Could you tell us in one or two lines, tell us what First Tuesday is?
First Tuesdays is the Church in thought and in prayer. It's an opportunity for people to hear a great talk by a theologian or Church leader on a topic relevant to modern life and spirituality, and then to conclude the evening with the beautiful and meditative ritual of Night Prayer. Oh yeah, and we get going with happy hour!
Where did the idea for First Tuesdays come from?
First Tuesdays grew out of a desire expressed by people in St. Margaret of Scotland parish for more adult faith formation opportunities. At the same time the parish was looking for ways to respond to people who wanted to learn more about the Catholic Church and the possibility of becoming Catholic. First Tuesdays attempts to make the riches of the Church's intellectual and spiritual heritage available to our community.
Who are the people involved in making all of this happen?
There are so many generous people! Right now we have a hospitality committee that coordinates the happy hour and works with volunteers who bring in food and drink each month. We are experimenting with having parish programs or organizations sponsor a session--so, look for that in the coming months. There are people who help promote First Tuesdays, and another small group that started meeting in the spring and through the summer to put together this year's program. That planning committee is made up of Peter Hesed, Pastoral Associate at SMOS, Julie Rubio, Theologian at SLU, Mary Kay Christian, Province Liturgist for the Sister's of St. Joseph of Carondalet, Ben Smyth, Service Learning Coordinator in the Business School at SLU, and me.
Could you describe one of the memorable talks or moments from Last year?
There were so many. and we weren't nearly as organized as we are this year! The children's program concludes at the same time as the adult program. When the kids come back and sing a song to the adults, that's pretty sweet. All of the talks last year were excellent, we were very fortunate. I couldn't pick a favorite. During the week of Easter we enjoyed a world class talk from renowned SLU philosopher Eleonore Stump. Just before she spoke we had a cellist play a Bach piece that harkened back to Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It was chillingly tremendous. Wow.
Who is your target audience?
All are welcome! We developed a parallel children's program for infants through pre-teens so that young parents attend. We have long time St. Margaret's parishioners, a lot of young adults, people from the neighborhood who aren't parishioners, and beyond. It's for anyone who wants to hear a substantive theological talk and the opportunity to talk about it with other thinking adults in the context of faith, prayer, and...happy hour.
I have heard there is a great program for kids that come to First Tuesday. Can you tell me about it?
Yeah, so this program for kids is really great. It was developed by one of our legendary parishioners, Terri Merideth. We have a few adults and a number of teenagers who play games with the kids, they learn songs, often do an art project, eat a snack (of course), and often come back to share one of their songs with the adults. The content of their evening sometimes tracks what the adults are discussing, but always offers the children an opportunity to engage their faith at a level that's appropriate for them.
Tell us a little about the plans for this year?
We learned a lot last year and were able to make a few changes that we believe have improved what was already a strong program. Last year we gathered in the school cafeteria in an attempt to bridge the parish and school communities. But, it was a ton of work rearranging that space and the fluorescent lighting was terrible for creating a prayer space. We shifted to the parish hall (below the church). Now, we start with Happy Hour at 6:15pm. Our speaker goes on at 6:45pm so people have plenty of time to drop kids off, grab a drink, and relax. We simplified the prayer setting and moved it to the Church at the end of the night. Our line up of topics and speakers, which can be found at www.firsttuesdays.org, is really excellent. We feel so fortunate that we've been able to attract such highly acclaimed theologians and Church leaders to spend an evening with us.
How can our readers get involved in First Tuesday?
Come and enjoy! These evenings are free and all are welcome. It's one of St. Margaret's many gifts to the community. John and Elizabeth Schuebel (email@example.com) do an amazing job coordinating hospitality and they are always looking for new contributors. But, we have lots of ways for people to get involved. If you come and like what you see, we'll find a way to use your talents.
Sean Agniel is a parishioner of St. Margaret of Scotland and a member of the First Tuesdays Planning Team. He also serves as the Provincial's Assistant for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education for the Missouri Province of Jesuits.