The Canadian Province of Jesuits hosted its first beer-tasting event on June 5 in Toronto’s historic Distillery District. The event was organized in response to Fr. Arturo Sosa’s apostolic guidelines to accompany young people. Photo by Michael Romen

Sharing pints with priests

By  Michael Romen, Youth Speak News
  • June 13, 2019

Madeline Dawson knew she could count on the Jesuits to throw a great party. 

The Canadian Province of Jesuits hosted its inaugural beer-tasting event June 5 in the Mill Street Beer Hall in Toronto’s Distillery District. The evening brought together faith and community in a uniquely casual way, with four kinds of beer, paired with members of the Jesuit community and a playlist of jams from the 2000s. 

“The Jesuits are always so personable so you can come to such a lively event, but still have insightful conversations,” said 23-year-old Dawson. 

The idea for the event follows on the success of other young adult events like Theology on Tap, giving the Jesuit community an opportunity to meet young people where they’re at. 

“We do a number of events that are more formal, standard, kind of typical — we have a scotch-nosing, we have an annual dinner and they’re very well attended,” said Barry Leidl, director of the Jesuits’ Office of Advancement. “But we wanted to do something that kind of showcased that the Jesuits were involved in not just formal stuff, but also ministry to regular people. Beer tasting seemed more on par, accessible to the people they minister to.”

In February, general superior Fr. Arturo Sosa released the Universal Apostolic Preferences for the Society of Jesus, guiding principles for the order’s next decade of ministry. 

“To accompany young people demands of us authenticity of life, spiritual depth and openness to sharing the life-mission that gives meaning to who we are and what we do,” he wrote. 

This was the goal of the evening. As the tables were filled with hors d’oeuvres and beer, young professionals from across the Archdiocese of Toronto broke bread — or mini-sliders and pot-stickers — with alumni from Jesuit schools and other sponsors from the order.

The evening began with brief remarks from Fr. John O’Brien, assistant vocations director, and scholastic Kevin Kelly, who is studying at Regis College in the University of Toronto.

“If you think about Jesuits or priests in general, you think of older people,” said Leidl. “For a while, the average age of Jesuits in Canada was over 65. Part of the issue is that we’re trying to reach out to people that are the same age as our youngest Jesuits.”

O’Brien, 42, had a career in education before answering the call to the priesthood. Kelly worked for a pharmaceutical company for 12 years before entering the Order, where he takes part in the Ignatius Spirituality Project, a community-building project reaching out to men and women recovering from homelessness and addiction. 

Robert Glowacz, customs officer with the Canada Border Services Agency, 39, heard about the night during O Brien’s retreat just days prior. 

“I came in with minimal expectations except for good craft beer and good food — which there was a lot of. I’m impressed by the turnout and the laidback hospitality.

(Romen, 24, is a fourth-year English and Classics student at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont.)

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