by Olivia Martin
OVERLAND PARK — It’s a Tuesday night. And a monk walks into a bar.
Actually, it’s not just one monk, but several.
They sit down, order some drinks, pray together, swap jokes and shoot the breeze with a table of 20-somethings.
“Cheers” meets the monastery?
No, this scene is straight out of the upcoming Brews with Benedictines event.
The outreach is the brainchild of J.D. Benning, the director of communications for St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison. He saw that, after graduation, the connection between the monks and new graduates from Benedictine College underwent a change.
“We noticed that at some of the events the monks host, there weren’t a lot of young people,” he said.
He wanted to find a way to help the monks and their friends stay connected — and a place to foster that encounter.
When the idea for Brews with Benedictines came to him, he knew he had tapped (no pun intended) into something special — and Brother Leven Harton, OSB, recognized it as well.
The typical 25- or 26-year-old Catholic tends to not attend traditional events such as parish missions, said Brother Leven.
“But,” he countered, “if you invited them to get a beer and have the opportunity to do a little prayer, a little formation, and do it over a drink, that’s much more approachable.”
The event is open to adults of all ages and was created with the special intention of fostering a relationship with millennials, particularly those who presently have or have had a relationship with St. Benedict’s Abbey through their education at Benedictine College.
“Brews” will take place Aug. 30 at the Brew Lab, located at 7925 Marty St. in Overland Park. Tickets are $10 and cover hors d’oeuvres, two beers, an opportunity for spiritual counsel and a talk given by one of the monks.
At a past Brews with Benedictines event, Father Jay Kythe, OSB, gave a talk on “acedia,” which is a sort of weariness with life that causes a lack of desire to be productive.
In his work and experience with young adults, Father Jay has found that an attachment to technology and social media can be a breeding ground for acedia and mental distraction.
And while social media can help people connect, it cannot substitute for in-person interaction and friendship.
“The more [young people] can enter into conversations and friendships with one another, the better,” said Father Jay. “And they crave that.
“Events like these help them to pursue the real thing.”
It is not just BC grads who are encouraged to participate, however. Or even Catholics.
In fact, part of the idea is to reach out to those who did not attend Benedictine College or might never have even met a monk.
“And if you have to get up early the next day for work,” promised Brother Leven, “it’s the perfect event — because we’re monks and we go to bed early!
“We’ll be leaving by like nine o’clock!”