Colleges nationwide are following Boston College’s lead when it comes to promoting dialogues of faith and personal exploration on campus. The Agape Latte series, facilitated by the C21 Center (Church in the 21st Century), is being used as a template for other colleges interested in creating a relaxed environment for their students to come together and engage in discussions with esteemed members of the university.
Agape Latte meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 8:30 pm in the Hillside Café where free drinks and desserts are provided. The night often begins with live music to introduce the speaker(s). The speakers at Agape Latte are often professors or other faculty members who share stories of faith, growth and discernment. Agape, Greek for “unconditional love,” is usually understood as a term for God’s love of mankind.
Agape Latte offers a light and relaxed atmosphere that is not intended to be formal. Students either sit at the tables or on couches or stand with cups of coffee and oftentimes a slice of cake. The speakers share honestly and openly without lecturing or talking down to the students present. Often the speaker will enter into a discussion with the student that over the course of the night gradually transitions into a series of questions and answers.
Agape Latte has featured some well-known Boston College faculty members including Professor Kerry Cronin, Jack Dunn and the late Father William Neenan, S.J. The program began in 2006 and has since flourished on the Boston College campus, so much so that many other colleges have been inspired to offer similar programs.
Following the final Agape Latte of the spring of 2014, student members helped to assemble a similar event at a snack bar on the campus of Assumption College in Worchester, MA. Assumption College hopes to have the program meet bimonthly and many other schools, including Stonehill College, Manhattan College and Babson College, are developing programs. With the help of social media and word of mouth between students, the Agape Latte program has spread vigorously.
Students from Jesuit universities across the country were able to visit Boston College through the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference. At the conference student leaders shared ideas concerning existing and possible programs on their respective campus—and a popular point of discussion was Agape Latte. Many students expressed their interest in the program or discussed opportunities for similar groups.
“If Agape Latte was implemented at John Carroll University I think it would make a great impact on the entire campus community. After seeing how Boston College students have enjoyed this great concept it seems it would be a great way for students to come together with their different faiths,” said Molly Burns, John Carroll University ’17.
She continues, “I think being able to share common interests and learn from these speakers is a great way to inspire students to pursue their individual faith and make others aware of practices that they may not have been exposed to. John Carroll University is looking at creating Agape Latte on campus and will be proposed to Student Union over the next few months.”
College students of different faith backgrounds have benefited from this relaxed, spiritual discussion and have expressed their desire to follow in the model of Boston College’s Agape Latte.