St. John’s University RCIA Candidates Receive Sacraments of Initiation, Overcome COVID Challenges

Tags: Currents Bishop Cisneros, Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Inspiration, Queens, NY, RCIA, St John's University

By Emily Drooby

On Sunday, September 20 Briana Cedeño received her Sacraments of Initiation. It was a moment she will always cherish. The St. John’s University student was in the school’s Rite Of Christian Initiation for Adults Program.

The ceremony marked the beginning of a new life in Christ, one she chose as a college student.

“Sometimes you have to take a minute and say, ‘Okay I have all this stuff I need to do, let me just depend on God that he’s going to guide me through all my assignments that I need to do and everything will be okay,'” Briana explained.

This important milestone for her and her fellow RCIA candidates, like Stephanie DiGiorgio, was threatened by the pandemic.

“We were starting to pick out our confirmation names like we got really close to the final Sacrament towards Easter and then we all had to leave. And we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Stephanie said.

The program was moved online, while the ceremony was rescheduled from April to September.

However, there was still a fear: would the pandemic and all of the disruptions it caused lead the candidates astray?

“RCIA is a long process to begin with,” Andrea Pinnavaia, the university’s campus minister and RCIA coordinator, told Currents News. “And then to have to wait even longer, almost six months past when they should have been initiated” made it even longer.

Questions surrounding the timeline were heightened by a grim trend: a decrease in Catholic Americans and an increase in Americans with no religion. It’s a trend that’s most pronounced among the younger generations, according to a Pew research study.

However, the RCIA candidates remained faithful to their mission.

“So easily people could have lost contact or dropped out of the process, but they were all so determined to keep going so I was excited and relieved,” Andrea said.

On Sunday 13 candidates, including Stephanie and Briana, finally received their Sacraments of Initiation — Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of the Diocese of Brooklyn presided at the liturgy.

Some were unable to take part because of travel restrictions. Andrea tells Currents News that they will receive their Sacraments next semester.