St. John’s Community Members Complete R.C.I.A. Process

April 21, 2023

Fifteen 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 16, 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 and employees 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 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 reflections on how God moves through their lives.”

Those receiving the sacraments were Rhona Castanheiro, Isabella Conter, Alexandra Crespo, Jada Emmanuel, Berit Friedenbach, Abigail Hawker, Victoria Maiorana, Colette Metcalf, Paige Norwell, Gabriella Palencia, Ignacio Prieto Ruiz de Ojeda, Jessica Siniscalchi, and Andrea Vizzuett-Garcia, and employees Grace Kramer ’17TCB, ’18MBA and Pattarin Noonium.

“The R.C.I.A. program has been amazing. I feel like I was able to reconnect with my faith and myself by taking time out of my day every week to commit to something that really matters to me that was not academic related,” said Alexandra Crespo, who is in the five-year B.S. in Journalism and M.A. in Government and Politics program. “It was a full-circle process, and I had friends and family to support me through my personal journey.” 

“Being a part of R.C.I.A. at St. John’s has shown me what it truly feels like to be a part of such a faithful and peaceful community,” said Isabella Conter, a Psychology major at St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “It has been an indescribable feeling to be surrounded by people who share the same goal of strengthening our faith and becoming full members of the Church.”

She added, “R.C.I.A. meetings quickly became something I looked forward to each week for the past year because I felt the full support from our Campus Ministry, as well as my peers who were going through this same journey alongside me.”

For more information about joining the 2023–24 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., Director of Campus Ministry, at [email protected].