Some students, who may never have experienced the Church’s love before, are unable to resist Christ’s call during their time at Benedictine. Through Benedictine’s community, teachers, sacraments, and RCIA program, opportunities abound for non-Catholic students to encounter the Faith.
Matthew Gephardt is a senior finance major who was baptized into the Episcopalian Church. While attending a Catholic high school, he discovered Catholicism for the first time.
“I hadn’t considered converting at that point, but I was very curious. During my sophomore year of college, I was invited to Mass by a friend of mine. I went to Mass and all the feelings and emotions I had felt before started to come back. I started attending Mass regularly, and in about 6 months, I decided that it was the right decision to make with my life,” Gephardt said.
Father Ryan Richardson, chaplain of Benedictine, spoke about the students who convert to Catholicism during college.
“Many students who convert tend to be student athletes. Most of our students come here because they want to come to a Catholic school, but we have 800 student-athletes, most of whom came here primarily because of the strong athletic and academic programs, and through no fault of their own have never been exposed to Catholicism.,” Fr. Ryan said. “A lot of the work has been done through the coaches providing an atmosphere where faith is an important element of playing sports. They encounter the faith through team Bible studies and Mass, and others have been converted through faith requirements and intro classes that have sparked an interest.”
Gephardt credits Benedictine for influencing his conversion.
“Benedictine provides a community to learn and explore the Catholic Faith in great depth. I went to a devout Catholic high school, but I was never close with true, practicing Catholics,” Gephardt said. “This is one thing I found at Benedictine, that I hadn’t experienced beforehand… I had many questions along the way and there were things that I got hung up on, but I was surrounded by people and an RCIA program that were there to help me fully immerse myself in the Catholic Faith.”
Fr. Ryan agreed. “I would say the main reason (for conversion) is them experiencing a thriving Catholic community here and wanting that to be part of their own lives.”
Fr. Ryan added that there will be about 10 students joining the faith and receiving the sacraments for the first time this year.
When Ravens utilize the many opportunities to receive the sacraments and show Christ’s love to others, it will have amazing results.
“The access to daily Mass and the other sacraments has been such a blessing in my life and my walk with Christ, and the encouragement from the community helps hold me accountable for my relationship with God,” Gephardt said.
For anyone interested in learning more about the Faith here at Benedictine, there are many opportunities.” Fr. Ryan said, “On Monday nights are our RCIA classes which are open to any students. We go through a whole teaching on what it means to be Catholic, the Catechism, and a variety of topics. Those are called Emmaus Nights, where students can be in an open atmosphere to hear talks about specific Catholic topics and have a Q&A to discern whether they would like to become Catholic. That’s the best way to do a systematic exposure to Catholicism.”
Gephardt encourages other students to make their faith an important aspect in their lives.
“Faith has been a guide through some of the most challenging things in my life, and daily devotion to something more important than myself has given me the ability to share the love of God with others,” Gephardt said.
For more information about the college’s RCIA team, contact at the ministry officer.