April 27, 2017
Communications and Marketing
On Sunday, April 23, during Mass in the Abbey Church, 21 members of the college community received sacraments of Christian Initiation, the largest group in recent memory. Two students received the sacrament of Baptism and then joined 19 students, one alumna, and one staff member, in receiving the sacrament of Confirmation. Of these 21, six also received their First Communion.
"As a Catholic and Benedictine institution, we are in the unique position to be able to engage our students in spiritual growth, witnessing and then joining them on their journey," said director of Campus Ministry Sue Gabert. "We, in campus ministry, couldn't be more filled with joy to journey with this class of 21 as they make this commitment to their faith."
Candidates spent the last seven months preparing for this day through the college's Preparation for the Sacraments program run by the Office of Campus Ministry. Attending hour-long, weekly classes, the candidates demonstrated dedication to their spiritual growth and to their faith.
"It's a powerful thing for these young women and men to decide to and make the commitment to this life of faith," said Gabert.
The group, which grew in size from 12 to 21 candidates over the course of the year, was unusually large compared to previous years. Abbot Matthew Leavy, O.S.B. attributes this year's anomaly to individuals' timing.
He said that several of the confirmation candidates believe they "slipped through the cracks," while others were not ready at the traditional age to make such a commitment.
"It was the common experience of this year's 21 candidates that this was the right moment to re-commit themselves to an adult understanding and practice of the faith," said Abbot Matthew.
He said that often those college students who seek Baptism have had a different experience than those seeking Confirmation. "Sometimes, they have been pondering and questioning the role of faith in their lives and while here on campus have gained a new undertaking of the importance of faith in their lives," he said.
The classes, led by Abbot Matthew, offered these young adults a different venue for learning and discussing matters of faith as well as what it means to be a member of the Catholic Church.
For alumna Gwen Goodwin '05, it was timing as well as the college community that drove her to finally find a solution to her questions of how, where, and when might she be confirmed. She already felt it was important to take the step towards confirming her faith but she hadn't found a program that was a good fit. With her upcoming nuptials in the Abbey Church approaching, Goodwin met with Gabert, learned about the college's program, and was welcomed into the group.
"From the moment I stepped on the Hilltop as a freshman, I felt like Saint A's was exactly where I needed to be. It has been a place of academic, personal, and spiritual growth from day one," said Goodwin. "I am so happy to have the opportunity to make the Sacrament of Confirmation here, and in September to take the Vow of Marriage in the Abbey Church because it will always be home, and as they say, ‘home is where the heart is.'"
Like Goodwin, student Kelsey Frahlich '18 found the college as a place to grow in faith; she received the sacrament of Baptism on Sunday. "When I became a student at Saint Anselm, just being a part of the community made me feel closer to God and many of the experiences I have had here have led me to this decision," said Frahlich.
Senior Michael Schmidt '17, who received the sacrament of Confirmation on Sunday, also cited the college's role in his decision. He spoke of philosophy and theology course requirements which prompted contemplation as well as conversations with members of the college community as influences in his decision.
At Sunday's Mass, Abbott Matthew performed Frahlich's and first-year student Maquila DiMastrantonio's baptism, and confirmed Frahlich, Goodwin, DiMastrantonio, and Schmidt, with their peers. He gave six candidates their First Communion.
Just as he shepherded the group of candidates through the process, sharing in their journey, teaching and nurturing them, Abbot Matthew was there to bless and welcome them as they entered into the faith community.
The candidates and their sponsors were joined at Mass by family, friends, and students. At the end of Mass, Abbott Matthew blessed Saint Anselm medals which he then presented to the newly confirmed members of the Catholic faith community.
Baptized and Confirmed
Maquila DiMastrantonio ‘20
Kelsey Frahlich '18
Jennifer Berglund ‘20
Zoie Cavotta ‘18
Samatha Cuomo '18
Alisha del Llano '18
Aidan Denehy '18
Bridgette Evans '19
Katie Farber '19
Gwen Goodwin ‘05
Catie Griffin '20
Mackenzie Kewley '19
Theresa Lemerise '20
Samantha Lingren '18
Meredith Piela '19
Joe Planz '20
Matthew Raymond '20
Michael Schmidt '17
MaKayla Sterling '18
Colleen Toomy '20
Christine Balquist '17 contributed to this story.