Bishop Olson talks faithful citizenship with Wichita Falls young adults

by Jenara Kocks Burgess

North Texas Catholic

September 16, 2016

In this 2014 file photo, Bishop Michael Olson talks to Catholic young adults from the Mid-Cities during a Theology on Tap event in Hurst. (NTC file photo)

WICHITA FALLS — Bishop Michael Olson talked to the Wichita Falls area young adult Catholics group, 940 Catholics, about faithful citizenship and the upcoming election season during their first Theology on Tap (TOT) event for Fall 2016.

During the Sept. 8 event, Bishop Olson said as faithful citizens and Catholics, it is part of a Catholic’s duty to engage in civil discourse in order to help society find “the right way forward.”

“Because, as Catholics, we have the responsibility to speak the truth that we know through right reason and faith, and to speak it well,” Bishop Olson said. “And speaking it well is to speak it in a way that people are able to understand it as best they can and that invites further discussion and conversation…”

This is the 940 Catholics’ second year of hosting Theology on Tap, discussions on the Catholic faith which take place in casual settings. The meetings are aimed at adults in their 20’s and 30’s in the Wichita Falls area, according to Sarah Merlau, a member who helps with publicity for the group.

The diocese also has TOT groups in Fort Worth, the Mid-Cities, and Denton.

More than 40 young adults attended the meeting at Fuzzy’s Tacos in Wichita Falls, making it one of the largest turnouts they’ve had, said Angela Cuba, another member of the group.

“We’re so happy to grow this community of young adults in Wichita Falls with the help of God, because we can do nothing without the help of God,” Cuba said.

Bishop Olson also talked about receiving emails accusing him of endorsing views against Church teaching when he said the invocation at the inauguration of Governor Greg Abbott, with whom he has been friends with since Abbott was a lawyer and he was a seminarian, and when he allowed Congressman Marc Veasey to do a town hall meeting at All Saints Church’s parish hall in Fort Worth.

“My point is, we’ve gotten to the point of our civil discourse — to our understanding of our responsibility as citizens — that the only way we are able to participate in our society politically and to contribute to the common good is in a partisan way. And that’s a misunderstanding,” Bishop Olson said.

He also said that reason seems to be “taking a backseat.”

“All that matters is the narrative, the story or part of the story that pushes an agenda so you can malign people personally to push your agenda,” Bishop Olson lamented.

“This is so destructive of the common good. And it is incumbent upon us as Catholics to enter into the discourse patiently, articulating what we believe, what we know to be truth through right reason — as well as through faith — and bringing that to the table.

“It’s not only about what we say, but the way we say it. It’s going to require patience on our part but perseverance as well,” he added.

Bishop Olson said it’s essential to Catholics’ moral life that they vote in an informed way.

“Informed in the issues, right reason, and how they align with the Gospel and basic objective morality, and also what is the scope and responsibility for the office for which the candidates are running,” he explained.

Bishop Olson said people constantly ask him a question that he asks himself as well: “What am I going to do in this election?”

He said: “My charge to you and myself is how are we going to inform our consciences in a way that we do something else” to make up for what is lacking in our political choices and actions.

“So if our choice falls short in the area of right to life, it’s incumbent on us to make another contribution through service, through witness, through support in a variety of ways for the dignity of life — and especially for the dignity and safety of the unborn and their mothers,” he said.

He said, likewise, if a Catholic’s vote falls short on the issue of refugees and immigration, he or she needs to clearly talk about and support an understanding of being a hospitable society that welcomes strangers and helps them integrate into society through education.

WICHITA FALLS — Bishop Michael Olson talked to the Wichita Falls area young adult Catholics group, 940 Catholics, about faithful citizenship and the upcoming election season during their first Theology on Tap (TOT) event for Fall 2016.

Published (until 12/27/2035)