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Every month, up to 80 young
people gather at a city pub
to talk theology. REBECCA
DIGIROLAMO speaks to the
Adelaide Catholic men and
women who volunteer their
time to create this innovative
and refreshing approach to
quenching the spiritual thirst of
young Catholics who may not
frequent the pews.
On the first Monday of most months, the
Rob Roy Hotel’s dining area is buzzing
with young people, food, wine and beer.
Such activity is unusual for what is
traditionally a slow trading day at many
Adelaide watering holes. What makes
the evening all the more unusual is the
enthusiastic after dinner talk intently
focussed on Catholic faith.
Accountant Michael Migliore says Pub
Theology is all about bringing faith to
young people and making it relevant, and
where better to do that in Australia than at
the front bar.
Michael co-founded Pub Theology in
Adelaide with Adrian Middeldorp in July
2009. Since then more than 45 gatherings
have been held, attracting a collective
crowd of hundreds and hundreds of
secondary school students, school leavers,
university students, young professionals
and religious men and women from the
Catholic faith and other religious groups.
Michael says the aim of Pub Theology is
to make the Catholic faith speak to the
everyday lives of people aged from 18
to 35 on their turf and in a language and
format they can understand.
Pub Theology has become a familiar
meeting place for young people who want
to ask questions of their faith and Church
doctrine, and even challenge it.
In May this year, more than 100 young
people came to hear US Catholic singer
Steve Angrisano speak on youth ministry
and music. Other high profile speakers
to have graced the Pub Theology stage
have included New Zealand bioethics and
life issue speaker Brendan Malone (May
2015), Matercare International founder Dr
Rob Walley (October 2014), and Nintendo
executive Father Jack McLain (May 2010).
Over the years hot button issues discussed
have included: euthanasia, pornography,
abortion, science and religion, the role of
the Church and the State, and marriage.
The next event will be held on December 2.
Michael says the winning formula is
all about keeping it simple, avoiding
sermonising and enabling open and honest
“People come along, perhaps bring a few
friends. They have a meal and then there
is a guest speaker who doesn’t talk for
too long – maybe 30 to 40 minutes. This is
followed by question and answer sessions
where young people are invited to quiz the
speaker and generate further discussion.”
Michael’s leadership in youth catechesis
was recognised in 2010 through the
Pub Theology is the only event of its kind
in the Adelaide Archdiocese and follows
the same format used in Theology on
Tap in Sydney and before that in the
Archdiocese of Chicago. Theology on Tap
is now running in Melbourne, Canberra
and Brisbane and across more than 175
parishes and dioceses in Canada, Italy,
Taiwan, the Philippines, Ireland, and Hong
Engineer Ginil Fernandez, who took over
running Pub Theology from Michael
in 2012, says it has three successful
elements – the social aspect of sharing a
meal and a drink with like-minded people;
faith formation through an expert speaker;
and finally, good conversation.
“It’s a way to evangelise,” says Ginil.
“Because it’s much easier to call someone
o’clock Mass,” he says. “It’s what I call a
stepping stone to evangelisation.”
Coordinating Pub Theology with Ginil are
lawyer Patrick Giam and teacher Lucy
The trio meet regularly to organise
speakers and topics and to ensure Pub
Theology remains contemporary and
“I think young people want to learn more
about their faith and how to live it in the
modern world,” says Patrick, who regularly
attends the Latin Mass at Holy Name
“Pub Theology dispels the myth that
learning about the truths of our faith is a
stuffy pursuit limited to priests and people
who wish to study theology,” he says.
“It’s also a great place for young Catholics
to meet each other and grow in friendship,
especially in a wider culture that promotes
many influences that are hostile to our
For more information on the December
Pub Theology, join the Facebook group
by visiting http://www.facebook.com/
Faith flows as quickly as the beer
THIRST FOR THEOLOGY: (L-R) Pub Theology co-founder and former coordinator Michael Migliore with current coordinators
Ginil Fernandez and Patrick Giam at the Rob Roy Hotel.
Parishioners, family and friends gave Fr Kym
Spurling a surprise party to celebrate his 25th
anniversary of priestly ordination recently.
The Greenacres/Walkerville parish celebrated the
anniversary with a special Mass and morning tea
on Sunday September 13 at St Martin's Church,
Greenacres, along with his family and friends from
the other parishes in which he has served.
The Mass was concelebrated by Mgr David Cappo,
Fr Kevin Horsell and Fr Michael Separovich (who
travelled from Perth for the occasion) and was also
Fr Anthony Moester and Fr Luke Peroni.
Fr Kym's mother, June Spurling, made his stole to
mark the occasion.
Fr Spurling thanked everyone for all the preparation,
the gifts and the “many secrets that needed to be
kept” for the event to remain a surprise.
“It was a very supportive, touching and joyful
weekend for me,” Fr Spurling said.
Ordained in September 1990, Fr Spurling has
worked in the parishes of Modbury, Noarlunga
Downs, Hectorville, Hallett Cove, Murray Bridge and
“During this time my experiences have been
many and varied, and at times, challenging,” he
wrote recently for a series of testimonials marking
“As a priest I meet people from all sections of
the community. I’m often touched by people’s
goodness, honesty and openness and this becomes
evident when I’m asked to share in both the
triumphs and tragedies of people’s lives.
“I am truly grateful for this blessing.”
CELEBRATION: Fr Spurling with is anniversary
cake at the morning tea in St Martin’s Church.
25 years of priesthood
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