Nine 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, April 24—an uplifting conclusion to almost a year of study and reflection through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.).
“The St. John’s community has once again been blessed by students who have chosen to deepen their relationship with God through a commitment to the Church,” noted Andrea Pinnavaia ’07C, ’08G, Campus Minister for Liturgy and Faith Formation, and Director of the student R.C.I.A. program. “Every year, more and more students and employees come forward wishing to become Catholic for life. It’s a great joy to accompany them through the year that culminates in the initiation liturgy,” she said.
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 Emeritus Octavio Cisneros, Diocese of Brooklyn, NY.
The R.C.I.A. process at St. John’s begins every September and continues through the Easter season. In collaboration with faculty from the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, community partners from the Diocese of Brooklyn, NY, and the Office of Campus Ministry, students and employees study all aspects of the Catholic faith at weekly gatherings.
“The heart of the program takes place around these weekly tables,” Ms. Pinnavaia noted. “Participants have the chance to learn about what the Church teaches, ask burning questions, and share reflection on how God is moving through their lives.”
Receiving the sacraments were students Ryan Handley, Seamus Molloy, Blanca Moreno, Mia Palumbo, Laura Rivera, Samantha Sebhatu, and Marco Varriale. The group was joined by Julia Doody ’20C and senior Alicia Venter, who were part of the 2019–20 R.C.I.A. cohort, but unable to attend last year’s Mass due to the pandemic.
“I am so grateful that I was able to receive the sacraments,” reflected Alicia, who will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. “When I had just finished the R.C.I.A. process in 2019, the University was forced to send all students home due to the pandemic. It hurt to think that I would be forced to wait until after graduation to receive the sacraments. When Andrea reached out to me saying I would be able to finish the process this year, I was elated.”
She added, “Being able to take R.C.I.A. classes at St. John’s presented me a chance to do what I always wanted in my heart. I will always be thankful to Andrea—and to my first-year roommate and sponsor who showed me when classes began—and to Campus Ministry for the wonderful sessions that put me at ease and made me certain that I was meant to be a member of the Catholic Church.”
“I am genuinely grateful for the R.C.I.A. program,” recalled Samantha, an English major. “Not only was I able to make the sacrament of confirmation, but I was given a second family and a place to practice my faith at my own pace on my own path. The Church serves as a haven and a place of peace for me and many others. My faith is strengthened, and my heart feels whole again. I recommend everyone to consider the program; it is a very rewarding experience.”
For more information about joining the 2022–23 R.C.I.A. student program on the Queens, NY, campus, contact Andrea Pinnavaia 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, NY, campus, contact Rev. Tri Minh Duong, C.M., Campus Minister for Vincentian Service and Faith Formation, at [email protected].