RCIA to initiate three students into Catholic faith

When Steve Blaha came to Marquette three years ago to start a program for initiating students into the Catholic Church, the intent wasn’t about converting as many non-Catholics as possible.

“We’re not in the numbers business,” Blaha said. “Our goal is to shape our program around a student’s life while making sure that the Catholic Church is right for them.”

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is how three students who are not Catholic will become fully initiated into the church this Sunday at 4 p.m. at Gesu Parish. They will be baptized, receive their First Communion and be confirmed.

In addition, four students will be baptized and 10 students will be confirmed on Sunday. Each of these students has undergone a journey in the faith, Blaha said, though those being fully initiated had it the toughest.

Bethany Snyder, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, is one of those students.

“Throughout the process, I learned how important my faith life is to me. It has been wonderful to grow closer to God in prayer and service,” Snyder said.

Snyder said that she had been thinking about joining the Catholic Church for awhile, but that taking Susan Mountin’s Christian Discipleship of Dorothy Day class last spring actually inspired her to seek out the RCIA.

“(It) really helped solidify the decision for me,” Synder said. “Before that I was interested but I didn’t fully agree with everything like I thought I should. Dr. Mountin taught us that it is important for us, as the Church, to help challenge and move the Church forward in social justice issues.”

Snyder went to Campus Ministry at the beginning of the year to start her RCIA process.

“We let them know that they are in for a powerful experience and a major commitment,” Blaha said. “It is not right for everyone.”

Those preparing for the sacraments attend Mass each Sunday and take part in group prayer and reflection. They go on retreat, do service work with the poor and keep a journal about the initiation process.

Blaha said RCIA at Marquette is designed specifically for students’ busy schedules. In the past, some students have dropped out because they were unsure if they were being called. Blaha said always respects students’ choices as “good discernment.”

Christina Schreiber, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, is also receiving full initiation into the church.

She said that even with her hectic schedule this year, she has always been able to find time for her RCIA events.

Blaha said it is an enriching experience to work with the initiates.

“We get such phenomenal students each year,” he said. “For these students, their faith lives are vibrant and authentic. They each truly have the mark of a healthy spiritual life and strong faith.”

Synder said the Catholic Church “gives me life,” and that going to Mass and being part of the congregation is how she learned to express her faith in God.

“The process has been wonderful. Steve Blaha, the team and my peers in the program are all wonderful and it has been great to learn from and with them,” she said.