As we enter spring and dive into the Easter Season, so many graces flow from this season. Among the most exciting are the Sacraments of Initiation.

Within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Newman Centers at Temple University, Drexel University, and University of Pennsylvania welcomed about 30 students into the Church this Easter

College is one of the most definitive times of a young adult’s life. Seeing how many of these students take initiative of their faith into their own hands inspires hope for the next generation of Catholics.

Starting last September, these students began attending two OCIA (formerly RCIA) classes. Once a week they would meet to learn and discuss the practicality of the Church. In the second meeting, students would then talk more in depth about the theology of the Church. That said, it’s not all about the ‘how to’s’.

“One of the most efficacious aspects of the OCIA process is not just having these students show up to class every week, but rather watching them immerse themselves into the community. The community that embraces them is a fertile soil for their faith,” said Fr. Remi Morales, chaplain at the Penn Catholic Newman Community, which serves Penn and Drexel.

“These candidates are hungry for more; for the truth that is the Catholic Church and the intimacy that comes with knowing the faith more fully.”

This isn’t a journey that these students walk alone. Sydney Sunn, a junior at Penn who received her Sacraments of Initiation Easter weekend, expressed how “encouraging it was to learn not just from the priests and leaders that taught the classes but also from all her fellow candidates. It was beautiful to be part of this process with so many people.”

These students get to participate in the OCIA process with classmates, coworkers and, at times, teammates as well.

At the Temple Newman Center, three women participated in this journey together. Even though it was a smaller class, it allowed the women to have a more intimate and personal experience with each other and the staff.

“Learning from Fr. Mahoney and Sarah Mutchler was an incredible experience because they made it so comfortable and encouraging!” said Natalie Berg, a freshman at Temple.

Some students even continue this process after they graduate, like Rose Lawrence, a Drexel University alumna. Rose said “yes” to OCIA and preparing to enter the Catholic Church before she graduated and continuing her process after graduation, sharing, “My overall journey with God has been like a mountain, full of ups and downs but Jesus has been pulling me in this direction for quite some time. Re-immersing myself into my faith and being fully initiated into the Catholic Church has been a wonderful journey.”

The Nicene Creed is professed at every Sunday Mass, and during the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation, many candidates proclaim these statements for the first time – and it is beautiful.

Alyssa Siefring, a FOCUS Missionary at Temple and sponsor for Eryn Waters, a sophomore at Temple, said “Being able to witness Eryn be welcomed into the fullness of the Catholic Church firsthand was an incredible experience. I am eager to continue to journey with her as she explores the depths of our faith!”

In John 13:1, we read how “Jesus loved his own who were in the world, and he loved them to the end.” That is exactly what these sponsors and Newman Center communities do with these students.

As Fr. Morales shared, these communities are fertile soil for the faith of these students to blossom and it doesn’t end with the sacraments of initiation.

Rather, it is only just the beginning of their faith journey, and it is good.


Lucero Manzanares is a FOCUS missionary serving at Temple University. She and her FOCUS teammates work with Temple University Newman Center to host Bible studies and other activities to bring students closer to Christ.