Uncorked Theology Goes Digital
A Durban parish has taken its popular Q&A and “Theology Uncorked” sessions into the digital domain during lockdown, broadcasting on its YouTube channel.
St Joseph’s parish in Morningside launched its Q&A sessions three years ago, first in its HeBrews coffee shop holding 25 people, said parish priest Fr Brett Williams.
They proved so popular that the sessions were moved into the parish hall to accommodate the number of people wishing to attend.
Fr Williams had scheduled a couple of Q&A sessions for this year, together with monthly Theology Uncorked sessions.
The latter are “monthly gatherings, with a glass of wine and some snacks, which would allow us to go a little deeper into a topical issue or theological subject”, he explained.
“Unfortunately, we were only able to do one Theology Uncorked session — on Catholic Social Teaching — before the lockdown was imposed,” Fr Williams told The Southern Cross.
“After Easter, I thought to introduce weekly sessions so as to keep connected and involved with the parish,” he said.
These sessions take place at 19:00 on Wednesdays, live on the parish’s YouTube channel. Both Theology Uncorked and the Q&A sessions remain uploaded for later viewing (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwcXWBUVXX3JYxdw1c42XNQ/videos).
“The involvement and interest have been very good and people from all over join us—everyone is most welcome,” he said.
The Theology Uncorked concept borrows from Theology on Tap, which ran for a while in Durban pubs.
“I had presented on a number of occasions at these get-togethers with the young people in different pubs around Durban, and they had proved very popular,” Fr Williams said.
“We had always provided targeted learning platforms for deepening faith and growing spirituality, but I sensed a need for something a little more substantial and perhaps academic in terms of theology and a hunger for deeper spiritual input,” he said.
“As the Church, we must concede that many Catholic Christians are not well equipped or properly informed on their faith and spirituality.
“We have traditionally assumed that once the sacrament of confirmation was celebrated, the growing in faith and knowledge process was complete. This situation has been the undoing of a life with and in God for many and the spiritual and moral benefits that flow from connection to Jesus and the Gospel,” Fr Williams said.
The Q&A sessions are one way of addressing this.
“We began by encouraging parishioners to submit questions, which were chosen randomly ‘from a hat’ and dealt with,” Fr Williams said.
“It would seem that people really enjoy the sessions. In fact, they have become so popular that we now have Q&A sessions for the youth/young adults in the parish.”
Anyone is able to submit their questions in the chat section or by e-mail.
“I answer all the questions as best I can and if I do not know the answer, I tell them that I will get back to them next time with an answer,” Fr Williams explained.
In order to get into greater detail on some questions, the more formal, structured Theology Uncorked sessions were launched.
“I have asked people to submit ideas for subjects for greater input and discussion so that I am able to address matters that they find interesting; I really am open to anything,” Fr Williams said.
The priest thinks that the digital sessions could continue after lockdown, as “a new way of being and doing discipleship”.
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