Thirteen members of the St. John’s University community made their commitment to a life of faith by receiving the Sacraments of Initiation at St. Thomas More Church on Sunday, September 20, an uplifting conclusion to almost a year of study and reflection through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.). They planned to receive their sacraments this past Easter, but suspension of public gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic pushed the celebration to the new academic year.
“It was a great joy to have arrived at this long-awaited day,” noted Andrea Pinnavaia ’07C, ’08G, Campus Minister for Liturgy and Faith Formation and Director of the student R.C.I.A. program.
“Witnessing their commitment and persistence over these last 12 months culminate in this deeply moving liturgy was a great blessing to me. Their happiness, and that of everyone in attendance, truly radiated the love of God.”
Focusing on prayer, study, and reflection, the R.C.I.A. process welcomes non-Catholics, as well as Catholics who may not have received some of the Sacraments of Initiation (i.e., Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) as children. Participants received those sacraments at the student Mass, which was presided by Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The R.C.I.A. process at St. John’s begins every September and continues through Easter. Through collaboration with faculty from the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Office of Campus Ministry, students and employees study all aspects of the Catholic faith at weekly gatherings. When campuses went remote in March, their formation was continued through Webex meetings.
“Becoming a Catholic was a very sacred experience that has changed my life for the better,” said Ashley Golden, a junior majoring in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. “R.C.I.A. has been an amazing journey.”
Receiving the sacraments were St. John’s students Briana Cedeño, Alexander Coger-Bonet, Stephanie DiGiorgio, Brian Finn, Anthony Flatt, Anna Grace Geoly, Ashley Golden, Jason Anthony Nikolatos, Cody Thomas Persaud, Jamie Posner, Britney Vargas, and Johnny Zheng. The group was joined by Jiyun Kim, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“It was a longer than normal journey, but it was worth all of it and became a richer experience as a result,” said Dr. Kim. “Sr. Pat made it an individually tailored experience, full of beautiful and deeper readings. I loved going to the morning Mass on campus to start the day; the liturgies were not only memorable, but magical.”
Six other students and one employee who completed the R.C.I.A. program this past year were not able to join the group on Sunday due to travel restrictions and other limitations imposed by the coronavirus. They will receive their sacraments of initiation in April, along with the new R.C.I.A. cohort who began their year of preparation last week. Those who went through the year together but were unable to attend had the opportunity to support their fellow community members via live-stream on Campus Ministry’s Instagram account.
“This was an unforgettable experience,” said senior Briana Cedeño, a Biology major.
“I grew closer to God, and I am so grateful that we were still able to celebrate and come together as a community.”
For more information about joining the 2020–21 R.C.I.A. student program on the Queens, NY, campus, contact Andrea Pinnavaia ’07C, ’08G at [email protected] Interested employees should contact Sr. Patricia Evanick, D.C. ’97GEd, Campus Minister for Faith Formation and Leadership, at [email protected] For the program offered on the Staten Island campus, contact Rev. Tri Minh Duong, C.M., Campus Minister for Vincentian Service and Faith Formation, at [email protected].
Current News Feature: St. John's University RCIA Candidates Receive Sacraments of Initiation, Overcome COVID Challenges