by Tom Lombardo
On Sunday, April 10 the Catholic community of Boston College celebrated the initiation of eight undergraduate students and one graduate student, into the Catholic Church. The ceremony took place during a Mass held at St. Ignatius Church with Father Don MacMillan, S.J., of Campus Ministry as the celebrant. Seven catechumens: Zoe Bosenberg, CSON ‘18, Ryan Brown, MCAS Grad 2022, John Kiefer, MCAS ‘2019, Bryan Lee, MCAS ’19, Jenna Moscarelli, MCAS ’18, Jennifer Pema, MCAS ’19, and Steven Porritt, MCAS ’18, received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Two candidates for full communion into the Church, Travis Jeke, MCAS ’16, and Kelsey Kopanza, CSOM ’19, were previously baptized and received the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist. These newly initiated faithful have entered into mystagogy, reflecting further on their understanding of the Sacraments, becoming better integrated into our community of faith, and discovering how to participate fully into this community that welcomes them.
These nine students underwent a process known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a spiritual journey in which these men and women are called to form a deeper understanding of themselves, the Catholic faith, and God—all culminating in full reception into the Church through the above Sacraments of initiation. The RCIA program here at Boston College is run by Ellen Modica of the Office of Campus Ministry. Prospective catechumens and candidates meet weekly throughout the school year to discuss questions about the Church, their relationships with Christ, and issues of faith. These meetings provide time for personal reflection, prayer, and community building with the other catechumens and candidates, as well as facilitating discussion on specific topics and preparation for the next Sunday Mass. In addition to these weekly meetings, the participants are encouraged to attend Mass regularly and to incorporate prayer into their daily lives.
Travis Jeke MCAS ’16 explained that it was a series of several relationships which led him to seek full initiation into the Catholic Church. In addition to discussions with his Catholic girlfriend, Travis cited his grandmother’s deep religiosity and her influence on him in conversations that ranged from topics such as God’s love to devotions to St. Jude. When his grandfather, a man of strong faith, passed away Travis was given his necklace with a medal bearing the image of Christ; since that day Travis has not once removed it from his neck. A member of BC’s varsity hockey team, Travis spent a lot of time with Fr. Tony Penna, the team’s chaplain, who accompanied the team in prayer. Travis cited their many talks about Catholicism over his four years here at BC as an influence on his spiritual journey. Travis also noted that being a student at a Catholic, Jesuit university provided him with many resources which helped him along the way.
Travis’ story highlights just how important a role the Catholic faithful can have on those outside of the Church who are seeking God in their own lives. The greatest tool for evangelization is often simply the expression of our faith in our daily lives. Monsignor Liam Bergin, Professor of Sacramental Theology, adds that not only do the Catholic faithful have the responsibility to encourage others to join us, but that “the community that welcomes the new adult members is also challenged to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ,” especially as they support these neophytes who are seeking “to live the values of the Gospel.” Msgr. Bergin noted that, as Tertullian said in the third century, “Christians are made not born”: “in the RCIA program, the candidates undergo a holistic formation that conforms them to Jesus Christ.” It is important that all faithful Catholics remember that they too have undergone this same holistic change—that we are the mystical Body of Christ and, as such, that we must encourage one another to grow in faith and charity.
The Torch would like to extend congratulations to Zoe, Ryan, Travis, John, Kelsey, Bryan, Jenna, Jennifer, and Steven and offer them a warm welcome into the community of the Catholic faith. May we as a community embrace the responsibility to help them grow together with us in love for Christ and one another.
Anyone interested in learning more about the RCIA program here at Boston College is encouraged to reach out to Ellen Modica at firstname.lastname@example.org or Fr. Tony Penna at email@example.com or to stop by the Campus Ministry office in McElroy 233.