‘Spill the Tea’ amplifies diverse voices in the Catholic Church


Courtesy / Antony Abi Awad

(Left to right) Tarah Valin, Kayla August, Kathryn Williams at “Spill the Tea”

Tom Canuel, Crier Staff

The sounds of laughter and good conversation echoed through the Student Center as Office of Campus Ministry welcomed guests Kayla August and Tarah Valin to lead off their new dinner and discussion series called ‘Spill the Tea.’ August and Valin discussed how their preaching and poetry have helped amplify their voices and contextualize their experiences as black Catholics. 

Valin and August are both graduate students at Boston College studying theology. August is originally from New Orleans and is pursuing a Ph.D. in theology and education who has been known to preach about a variety of topics concerning women and race in the Church. Valin, a poet from Brockton, MA, is getting her Masters of Divinity and has written on a large range of topics, mostly related to relationships. 

The night began with food and fellowship before both presenters showed clips of their specialty. The first video came from August’s preaching on Mary Magdalene during Easter 2021 and the second a poem written and given by Valin. Shortly after, Valin and August responded to questions from audience members about their writing process and thoughts about the mediums of preaching and poetry. 

The question and answer portion of the event began to liven up when Valin and August were asked about how the Church can better support and amplify voices of color in the Church. The responses mostly focused on opportunity. August commented, “We have a God who sees me through my cultural perspective. We as Church should recognize there’s something in those other perspectives that can be given and something we should listen to.”

Valin felt similarly. “We need to look at the framework and ask who’s here and who’s not. What can we do to do something a little different? How can we make some noise and invite those we aren’t inviting?”

Student opinion about the event was overall positive. Junior Jill Barrett saw the event as transformative in her perspectives on women in the Church. “I have always wanted to be able to go into ministry, but seeing the way God has worked through real, beautiful, and humble women to glorify his name through intentional words encouraged my heart.” 

This was the first program run by Antony Abi Awad, the newest staff member to the Office of Campus Ministry. According to Abi Awad, the idea for the program came from an interest to open up programs to a wider audience of students and faculty. Abi Awad noted: “I’m looking at topics that will interest a variety of people that don’t come from campus ministry.”

In terms of the results of the program, Abi Awad noted that the turnout for the program was better than he thought it would be. “I was happy that the conversation started before Tarah and Kayla went up to speak. The interaction, amount of excitement, joy of encounter, and conversations were all major successes for this program, and I was glad to see a couple of new faces.”

Abi Awad’s ‘Spill the Tea’ series seeks to amplify diverse voices within the Church and provide opportunities for students to learn about different expressions of faith. The next part of the series will feature Prof. Ruiz from the theology department and Prof. Josephson from the politics department to discuss Anti-Semitism and the Passion narratives sometime before Holy Week.

“Spill the Tea” discussion series tackles the important task of highlighting
diverse voices in the Church. (Courtesy / Antony Abi Awad)