April 05, 2024
Ten Catholic University students joined the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil this year. (Catholic University/Patrick G. Ryan)

The Brookland and Catholic University of America community members gathered by a fire  that illuminated Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church in Brookland to celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass on March 30. The natural anticipation of the evening was furthered by the fact that ten members of the University community received the sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation, with some being baptized as well.

Before receiving their sacraments, the ten catechumens and candidates met weekly on Sunday for a program called the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults. The preparation classes featured guest speakers and taught the students about Catholic Rites and what it meant to be Baptized, receive First Communion, and be Confirmed. The culmination of this faith journey was the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday. 

The Vigil Mass began outside, with community members gathering by candlelight. The students received their sacraments to applause from the crowd and proud tears from their parents and families, all highlighting the joyful culmination of hard work and conversation with God. 

After joining the Church, students were overjoyed. (Catholic University/Patrick G. Ryan)

Sara Carrigan, a first-year politics and physics major, says that her process of deciding to convert was initially difficult. However, the challenge was not without God’s guidance and many prayers. Carrigan says that, “Conversion felt too scary- too difficult, but God called and I could not hang up. The decision was never in my hands- God wanted me to be with Him through the Church.”

Carrigan eventually was baptized, received her first Holy Eucharist, and was confirmed during the Mass.

“I went on a retreat called Kairos in which I encountered Jesus in a very real and very impactful way,” she said. “I realized I could no longer push God or myself aside and must convert.”

She added that her road to the faith, alongside the University Community, was natural. She added, “I know now that God wanted me to convert here and with these people.” 

The University community had ten students join the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil Mass. (Catholic University/Patrick G. Ryan)

Catherine Weatherwax, a student who received her First Communion, furthers Carrigan’s points of conversation with God.

Weatherwax said she “felt God was calling me to know Him more, and when I learned about OCIA, I realized it was the perfect opportunity to convert to Catholicism while being surrounded by the support I would need.”

While discerning, Weatherwax felt the University’s supportive environment aiding her journey. “I have been surrounded by the most beautiful, welcoming, loving support I could have ever asked for. The community at Catholic has surpassed all my expectations in encouraging me to live the faithful life that God has called me to!” 

Weatherwax will continue to be introduced into the Church community alongside her peers at Catholic University. She will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on April 7.

Father Bernard Knapke, O.P., who guided the students through this process and celebrated Mass with them said, “Working with students along the whole journey to the point of their rebirth or their first Holy Communion has deepened my sense of priestly fatherhood and filled me with gratitude for God's amazing grace. This Easter has been the high point of my first year as a chaplain on this campus.”

University chaplains gather with the University students who were received into the faith during the Easter Vigil Mass. (Catholic University/Patrick G. Ryan)