The Star-Herald

‘Theology in The County’ returns to Caribou Sept. 18

CARIBOU, Maine — The next gathering of “Theology in The County” will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 6:30 p.m. with Fr. Kyle Doustou, pastor of the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord in Old Town and the interim director of campus ministry for the Diocese of Portland. 

Each session includes a special guest speaker and time for discussion.

“Everyone who attends has really enjoyed the idea of it,” said Theresa Bonner, director of youth ministry at the Parish of the Precious Blood, which serves the Caribou and Presque Isle areas. “The conversation flows, and the faith is just woven into it.”

Bonner originated the idea for “Theology in the County,” held at the Warehouse Bar & Grill in Caribou. The session provides all adults 18 and over with an opportunity for Catholic fellowship in a casual forum, where adults gather for challenging and relevant presentations on faith and how it applies to daily life.

“I think it’s awesome to be out in public. That’s what Jesus would have done back in the day, not just go to church on Sunday, but go out and evangelize and share the faith in the open. I think it’s awesome and powerful to be able to do that,” said Peter Deschenes of Presque Isle.

Launched last year, the gatherings were immediately popular and have continued to attract new participants, with over 50 adults or more regularly attending.

“Theology in the County” followed the roadmap of “Theology at Tim’s,” a faith-sharing group for teens which meets monthly at Tim Hortons in Presque Isle. That program will return at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22.  As word spread about the teen program’s success, Bonner was approached by adults desiring a similar opportunity.

When she was designing “Theology in the County,” she thought about what type of program might have attracted her years ago prior to her work with the church.

“If someone had invited me to come to a faith-sharing group, I would be interested, but I might not have taken that step. So, I thought, ‘What would have gotten me to go and do something?’” 

Bonner said she thinks people sometimes hesitate to participate in faith-sharing groups held in churches, fearing they may need to know more than they do, even though that isn’t the case. She says what makes “Theology in the County” work is its low-key approach.

“Going and having a beverage of your choice and sharing a meal with somebody and just having a conversation can be a lot less threatening than saying, ‘Hey, come to a faith-sharing group,’” said Bonner. “It’s just a way to break down the barriers, so faith isn’t so scary. It’s interesting. It’s fun.”

“This is informal,” said Kendall Sutherland of Woodland. “It’s good to talk amongst the people, and you get to meet new people from outside your own church.”

“It’s an informal setting. You get to meet a lot of people from other parishes, which is nice, and you get different viewpoints from different people,” said Debbie Sutherland, Kendall’s wife. 

Previous speakers and themes have included Deacon Luis Sanclemente discussing “Masculinity and Theology: What we all should know,” Father Joel Cyr’s topic was “Perfectly Imperfect: How to be disciples,” Father Dave Raymond sharing insights on honoring the Sabbath, and Father Antony Alexander Maria Doss, HGN, discussing the Ten Commandments.

“You learn a little bit more about your religion,” says Herman Legassie of Presque Isle. “Being a cradle Catholic, we just know what to do in this and that, but we don’t always understand why we do it.”

For more information about “Theology in the County,” contact Bonner at (207) 764-0161 or theresa.bonner@portlanddiocese.org.

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