By Jessica Easthope
Receiving the sacraments is what Divine Mercy Sunday would have looked like for St. John’s University’s candidates coming through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program. This year, it was supposed to happen on April 19, but is postponed due to the coronavirus.
“When the pandemic hit, we were pretty much toward the end of our educational classes but RCIA is a faith journey,” explained Sister Pat Evanick, the university’s Campus Minister for Faith Formation and Catholic Leadership.
She works with faculty who are RCIA candidates. Since September, she’s helped Jiyun Kim, an associate professor of biology, on her faith journey.
“I go to Mass, and I’m spiritually renewed, and that experience is not possible at non-Catholic universities,” she explained.
This year’s class is made up of 20 people. Eleven, like Jiyun, have prepared to receive all of their sacraments. The other nine were baptized Catholic, but never followed through.
Stephanie DiGiorgio is a 21-year-old pharmacy student at the school. She says that when she started school at St. John’s, she couldn’t help but answer a strong calling from God.
“I stopped going to CCD when I was in elementary school because I didn’t want to go and I didn’t feel a connection to it,” she told Currents News.
“I fell in love with the church there, and that opened up my whole feeling of wanting to explore more of my faith and it’s where I felt my faith,” she added.
But with being forced to cancel weekly meetings, the RCIA candidates’ new faith is being tested. They can’t hold hands or pray together, yet their connection is stronger than ever.
“Reaching out to each other, texting each other saying I hope you guys are still praying, we’re all keeping in touch it’s nice to know we’re all in this together.”
Sr. Pat says knowing the candidates encourage each other confirms for her that they already have something that can’t be taught in religious instruction.
“This is the norm for them, they don’t have those traditional pieces we fall back on. Their faith is built on the small things which I think is a challenge for us constantly, to be in communion with God about,” she said.
The candidates are still praying and are hoping to make their sacraments next semester on September 20.