Marymount Initiative Combines Coffee and Conversations on Faith

Agape Latte, an inter-faith initiative that’s spreading to Catholic campuses across the country, has arrived at Marymount University, and organizers say it’s a perfect fit for MU’s close-knit, family atmosphere. After a successful debut in April, they plan to hold these evenings of coffee and conversation again on Sept. 5, Oct. 3, Oct. 31 and Dec. 5 during the fall semester.

Each Agape Latte event will include trivia, coffeehouse-style music, and a 30-minute reflection about healthy relationships with God and others. Speakers will be faculty members, administrators or staff members who share their faith story and offer “food for the journey” forward.

They’ll address topics such as a friendship, hope, forgiveness, prayer, dating and discernment.

Their first Agape Latte speaker, Dr. Todd Rimkus, discussed “Love of Learning to Love of Teaching” on April 19 before an audience of about 100 at the university’s Bernie’s Cafe. Those attending received free coffee, pastries and T-shirts. Sebastian Monzon, president of Marymount’s International Club, giving the first musical performance.

“Dr. Rimkus was a great choice as our first speaker because his talk truly embodied what Agape Latte is all about: breaking the barriers and getting to know our faculty and staff on a more personal level,” said student Margarita Hernandez, one of the organizers.

Incorporating “agape,” a Greek word for love that seeks nothing in return and “latte,” a popular coffee drink, the student-led series was launched on the campus of Boston College in 2006. The Church in the 21st Century Center endowment has provided one year of grant funding to train Marymount personnel and to implement Agape Latte.

Hernandez, student Sarah Roegner and Ashton Mallon, Marymount’s associate director of Campus Ministry, went to Boston College for a week in February for training.

“I very much liked the venue and casual atmosphere,” said Rimkus, chair of Marymount’s biology and physical sciences department. “In the classroom, students can feel intimidated at times, but in this setting, it was much more like story-telling and we had a fair amount of questions as well. They were truly interested in my story and wanted to know more about me as a person.”

He welcomed the opportunity.

“Having college-aged children myself, I think I understand the struggles they are having, and letting them know that I am a God-fearing, God-trusting, and God-loving person just like them is a side they would not necessarily see in a classroom,” Rimkus said.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he added. “God is welcome in my class and topics certainly come up. Most often He will be mentioned as we discuss the design of the eye or the heart and just how impressive it is that these structures do so much for us and that they really are great creations.”

During his talk, the students got to know how Rimkus fell in love with his wife, Julie, while they were in college and how that shaped and changed his life. Rimkus also discussed his love of teaching biology, Marymount University, and the country of Belize, where for the past decade he has taken students to study hawksbill sea turtles and has developed a close relationship with the people of a small village there.

“During our first event it was so easy to look around the room and not only see but feel how tight-knit our community is,” Hernandez said. “That was truly beautiful to me.”

Photo caption
Dr. Todd Rimkus discussed “Love of Learning to Love of Teaching” before an audience of about 100 on April 19 at Marymount University’s initial Agape Latte session. Pictured, front row from left: Daniel Sanchez and Sebastian Monzon. Middle: Nicole Neron, Margarita Hernandez, Ashton Mallon, and Erin Munsterman. Back: Jorge Rivas, Alison Tett, Sarah Roegner, Dr. Todd Rimkus, Christa McMahon, and Father Tom Yehl.