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(Romans 10:15 NAB) 







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     Janene Ternes, Director
   Prayer in Motion, LLC
   Saline, MI  48176




August 14, 2004


Janene Ternes had a story to tell Tuesday, a story about death and dance and the spiritual life. Brendon had a night out with his wife, Hilary. They were part of Theology on Tap, a weekly program sponsored by the St. Francis Ya2acht Club (Young Adult Group) at Conor O'Neill's pub and restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor. Churches are reaching out to young adults at the places they congregate, like bars and restaurants. "It's a way of talking about faith somewhere besides the usual places, like church and home," said Jennifer Delvaux, director of young adult and youth ministries at St. Francis of Assist Catholic Church. About 30 people, most in their 20s and 30s but some older, gather at the restaurant for dinner, followed by a speaker and conversation. Ternes, a 49-year-old Saline resident, told the group about shutting faith from her life, then gradually bringing it back. Five years ago, her 45-year- old husband, Don Ternes, died of melanoma. The couple had been married 17 years and had loved each other deeply. "I cut myself off from God. I was unable to pray," Ternes said in an interview before Theology on Tap. "I was struggling with why Don died, and why a loving God could let something like that happen." While still deep in grief, Ternes took up ballet. "I knew I had to try doing something to get myself out of the house." Eventually, dance became much more. "It was a real freeing from grief, a return to some joy," recalled Ternes. Before she'd completely emerged, however, the Rev. Jim McDougall, pastor of St. Francis, suggested Ternes take a course on spiritual direction taught at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills.  "I thought it kind of odd to be considering a spiritual direction program when not on particularly good terms with God, but I couldn't stop thinking about it," Ternes said.



Janene Ternes, left, of Saline starts a recent "Theology on Tap" session with a prayer at Conor O'Neill's in Ann Arbor. The one hour speech and informal discussion is designed to attract sociable young adults to faith.



In the fall of 2001, she signed up for the two-year program, which is based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Along the way, at a spiritual retreat, Ternes discovered dance as her means of prayer. Many classes and several long retreats later, Ternes left life in the corporate world and became a spiritual director. She teaches prayer through a spiritual direction program at St. Francis, and often the teaching involves dance. (See her Web site at www.prayer-in-motion.com.) After Ternes' talk, Brendon mused, "This is nice. It fuses church and beer." The parents of two elementary school-age children were out on a "date." They called the evening a good alternative to their usual evenings in area bookstores. Theology on Tap originated with the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago in 1980, after a group of University of Illinois parents and students, along with the Rev. Jack Wall, spent an evening at a restaurant, accidentally happening onto the subject of faith.

Afterward, they said wouldn't it be great if we could do this regularly. By the following summer, they'd organized a four-week series of lectures and conversation. "Young adults need a place to come together with their peers," said Kate DeVries, associate director of young adult ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. "In parishes today, young adults are the least-present segment. They're not in the pews on Sunday, so we need to do whatever we can to informally invite them." Vatican II brought needed changes to the Catholic Church. explained DeVries, but when things like the Baltimore Catechism were discarded, they weren't immediately replaced with strong, meaty education programs. The result, said DeVries, has been young people who don't have deep understanding of Catholic faith. Which makes a case for programs like Theology on Tap, Talks at Conor O'Neill's this month included Dr. Susan Goold speaking on the costs and trade-offs in health care for all Americans. 

Also, religious educator Mary Dumm spoke on Bible stories not often told. Deacon Don Leach, a former Ann Arbor assistant police chief, will speak next Tuesday on challenges in his spiritual life. Catherine O'Donnell can be reached at codonnell@ annarbor news.com or(734) 994-6831.




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