By Jessica Easthope
The eighth graders at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Academy in Flatlands don’t hesitate to make themselves at home, after all that’s the goal of the Dumb Ox Cafe and Loft.
“It’s a second home to me really, I can get in touch with my friends and family here and practice my faith,” said Garven Gerdes.
It’s a place for the youth and young adults of the parish to come, be themselves and interact with each other and God.
“I used to think church was boring and we just have to worship God and that’s it but now they make it fun for me and for everyone else and I feel like doing things for God is fun,” said Kaylin Lopez-Correa.
Pastor, Fr. Dwayne Davis says the café, which opened last month in the parish hall has been a long time in the making.
“It’s a good opportunity for evangelization and for them to recognize that a parish really loves them and that they’re important to us,” he said.
It’s open, for now, just a few times a month. When they’re here kids can play games, watch tv, eat, drink and be with each other in a safe environment.
St. Thomas Aquinas was called a “dumb ox” because he was a big man who was slow in speech, but the cafe has turned that insult on its head and embraced the parish’s patron saint.
The parish already has an active youth ministry, members helped the cafe come to life and take evangelization to new heights.
“It was fun bringing it all together so we have a space that’s all our own, I hope I can be a role model to them, they look at me like I want to be like her and help out and do as much as I can,” said Adriana Dorner, a high school senior and youth ministry member.
The space is an extension of their church and allows faith to be far reaching.
“It’s a community where kids can get together but it’s about Jesus, Jesus is everywhere in here,” said Chase O’Brien.
“The church was the center of life and of the community and everyone would come to church to be a part of that and in a real way we’re rebuilding that,” said Fr. Davis.