Agape is a Greek word that, through the lens of the Catholic faith, refers to an altruistic, selfless form of love centered around bettering the lives of others. Lattes are commonly known, widely celebrated coffee drinks made with steamed milk and espresso. Separately, the two words hold very different meanings. However, to Boston College students who have attended, supported, or even organized Agape Latte events, this pair of words means something entirely different.
Agape Latte was formed through the collaborative efforts of BC’s Church in the 21st Century Center (C21) and Catholic Ministry groups. Now a national organization, the founding chapter at BC is working to bring the program to other universities, churches, and associations. The focus of Agape Latte is to spread goodwill by fostering a community of love, encouragement, and faith among students.
To this purpose, one of Agape Latte’s trademarks is the annual Espresso Your Faith week, held every fall semester. The heart and soul of the club are the speaking events that are hosted periodically throughout the academic year. On Tuesday, April 30, Agape Latte held their last event of the Spring 2019 semester.
At each of these gatherings, starting at 7:45 p.m., live music is performed by BC students as people arrive and begin to find seats. Tables in the back are lined with coffee, tea, cake, cookies, and fruit. On this final Tuesday, the club paid tribute to this year’s graduating class with a decorated cake and a limited edition version of the highly-coveted, complimentary Agape Latte T-shirts. Hillside was crowded with attentive listeners, many of whom were attending their last Agape as current BC students.
Each Agape night has a certain theme and this Tuesday’s was Back to the Future: Life After the Heights. Fr. Casey Beaumier, S.J., the director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies, and Karen Kiefer, director of C21, spoke to students about navigating uncertainties during life in college and beyond. Though tuned to seniors, the advice given was applicable to any stage of life. Passing the microphone back and forth, the two offered gems of advice sandwiched amongst personal memories and recounts of their own post-college paths.
Kiefer focused greatly on making time for God and trusting Him with worries and concerns.
“Prayer changes things,” she promised, offering her personal mantra as a case-in-point. “‘God, help me help You.’” She repeated this point, emphasizing the fact that it takes but five seconds a day to acknowledge Him.
Recounting her days of early adulthood, Kiefer explained the value of abandoning “material distractions” in exchange for genuine connections and experiences with people. Essentially, she advocated for engaging in the life you have, rather than chasing after the life you think you should be leading.
One of Fr. Casey’s most prominent points was the importance of maintaining a sense of hopeful imagination, despite any adversity that comes in the form of self-doubt.
“You should never, ever, ever dispose of any vision, any dream, or any desire within your heart,” he urged. Fr. Casey pointed to the idea that goals, no matter how probable (or improbable) they may seem, are what motivate us to work harder and press forward.
Perhaps some of the most intimate moments of the evening occurred during the question and answer session. Silence fell over the room after Kiefer opened the floor to the audience. Then someone—presumably a senior—asked, “What do you wish you did during the last few weeks of college?”
A string of inquiries followed: “What are some things you can do to have a beautiful exit [from college]?” “Do you have any suggestions on how seniors can reflect over the last four years on campus?” “What’s one thing you’d want us to leave [this talk] with?”
Fr. Casey and Kiefer paused to think, taking time to dig deep for responses to such raw questions. Their replies prompted some teary eyes among audience members.
In terms of reflecting, Father Casey suggested, “Stroll Linden Lane without music, empty-handed…Look at Gasson. And then maybe swing in St. Mary’s Hall…Not for just senior year, but for every year. Find yourself on Linden Lane.”
In reminiscing on his last few weeks in university, he remembered, “I wish I would’ve been more okay with feeling insecure about the unknown...Everybody’s bluffing. None of us know what tomorrow holds.” His words were surely a comfort to many in the room, as he added compassionately, “It’s a very vulnerable time.”
Kiefer reminded students of the unbreakable bond they have forged with BC. As an alumnus herself (BC ‘82), she assured the audience, “This is not the end, this is absolutely the beginning. This is your home, this is your family, [and] you can always come back.”
The end of the school year is upon us. With goodbyes to be said, final events to attend, and exams and papers to complete, it is easy to forget to slow down and just breathe. To think introspectively about the events of the last few months and about the events that lie ahead—whatever those may be.
Agape Latte offers students this much-needed opportunity to break away from work, to relax, listen, and learn from those who have come before them. The opportunity to bond over shared experiences and to get in touch with themselves and their peers. Agape Lattes are brewed for the soul.
For those interested in getting involved, Agape Latte will be recruiting new team members—as well as hosting events—in the fall, so be sure to keep an eye out for more information. To listen and/or view Fr. Casey and Karen Kiefer’s full talk (as well as past presentations), check out Agape’s podcast on Spotify and their YouTube channel.