by Hannah Langley ’21
RCIA, or the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, has given Providence College students the opportunity to learn and grow in the Christian faith for many years. This year, PC saw its largest participation in the RCIA program yet, with a total of 34 students receiving the Sacraments of Initiation.
This year’s RCIA class was directed by Father Dominic Verner, O.P., who had help from Sister Anne Frances Klein, O.P, assistant director of the RCIA program, and Kelli Jenney ’19, the RCIA student coordinator. The class, consisting of eight seniors, six juniors, six sophomores, and 14 freshmen, met with the RCIA team once a week to “study the Catholic faith, ask questions, and learn about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ,” explained Fr. Dominic.
While all 34 students received the sacrament of Confirmation, several received multiple sacraments at the same time. The RCIA service allows students of the faith to receive each of the Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion—at one time, as well as receive full communion with the Catholic Church if switching from another Christian denomination. Of the 34 students receiving Confirmation, five also received Baptism and First Holy Communion, two were received into the Catholic Church and received First Holy Communion, and six received only First Holy Communion.
The RCIA Mass, which took place on Sunday, April 22, proceeded as a typical Mass, but the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation were administered following the homily. The Liturgy of the Eucharist followed the reception of these sacraments, and those students receiving First Holy Communion for the first time participated in receiving the Eucharist.
In preparation for the RCIA mass, the students went on several retreats throughout the year, where they assisted organizations such as My Brother’s Keeper, as well as participated in other fun activities. The retreats were also a time of prayer and reflection for the students in preparation for their full reception into the Catholic Church.
The RCIA program had 21 students participate last year and 13 the year before. As the record proves, this year’s class was substantially larger than the previous years, and Fr. Dom was extremely happy with the large turnout of students. Abby Mansolillo ’21 talked about why she decided to participate in the RCIA program at PC. “I grew up Catholic,” she explained, “but never had anything more than the ‘go to mass with your parents but never really understand what’s happening’ type of relationship with my faith.” She mentioned how she realized that she wanted to expand upon and grow in her faith when she came to PC, so she joined the RCIA program to fulfill the sacrament of Confirmation and become a full member of the Church. She continued, “I am so grateful to RCIA and PC for bringing God into my life at a time where I needed Him the most.”
Following the Mass on Sunday, Jenney spoke about her experience as student coordinator for this year’s RCIA group. “It was beautiful watching each student go up to the Bishop to get confirmed during the Mass,” she said. “Knowing the students’ stories of their faith life helped me recognize how important this sacrament is.” Jenney wanted to emphasize how honored she was to be part of this process and journey for all the students, and that she is proud of all of them.