By NADIA MARIA SMITH
CS&T Staff Writer
Had someone predicted that her faith would be front-and-center in her life 10 years ago, Rebecca Sincavage would have never believed it.
In fact, by the time she got to high school going to Mass was something she had to do, not something she chose to do.
“My dad is a very strong, practicing Catholic, so I grew up going to church,” said Sincavage, a senior at Neumann College in Aston.
However, somewhere along the way she stopped believing, she said. That is until her sophomore year in high school when she had a life-changing experience at a youth conference sponsored by Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.
“It was the first retreat I’d ever gone on,” she said. “I signed up to go thinking it’d be nice to get away.”
What she thought would be a pleasant little vacation turned out to be a spiritual transformation in the midst of 3,000 teenage students. Sincavage broke down in tears before the Blessed Sacrament during the Holy Hour service.
“That was the first time that I can honestly say I realized that my faith was there, God was there and I had been denying it the whole time,” she said. “I remember everyone tried to calm me down but there was no stopping me (from crying).”
When she returned she got involved as a lector and an extraordinary minister of holy Communion for her parish youth Mass. She also became an active member of the youth group.
“Because I was so involved in high school with youth group and with Mass I wanted a small Catholic school where I could continue to strengthen that faith, especially in a society where it is so easy to fall away from faith and lose it,” she said.
“I wanted a school where I could feel comfortable openly expressing my faith because it is such a big part of who I am. I wanted a school that stood for the same beliefs that I did and Neumann fell into place. The moment I pulled up onto campus I knew – I got that vibe that this is where I’m meant to be.”
Over the past four years Sincavage has become increasingly involved in campus ministry. Currently a liturgical coordinator, she organizes every aspect of liturgies celebrated on campus.
She is also a campus orientation leader, serving as a mentor for 23 freshman students during their first semester. She helps them with time management, communication skills and generally guiding them to adapt to college life.
Sincavage is an education major and hopes to become an inner city school teacher upon graduation.
“I was always the little girl playing school. I knew from the time I was 5 that I wanted to teach,” she said. “If I wasn’t the teacher when I was playing school with my friends then I didn’t want to play. But from there it’s grown. I worked at a summer camp back in high school, and I worked with a student that had special needs so I thought I wanted to be a special needs teacher. But through Neumann I was given an opportunity to work in an inner city school – that is when I decided that teaching low-income inner city students is what I want to do.
“I hear it all the time: ‘Why would you want to teach in inner city schools? There is no money in that,’ but it’s that satisfaction of giving back and knowing I’m giving that little bit of hope that so many students may not realize is there,” she added.
Sincavage knows that her faith will help her get through any tough times ahead in teaching or anything life throws her way. “What I like about being Catholic is the sense that I am never alone,” she said. “In the Catholic Church there is always someone to turn to.”