By: Tom Tappel – Staff Writer
As college students, it can be sometimes difficult to incorporate faith into the hectic schedule of day to day life. Agape Latte, a new series brought to the University of Dayton this year, is a monthly social gathering for students to meet and discuss faith and religion. The meetings are held on the first Tuesday of every month in Kennedy Union’s Hangar.
From Boston College to UD, Agape Latte is a program dedicated to a sharing of stories, coffee, and conversation. In the early 2000’s a group from Boston College wanted to bring up more questions about the state of faith beyond talk of the scandals being brought up during that time. Following up on this goal, the group went on to found The Church in the 21st Century Center whose aim was to become “a catalyst and a resource for the renewal of the Catholic Church in the United States.” Agape Latte was established as the center looked for an environment to talk about these topics in a more relaxed environment. As Agape Latte grew, more and more universities started taking note of what was going on, including UD’s Josh Tovey. When Josh discovered the idea of Agape Latte, he knew he wanted to bring it home to UD and set the plan in action. Josh talked to Joan McGuinness Wagner from the Office for Mission and Rector and together the two of them brought together a committee, which started planning Agape Latte back in January.
Fast-forward to Agape Latte’s first gathering on September 8. Brother Tom talked to a Hangar full of students sipping on coffee and snacking on cookies about his struggles with perfectionism and rules in his faith life. His talk isn’t a sermon. There’s no Scripture. It’s just a story he’s telling. His story. And while his story is intense, there is a casual tone to the way it’s discussed. No one is taking notes; the audience is not in a small, candlelit room in a chapel. There’s even a student in a bean costume in the back of the audience. It’s just a story in the Hangar and that’s the entire point of Agape Latte.
In our lives most of our deeper conversations, our “real talk,” happens while we’re on retreat or up until 4 AM in our dorm hallways with our friends. The bigger conversations are these big peak experiences that end up feeling surreal the next morning. Agape Latte offers deeper talks over coffee and cookies with a couple hundred other students. The program aims to bring this kind of conversation into the fabric of our day-to-day lives, to “crack the door open” to faith, to vulnerability, and to talking over a cup of coffee that isn’t just about the weather.
Meeting this goal hinges first and foremost on the speakers and their ability to connect with the student audience.
As a result, the committee spends most of its time determining the speakers for events. In determining the speakers for the event series, the board for Agape Latte looks first at the person and what position he or she occupies in the campus community. The goal in this is to see what new ways the stories can reach students. This month’s speaker is Daria Graham, the Director of Student Leadership Programs who was chosen for her remarkable faith story and her differing perspective from Brother Tom.
The next Agape Latte is Tuesday, Oct. 13 in the Hangar. Check out and like their Facebook page for updates on the series. If you’re looking for a chance to get involved and experience more of Agape Latte than the average cup of Joe, talk to the staff in the light blue shirts at the next event for opportunities in setting up hospitality, food, music and speakers.
To hear Bro. Tom’s full talk from the first Agape Latte, click here.