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SLU Students Study Catholic Ism

SLU Students Study Catholic Ism

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Published by Kareem Johnson

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Published by: Kareem Johnson on Mar 07, 2011
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SLU students study Catholicism By: Kareem Johnson Posted: 10/23/08 Each academic year, a few Saint Louis University students

take a journey of spiritual selfdiscovery that ends with their entrance into full communion with the Catholic Church. "I decided it was time to make that faith journey and become an official member," said sophomore Brandon Murray. Murray is a graduate of SLU's Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program at SLU. He felt that God was calling him to the Catholic Church, and to a vocation in the priesthood. He said that he had had these feeling since he was a sophomore in high school, but he only decided to begin the RCIA program after coming to SLU. Murray said that the RCIA program has taught him more about the faith practiced in the Catholic Church. "There are a lot of steadfast beliefs that we Catholics have," said Murray. "It's important to know [what] those are to be sure that this is something that you feel is important for your life, [something] that God has called you to be a part of." RCIA is the process by which adults become full members of the Roman Catholic Church. It takes place over two semesters, beginning in the fall, ending on Easter. According to the Rev. Nick Smith, the director of SLU's RCIA program, participants come from a wide variety of backgrounds. "You have all kinds of individuals here," said Smith. "So, you will have people who were not baptized into any tradition, people who were baptized into a Christian tradition and want to become full members of the Catholic Church or people who were baptized Catholic but were not confirmed Catholic." Participants attend meetings in Wuller Hall each Sunday evening prior to 10 p.m. Mass at College Church. The meetings usually last about an hour and half. The process begins with a period of inquiry during which individuals are encouraged to ask questions to "learn the basics of what the Catholic faith is about," said Smith. Later they begin an intensive study of the beliefs and traditions of the Catholic Church. Finally, during Lent, they engage in a special period of preparation before receiving the rites of initiation. Rachel Kondro, also a graduate of the RCIA program, comes from a large extended family of Catholics, and was baptized as one, but her parents converted to Evangelical Protestantism when she was child.

Kondro, estranged from the church, began her journey reading the writings of Flannery O'Connor, a 20th-century novelist and intellectual who wrote from a Catholic perspective. "That's what introduced me to the Catholic worldview," Kondro said. "It prepared my heart to think about grace in a different way." Kondro, who transferred to SLU as a junior, found herself immersed in the Catholic tradition for the first time after attending the Mass of the Holy Spirit at College Church at the beginning of the academic year. After reacquainting herself with the Catholic Church, Kondro feels that she has increased capacity to share God's love with others. "I think I look at the world through a different lens, a 'sacramental' lens, and I see God at work in the world." Jon O'Connor, a current student of RCIA, pursues Catholicism because it offers a faith that "binds the heart and mind," he said. "From what I'm used to, we just kind of listen to the Bible and kind that to be literal and therefore the truth. I've kind of moved beyond that. I like to use my reasoning skills." He said that he uses reasoning to take what the Bible says and to apply it to his daily life. He also appreciates the church's stance on social justice issues. "I want to make a difference in this world in some way, and I feel that the best avenue for me to live out those actions is with this church," O'Connor said. Now in the first month of his journey, he feels that he is more open to talking about his newfound faith and celebrating that with others. Before beginning the RCIA program, he told his parents of his decision to become Catholic. "I took them to the Hard Rock Café, and in the midst of very loud rock and roll music," said O'Connor. "I told them I was going to be involved in this program next year, and explained to them what is was." His father was supportive, but his mother had other ideas. "My mother, on the other hand, her first reaction was, 'You are not going to become a priest, are you?'" said O'Connor. "After taking that to heart, I was like, 'No, Mom, I have no calling to become a priest; I don't want to become a priest.' 'Well you want babies don't you?' 'Yes Mom, I want lots and lots of babies.'"

With his mother's concerns resolved, O'Connor, along with students like Murray and Kondro, will continue to seek spiritual fulfillment through SLU's RCIA program.

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