by Margo Borders
On Sunday, April 27, the Boston College community welcomed eight new young people into the Catholic Church. The five catechumens baptized were Molly Javes, Daniel Lee, Nicholas Nelson, Kayla Mendonca, and Ashley Brown. The three candidates who completed the profession of faith were David Ellis and Paige Cargioli. Sarah Moritz was confirmed into the Church. The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Joseph O’Keefe, S.J., Fr. Paul McNellis, S.J., and Fr. Don MacMillan, S.J.
The new members of the Church went through a two semester Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program, which included weekly two-hour meetings. These meetings provided an opportunity for input, sharing, prayer, and community building. The catechumens and candidates followed a syllabus in order to learn about the Church, and they often talked about Scriptures for the following Sunday. The RCIA program is similar around the world for those wishing to enter the Church.
During the Mass, Fr. O’Keefe presented the homily, which emphasized the catechumens and candidates as a source of “consolation, strength, and hope” for us. Through their entrance into the Church, we understand anew our own baptism. He touched on the Gospel reading of “Doubting Thomas,” and as Thomas was a witness to Christ’s Resurrection, we are witnesses to the Resurrection in how we live out our faith; and those entering the Church are radical witnesses to us in their faith. After the homily, those catechumens to be baptized processed to the back of the Church while the congregation sang the Litany of the Saints. The professions of faith from those already baptized came next, followed by the Confirmation of all catechumens and candidates into the Church. Each received the Eucharist for the first time later in the Mass.
Daniel Lee, a newly baptized member of the Church, said that he was influenced by the BC community in deciding to become Catholic.
“With my additional abroad experiences in different parts of the globe, I realized how special the BC community was. And, this realization led me to another realization that the Jesuit identity makes this institution more special than other places,” Lee said.
Lee found support through his peers, including his sponsor Therese Tully, A&S ’14.
“Although [Therese] had never mentioned the word Jesus- in fact, I didn’t even know she was Catholic- her good and unconditional actions for others and communities gave me a sense of comfort in a community boundary, which I hadn’t really experienced,” Lee said.
For Sr. Mary Sweeney, director of the RCIA program on campus, the most rewarding part of guiding the catechumens is helping them to do what they want, enter into the Eucharist, and giving them a sense of ownership of their faith. Sr. Sweeney emphasized the many resources on campus for those interested in entering the Catholic Church, including theology classes, lectures, and the conversation partners they can find in their peers.
“The process [of becoming Catholic] has been comfortable as I found resources everywhere,” Lee said. “The RCIA program definitely taught me the specifics of the faith. I loved the experience in understanding what and how it means to be a Catholic.”
For the newly professed members of the Catholic Church, this is an opportunity to participate in the sacraments and to find belonging in a global community.
“I can’t explain how happy I was when I received the first Eucharist at Baptism and the second one at the Monday morning Mass,” Lee said. “As an international citizen, I’ve felt alone for a long time in different regions of the world. Finally I belong to a community where I feel universal comfort.”