the time to discern a friendship, like, ‘Is this person really good for me? Are they leading me towards Christ?’” Flores asked, offering a preview of what the series’ second installment will explore.

The final installment will be on “Dating and Relationships.” Presenters Raphy and Sara Feolino, certified relationship coaches and founders of the Journey to Marriage ministry, will offer practical advice on both beginning and developing relationships.

Perez suggested that attendees will be able to “put those skills to practice” when asking someone out to the Diocesan Young Adult Christmas Gala this December.

Theology on Tap is offered about two or three times a year in the Diocese of San Diego, with each series typically consisting of three weekly installments.

This is not the first time that Theology on Tap has explored the topic of dating and relationships. Poe noted that it was also the focus of a one-night, standalone installment in 2019, which drew more than 200 young adults.

“We saw there’s definitely a need for this,” said Poe, who began developing the idea for the upcoming series in Fall of 2021.

That series won’t be the last word on the subject either.

“We wanted to follow up (with) a continuation and accompaniment for young adults,” explained Flores, “not just to leave them hanging like, ‘Oh, here’s 10 tips for dating life. Hope everything goes well.’”

For that reason, the Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry is collaborating with the diocesan Office for Family Life and Spirituality on a one-day conference, scheduled for early March, that will build upon the insights offered by the Theology on Tap series.

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