City Feature: CBC Phoenix

Catholic Beer Club. No agendas, Just Community and Relationship. We are built on this principle that while talks and bible studies are good and necessary things, sometimes young Catholics need a chance to hang out with other young Catholics, to encounter new people in an unscripted atmosphere. We need opportunities to meet people outside of our normal circles, to talk to someone about their interests that have nothing to do with our own, or even just to enjoy the company of friends we don’t see often. We need opportunities to build community in all its forms, from new bible study members to running partners.

Relationships are transformative by nature. Even the most surface level of our relationships have the power to affect who we become. The communities we build transform not only us, but the world.

In Phoenix, CBC co-coordinators Christian Andreen and Nathan Roush have created a space for relationships of all forms to begin—and people have responded. Because Phoenix is a place where people often move after college or for a fresh start, there is already a sense of openness about the city. Christian believes this also contributes to the success of CBC, because people come to the events with open hearts and minds. They are there to meet someone new.

The fact that the events are no pressure, and if you hate it you can leave, helps people to take the risk of showing up.
— Christian Andreen

The number of people who continue showing up, and even joining the group for country dancing afterwards, suggests that not too many have hated it. Christian and Nate make an effort to have different types of events—some with food, some with yard games, some at an ordinary old bar—making each month different, and enabling different personalities to shine. The heart of every event is still socializing, and Christian loves that when everyone is just hanging out and getting to know each other time just goes by, and people don’t even know it.

The events, however, are only the beginning. Christian and Nate both love that new people join them for country dancing after many events, even some who don’t love country dancing. They have gone hiking with groups of people they met at Catholic Beer Club, and even hosted screenings of Bishop Robert Baron’s Catholicism series. Christian has also had people ask to grab coffee when they just needed someone to talk to.

It was amazing that she felt like she could trust me. I think that since there is no ticket to get in the door, she knew I wasn’t going to be judgmental. We still keep in touch.
— Christian Andreen

Nate loves that the events have a very “disarming atmosphere.” You are invited to come and be as social as you like, to get into a debate, or choose not to, to play games, or to just chat with someone new. When people feel free to be themselves, the results are amazing.

As coordinators, CBC has challenged Christian and Nate in unique ways. “Being city coordinator has helped me to grow more bold,” said Nate. When he sees someone new, he want to make sure they feel welcome and try to help them meet someone they connect with, which has pushed him to start initiating conversations with strangers. Becoming more of an initiator has also been a challenge for Christian, calling her out of her comfort zone. But doing so, she says, “has taught me to trust, because people say yes! If you don’t ask, they don’t say yes.” After dragging her roommate to the first event, Christian was pleasantly surprised to find that people came. She said, “They were nice, and normal. And then they came again!”

Sometimes you just want to be around people who are with you on the big issues in life. Sometimes we get into debates, sometimes we don’t. It’s just good to be together.
— Nate Roush

Community and Relationships. There are many ways to go about forming them, and many different elements of each to foster. The simplicity of Catholic Beer Club has allowed multiple types of relationships to begin. The results, however, still defy the odds. The city coordinators create a space, and budding communities across the country grow and flourish out of them. “The whole thing is really a miracle,” Christian said, but it makes perfect sense when we have a God who loves loving us through each other. “I think God really wants Catholic Beer Club to be welcoming,” she said, as we learn to trust along with her that so long as we are, he will take care of the rest.