A message to young Catholics: The welcome mat is out.
And it is found at Joe's 58th Street Grill and Tavern, adjacent to Zach's Sports and Spirits, 5820 Sixth Ave.
In an effort to bring Catholics ages 18 to 39 together to talk about their faith, the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown will hold its fifth Theology on Tap series at the Irish-style Pub the second Monday of every month through the fall and winter.
Addressing the group at the first informal get-together at 7 p.m. Monday will be Sister Linda LaMagna, ministerial coordinator of Evangelization/Catholics Returning Home, for the diocese.
She will present "The Desire to Come Home: Returning to the Catholic Church and Reclaiming Your Faith for Christ."
She said young adults are among those who seem to be less interested in commitment to their Catholic faith because of life's interruptions, such as college, work and family.
"We want to let the young people know the doors are open," LaMagna said. "We want them to return [to the Catholic church], and more importantly we want them to know God wants them back."
LaMagna said unchurched Catholics often hesitate to walk through the church doors.
"There is a fear to take the first step back in. They might feel like they are not welcome. But that welcome mat is out," she said.
The relaxed atmosphere gives young adults the opportunity to share their concerns while munching on appetizers provided by Joe's or sipping an individually purchased beverages.
"We're reaching out to young people where they go out," said Tony DeGol, secretary of communications for the diocese.
He and Father David Rizzo, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, facilitate the series.
"We thought it was important to gather in a non-threatening atmosphere," Rizzo said, "And many young adults don't feel connected to the church."
Last year, about 25 to 45 people attended each Monday where they listened to the speaker, shared conversation and began drawing back into a relationship with God, Rizzo said.
LaMagna said she hopes the first session leads the adults "back on the path to a prayer life and reading the Scriptures."