April 14, 2005 • Volume 13 Number 15

'In My Heart I Know That This Is the Right Decision'

At a special Mass held this past Sunday at St. Ignatius Church, nine Boston College undergraduate students and one graduate student came into full communion with the Catholic Church, thanks to a special program offered through Campus Ministry. Chronicle invited the students to share some of their thoughts about becoming Catholic, about the church they just joined and the late Pope John Paul II.

Courtney Anderson '04 (GA&S)

I have grown up with, but not in Catholic communities since a young age. So indirectly, Catholicism has been very much a part of my life. During my senior year at Boston College, I went on an immersion trip to Nicaragua. That experience of a community of faith, of Catholicism boiled down and simplified and exposed in its rawest form was really crucial for me. It was a major inspiration for my spiritual quest.

The RCIA [Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults] process has been deeply moving, compelling, and really explosive. I had expected that at the end of this program, I would know all that I would need to know about Catholicism. I read countless books and looked at scripture and took notes and went to Mass to perfectly prepare myself for April 10th.

Then I realized that the revelations would be life long. Religion is not really something that you can ever perfectly prepare yourself for. I am so thrilled to become a member of this church and spend my life learning and being re-exposed and continuing to be awed by the epiphanies. I think many of us will leave the program with the sense of being always a part of the RCIA process, of being lifelong disciples of God and students of the Church.

I am now a graduate student pursuing my MA in English. However, I did just graduate last year. God calls people to this process at unique and different times in their lives. Personally, I really wouldn't have been prepared for it any earlier. I would not have appreciated its fullness. However, I think that college can be a place that is really affirming of faith and can be a great place to strengthen your beliefs, particularly BC. Several of my college friends have encouraged me enormously in my conversion to Catholicism. It is easy to find a supportive community to open up to about religion if you look in the right places.

The crises in the Catholic Church have been a reason for me to join the Catholic Church. For instance when someone you care about is going through a difficult time, or has made an enormous error, you would want to support them, to nourish them with hope and love. In the same way, this is not a time to walk away from the Catholic Church. If it is something that you care about deeply, then you want with every fiber of your being to revitalize it with your faith and love and gratitude. The scandal in the church is a remainder for me that the Church is a human institution, kept alive by and for humans. It is not perfect and will never be. But we do have the power to make it better.

I had seen the pope several years ago during a trip to Rome. He was certainly awe-inspiring and of course his death is incredibly sad. On the other hand, he has brought so many Catholics together over his lifetime and through his death that it becomes hard to concentrate on the tragedy of his death. It becomes a celebration of the life of a man who really loved the Church and loved its people.

The idea was recently communicated to me by a close family friend that it is an incredible time to enter into the Catholic Church. She reminded me that each of us is loved by God in the same measure that the pope was loved by God. It was a message to love in the same measure, although perhaps in different ways. The pope stands as an amazing figure for us at this time. He lived in a way to which we should all aspire.

Alvin Siu '07 (CSOM)

What actually helped me realize that I wanted to become Catholic was a course I took during my freshmen year, Perspectives on the Western Culture. In the course, I read a lot of literature by famous philosophers and theologians that helped me become more open minded to ideas of spirituality and faith. Because of this (and with the help of the Holy Spirit) I developed my faith.

How was I feeling? Nervous, excited, scared. There are all sorts of emotions going on for me. I am nervous and scared of how I will do as a Catholic, however I am excited to live out my life with faith by my side.

The cases on sexual abuse by the clergy have had absolutely no affect on my choice in joining the Catholic Church. The sexual abuse incidents were absolutely wrong, any moral person can see that. If I had thought in anyway that the priest scandals represented the moral fabric of the Church itself, I would not be here as a Catholic. One cannot give up their faith because of an incident like this. People must understand that those "priests" were human beings (meaning not perfect) that had problems. We cannot judge the entire organization of the Church and our faith based upon men who made such terrible mistakes.

Leigh Going '07 (CSOM)

I was raised in the Catholic Church from the time I was born, but I hadn't thought about what being Catholic really meant until I came here. Being a part of the Catholic community at Boston College made me reallocate where I stood spiritually and religiously. After talking to the ministers in Campus Ministry and studying different religions on my own, I decided that Catholicism is something I definitely want to pursue.

The process of becoming Catholic wasn't challenging in a physical sense, but more of a spiritual and mental way. Coming into the program, I thought I would just learn about the religion and go through each day like a class, but I ended up growing closer to God as well as the other members of the group. I found that I'll never know everything about the religion, but there will always be someone there to experience the journey with me.

I'm very excited to complete this process. After watching others complete it during Easter Vigil, I grew anxious to partake in the ceremony myself. I'm not scared because I have thought about this long and hard, and even though I may second guess myself sometimes, in my heart I know that this is the right decision.

I was pleasantly surprised how supportive my friends were when I told them about my decision. Most of my friends will be attending the Mass and will be there to help me along the way. It makes me realize how close and supportive the Boston College community is.

The clergy sexual abuse scandal had no impact on my decision to become Catholic. I'm sure that it was a shock to everyone and made everyone think hard about what we were doing, but ultimately I know that this church is full of goodness and will continue to remain that way as long as the people of the church support it.

John Paul II was a wonderful leader, and being under that leadership is a comforting thing, but it wasn't a main decision in this process. I think that all of us are touched by his life and the gifts he's brought us, and I'm sure the Church will be able to bring us another Pope to lead us in the right direction.

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