The free, five-program series, held throughout the fall and winter, is centered on a different theme each year. This year’s theme is “Rediscovering Faith Through Pilgrimage.”
“We’ll be focusing on the meaning of pilgrimage and see some of the inspiring highlights and history from these places.” Father Andrew Heaslip said.
Father Heaslip is in charge of the Catholic Coffee House program and comes up with the themes for the series each year.
“Once a theme crystallizes, I take a look to see if people are willing to speak,” Father Heaslip said. “We have a lot of priests who have led pilgrimages and had experiences of faith in these places.”
While the whole series has a prominent theme, he said each individual session can stand on its own, allowing people to come to as many as they are able without missing out.
The monthly sessions, which will be held one Sunday a month during the next five months, begin at 7 p.m. The meetings will be held in the back room of Gianna’s Java and Gelato.
Gianna’s Java and Gelato, which opened in January, is a full-scale coffee house and café, run by Catholic Social Services. Proceeds from the business support the work of Catholic Social Services, particularly St. Gianna Women’s Homes for those escaping domestic abuse or pressure to abort.
As they did last year, Gianna’s will offer free cups of their Gianna’s coffee during the coffee house presentations. Specialty coffee drinks and snacks - ranging from wraps and pastries to gelato and frozen novelties - will be available in the main store for purchase.
The coffee house meetings begin with social time before the speaker begins. Once they are done, a question and answer session will be held. According to Father Heaslip, it’s a great time to have social interactions.
Jeff Schinstock, diocesan director of youth ministry, will be the first speaker of the series OCt. 16, reflecting on his experiences leading youth from the Diocese of Lincoln at World Youth Day in Krakow.
The goal, Father Heaslip said, is to grow seeing the life of faith as a pilgrimage in itself.
“Our life is a pilgrimage, we are the pilgrim Church,” Father Heaslip said.
For those who have never been on a pilgrimage or are unable to go, Father Heaslip said he hope that those in attendance are will grow in a sense of the wider reality of the Church.
“I want people to get a sense of these places, even if they are not able to go. I want people to see what God has worked in these places,” Father Heaslip said.
He said he is hoping the new venue will help to draw an even bigger crowd this year.
Given that the Diocese of Lincoln spans more than 23,000 square miles over 40 counties in southern Nebraska, for those who may not be able to make the events, the sessions will all be videotaped, so that they may be viewed later. In addition to his duties for the Office of Religious Education, Father Heaslip is also digital media coordinator for the diocese. The idea is to allow the speakers’ messages to spread to as many people as possible.
“These events widen our vision of the Church and the history of the Church,” Father Heaslip said. “This in turn allows us to have a wider view of the universal Church.”
“I want to offer everyone a warm invitation,” Father Heaslip concluded. “I think they’ll enjoy the coffee and speakers, as well as get information on the pilgrim Church.”