By Jessica Stamp
The Catholic Penguins Men’s Bible Study gathers every Friday morning to discuss the Bible with fellow peers at Youngstown State University.
Anton Donghia, a junior mechanical engineering major, said the men’s Bible study used to be held at the St. John Henry Newman Center but recently moved to be on campus because it was easier for the members to meet up.
“We started doing a Bible study on campus, I believe last semester. Previously, we had it at the Newman Center but we moved it to be on campus for convenience and to kind of also be present on campus,” Donghia said.
Donghia said the Bible study has impacted him in many ways.
“Bible study is great at building community,” Donghia said. “It’s made a big impact just on my practical learning of like ‘What is the Bible?’ ‘What’s trying to be said in this passage or that passage?’ and hearing the other ideas from the other guys, it’s very helpful growing in your own faith and trying to look at something with a different lens than you would initially think.”
Donghia said the group is following Lent, a Catholic liturgical and penitential season, to prepare for Easter.
“It’s a time of trying to grow in holiness and trying to focus more on the passions that you’re ready to celebrate when it comes to the resurrection of Easter,” Donghia said.
At the moment, the Rev. Norbert Keliher, a Dominican priest and chaplain for the Catholic Penguins Ministry, joins the Bible studies to help students better understand the passage and answer any questions that may arise.
“We open up the scriptures and talk about one passage together, give a chance for the men to just discuss their own ideas and reactions so that there’s bringing something of yourself into [the Bible study] but then when difficult questions come up or there’s a point worth exploring, I’ll do a little bit of teaching,” Keliher said.
Keliher said he hopes to train some of the members so the Bible Study can be run without his presence.
“In the future, [I hope] to train members who are coming in right now to lead their own Bible studies,” Keliher said.
Keliher also said people struggle in reading and learning the Bible because of a lack of confidence.
“There’s a lot of people who know what the Bible is but they don’t feel confident in picking up the Bible themselves and trying to understand it, play with it,” Keliher said. “The goal really is just to get people comfortable opening the Bible, learning the basic principles about how Catholics read the Bible.”
Keliher said the Bible studies are open to anybody who is curious and requires no commitment while also allowing students to build a community and explore their own faith.
“Our two main goals in the Catholic Penguins are to build up inclusive communities so people from any background, they don’t even have to be Catholic, but also to get more depth for people who are Catholic to really explore their faith to discover how wonderful it is,” Keliher said.
The group currently has 10 members. Keliher said the group is looking to potentially divide into two different sessions and times in the fall 2023 semester.
“Ten is about the max that I would want to have to have [a] good discussion so starting in the fall, we’re going to have to split up and have two different Bible studies, two different times,” Keliher said. “I’m not going to be physically present at all Bible studies.”
The next Catholic Penguins Men’s Bible study is 10 a.m. March 31 at Kilcawley Center in room 2041.