Christian culture in Clarendon

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Friday night saw the opening of the new FORUM culture series that drew a crowd of more than 170 people to St Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington. The series is part of a new parish outreach designed to entertain and evangelize through the arts. Guests can enjoy a variety of entertainment three Fridays a month that range from musical concerts and cinematic productions to drama and dance.

The team pulled out all the stops Oct. 16 with a happy hour before a performance by singer-songwriter Marie Miller. Guests also were able to view an exhibition of photographs by Danielle Lussier titled, "Faces of South America" in the lobby of St. Benedict Hall.

Father Donald Planty, pastor, is the visionary behind FORUM and was inspired in part by the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who said, "The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb."

When Father Planty was made pastor in Clarendon, he found the parish teeming with young Catholics. While Clarendon offers a variety of restaurants, bars and a few annual festivals, Father Planty felt it could benefit from more cultural events.

"I propose we show the splendor of the beauty of Christ, of His Gospel, through the beauty of Christian culture," said Father Planty.

To make the dream a reality, he teamed up with Terrence McKeegan, the new parish director of evangelization, who sees FORUM as a great way to encourage more involvement within the parish.

"I think we have a slight crisis in that (young people) are not very committed to one particular parish," said McKeegan. "One of the ways to change that is to offer more things on the weekend other than just Mass."

Many attendees were impressed with the venue and appreciated the alternative to the usual bar scene.

"It's a great way to socialize with friends and meet new people, " said Jean Morrow, parishioner of St. Agnes. "I'm looking forward to future FORUM events."

The series will continue with a showing of the 1938 film, "The Adventures of Robin Hood" Oct. 23.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015