Trivia educates, engages young adults

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Only at a Catholic trivia night would you find team names like "The Hammer of Heretics," "Former Embryos," "Papists" and "Can I get an Amen!"

Such were the competitors who participated in Monday night's young adult Catholic Trivia Night, held at Pat Troy's in Alexandria as part of diocesan involvement in the national Fortnight for Freedom.

Organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the fortnight, which began last Thursday and runs through July 4, is a two-week-long effort to encourage and empower Catholics in the fight for religious freedom. Freedom of religion, one of the basic constitutional rights of Americans, has been a hot topic for Catholics since the passage of the Health and Human Services mandate requiring most private organizations, including Catholic institutions, to cover Church-opposed contraception, sterilization and abortifacients (Plan B) in their health insurance plans. Many diocesan parishes have scheduled Holy Hours, organized days of prayer and fasting, or invited speakers to raise awareness about the issue.

Monday's trivia night was about educating in a fun, relaxed way that would engage young Catholics, said Erin Kisley, diocesan coordinator of young adult ministry. During four rounds of play, questions ranged from "How much money do Catholic elementary and high schools save U.S taxpayers?" to "Which pope wrote 'Humanae Vitae'?"

Father Ed Bresnahan, parochial vicar of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Fredericksburg, played the role of Alex Trebek, reading out questions and multiple-choice lists of possible answers.

The trivia night offered "a different way" to reach out to young adults, Father Bresnahan said. In the entertaining and competitive atmosphere, it was impossible not to come away with some additional knowledge.

"(Religious freedom) is our most precious liberty," Father Bresnahan said. "Because it's something that sometimes gets glossed over, I think the danger is for it to fall into one issue among many in a very mixed up world."

Events like the trivia night help "raise awareness of something that's so obviously important," he added. "It encourages people to do their research and their homework."

At a table in the back of the crowded pub, Helani Scurfield, a parishioner of St. John the Baptist Parish in Front Royal, said she came to the event to test her theology knowledge gleaned from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and to support the fortnight.

"I think it's important to witness to your faith and to object to something that's gravely wrong that's trying to be imposed upon us," Scurfield said. "If we don't stand up and say something, who will?"

Brad Kelly, a parishioner of Holy Trinity Parish in Washington, D.C., and one of four members of "Team Victory," said religious freedom is "literally an expression of the soul.

"It's absolutely fundamental, and it's just a good thing to be reminded of, especially by the bishops and the Church."

Kisley said young adults are ideal partners in the fight for religious freedom because they have the time and energy that others may lack. She hopes those who participated in trivia night will take what they learned and put it to good use.

"When you know your faith, you want to defend it," she said. "(You) want to fight for your liberties when you know what you're fighting for."

Sante Simms, a parishioner of St. Mary Parish in Alexandria, said it's important for Catholics to come together as one during the Fortnight for Freedom and beyond.

"You have to show solidarity," he said. "Basically the only tool we have is to be visible and be seen out in the community, so this is a good time to have fun and to do that."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2012