Canisius students join Catholic Church

By Matt Gorczyca
Griffin Reporter

Several Canisius students joined the Catholic Church this past Wednesday through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program.

Sue Fischer, coordinator of retreats for Campus Ministry, also leads the RCIA program and was thrilled with the warm reception several students had in joining the Church or renewing their baptismal vows.

“We have the RCIA program open for those who haven’t received the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Confirmation,” Fischer said. “We had a few students participate and because of the work of Liam Doherty we were able to welcome even more students who had not previously made their confirmation.”

Doherty, a junior, serves as the spiritual intern in charge of the RCIA program. His duties include one-on-one meetings with Fischer to help plan lessons and reflections as well as preparing materials and keeping in contact with candidates and their sponsors.

“People always say college is a time of searching, and for many that would include the search for God,” said Doherty. “At Canisius we are lucky enough to have programs like Kairos that allows students to make a closer connection to God and each other. For some, it also convinces them that they want to join the Catholic Church. RCIA provides such students a means to accomplish this.”

Fischer reiterated, saying that the retreat has been a driving force in making students more self-aware and seeking to get closer with God and join the Catholic Church.

Patty grasso, Executive Associate of Residence Life, took part in the celebration as the sponsor for senior Katherine Landahl. “It is such an honor to walk in faith along with my candidate as well as the others who are joining the Catholic Church,” she said. “My own faith is strengthened and my relationships with candidates, other sponsors, and Campus Ministry staff have grown.”

Other sponsors felt the same way.

“I think I have learned a lot more about the teachings of the Catholic church through this process and have had an opportunity to meet students that I otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet,” said Programming Coordinator and RCIA sponsor Mark Capellazzi. “More importantly, it reinvigorates my own faith. Having been Catholic all my life, I sometimes find myself going through the motions. For Kelsey and the rest of the candidates, they are experiencing the sacraments and the faith for the first time. The excitement, joy and enthusiasm they have is contagious.”

Capellazzi was the sponsor for senior Kelsey Alvarez, who received all the sacraments of initiation on Wednesday night.

“I joined RCIA because the past three years being at Canisius has opened an entire new world for me. I’ve met some of the most genuine and caring people who motivated me to be the best that I can be. These people helped me to see God every day, even if it was just bringing a smile to my face,” Alvarez said. “I wanted to leave Canisius as part of the Catholic church so that I could strive to be like these people spreading God’s helping hands, faith and love wherever life takes me after Canisius. I want to show the world how amazing Canisius is and by becoming a part of the Church, I think it will remind me every day to do so.”

Alvarez took the name of Margaret after St. Margaret of Scotland, who helped bring hope and positivity to the country in a time of despair. Alvarez as an education major hopes to bring the same hope and positivity to her future students.

“I think that being initiated into the church will fully help me to take Canisius along with me for the ride of life and go forth and set the world on fire,” said Alvarez.

Junior Brock Wilkinson had a similar experience to Alvarez.

“I had always claimed to be Catholic since I was younger and I thought this was a great way to get involved with Campus Ministry,” said Wilkinson. “I also went on Kairos this semester that was an excellent compliment to the RCIA Program. Spirituality is something everyone should explore and find their own! It’s a great way to round out the entire college experience.”

Fischer believes that through experiences like Kairos and other retreats students have been awakened in their spirituality, especially in the years of college when students naturally search for who they are, where they are going and what they want to do with their lives. Fischer, who was raised Methodist, was confirmed Catholic during her own college years.

“The main goal of this program is to build a community,” Fischer said. “It’s clear from this year’s group and their amazing response that our community continues to grow and welcome others.”

This year twelve students went through the program, as well as the fiancé of a Canisius alumnus. The program is also open to faculty and staff interested in joining the Catholic Church.

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