Nicholas Foo (holding microphone) asks Father Timothy Radcliffe (in white) a question while Deacon Derrick Yap (in brown robes) looks on. Photo by Darren Boon
SINGAPORE – It is not often that Nicholas Foo, 24, gets to pose his questions or talk about God to a priest at a bar.
The management trainee was impressed when the priest, 40 years his senior, sat at the edge of the stage to talk to him. Mr Foo found it “warm and nice that he [came] down to my level” (photo).
This spontaneity that Dominican Father Timothy Radcliffe exuded continued in the talk-show-esque setting with about 180 young adults on Nov 19 at Love the World Soul Rock Bistro and Bar at the Singapore Flyer.
The evening’s session saw Father Radcliffe fielding questions and dishing advice, responding to issues such as Christian marriage and sex, dialogue with homosexuals, capitalism, interaction with non-Catholics, the future of the Church, vocations, workplace gossip, marriage, addictions, love, faith in the IT age, and which Christian church to go to.
Meanwhile, the participants said that the concept of a faith formation talk as a chill-out session with a priest at a bar is different and relaxing.
Ex-banker turned pre-school teacher Valerie Lee, 28, said she did not feel preached to because of the casual ambience.
Daphne Rodrigues, who is new to faith formation in a bar, said that despite the secular setting, the discussion was focused on Christian issues, which meant “we’re not just restricting faith within the church, but blending it with the outside world”.
Ms Rodrigues, 32, found the topics relevant and was moved by Father Radcliffe’s encouragement to those present to be less self-centred and “to be more spontaneous in living the Christian faith in a competitive society”.
Spontaneity, as explained by Father Radcliffe, “is to be where God and Christ is and doing what is right [even at the] risk getting hurt”.
Franciscan Deacon Derrick Yap who moderated the evening’s session said that Father Radcliffe displayed that spontaneity.
“He [offers] a very positive, life-giving kind of Christianity which doesn’t downplay the role of our wounds and sufferings,” Deacon Derrick said.
Father Radcliffe told CatholicNews that the pub setting and atmosphere was wonderful.
He pointed out that St. Dominic founded the Dominican Order in a pub, and that the Dominican community in Louvain, Belgium, still runs The Blackfriars Pub.
“What better place [then] to have conversation than in a pub,” he said with a laugh.
By Darren Boon