The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, RCIA, which prepares people for confirmation, is now being offered in the Chapel on campus every Tuesday at 9 p.m. “It is a process, not a class; people choose to do it,” said Pastor Ted Brown, the Catholic chaplain and director of Religious Life at LIU Post. The confirmation process for this year started two weeks ago. However, anyone can join without missing any crucial parts up to mid-November. It is an hour to an hour and a half each week, depending on how many questions people have in the end, Brown said. Each session starts in October and ends in April. “They are learning as adults what Jesus is asking us to do for the world,” he added.
Each branch of Christianity handles confirmation differently so Reverend John F.C. Dornheim, the Protestant chaplain, helps students find their own specific requirements of confirmation for each branch of Christianity. “It helps people become better followers of Jesus Christ, as we really understand what Jesus wants us to do, help the poor,” said Brown. He is in charge of RICA and confirms candidates to become members of the Roman Catholic Church. Brown has been confirming LIU students since 1989; he said over the years about 100 candidates have been confirmed in the Chapel. “It is part of the job description [of being a pastor], if you think the faith is worth it yourself, than you want to pass it on,” said Brown.
Many people think they know all they need to about the Catholic Church once they are confirmed. “What happens to young people who have an eighth grade understanding of their faith? They don’t know how to handle adult problems; they need an adult understanding of their faith,” said Brown. Many people and adults think God is Mr. Fix It; they remember when they were struggling in life and that God didn’t solve their problem. However, God did help them through it, according to Brown.
“Confirmation was something that was pending, it had to be done for me personally and I wanted to do it here with Father Ted,” said Jesus Medesto, a senior art education major. He was confirmed last year by Father Ted and is now part of the National Catholic League; the largest Catholic Civil Rights Organization in the U.S. Medesto grew up in a Catholic family but did not receive confirmation when he was younger. “I wouldn’t have understood it or remembered anything. When you are older, you get to see the real reason you’re doing it,” said Medesto. He was waiting for the right time and opportunity. In Medesto’s opinion, it benefits you more when you are an adult because you are more consciously aware of your beliefs. “If it wasn’t for Father Ted, who told me about it, I wouldn’t have done it,” Medesto said. He joined RCIA soon after. “The best part of RCIA is you can ask anything, even the doubts you have about your faith,” he said. “I would definitely encourage others to do it. If you’re reading this and thinking about becoming confirmed, this is the place to do it,” said Medesto.
The confirmation learning process is not just for those wishing to be confirmed, but also for people who already are confirmed who want to learn more about their faith. Companions are people who are already confirmed who are involved in the sessions. They help the candidates through their journey while learning more about their faith.
“At first, I did it for myself but then I realized that it was extremely beneficial for those going through it for the first time,” said Erik Raessler, a senior physics major. This is Raessler’s third year of being a companion in RCIA. He said he shares his experience of getting confirmed and the struggles he had with his faith since he was a teenager. “Half of it [getting confirmed] was definitely for my parents. I got confirmed seven years ago, but there was always that spark to get confirmed for myself and that’s what pushed me to join RCIA for myself,” said Raessler. He wanted a more clear understanding of his faith as an adult in college. “It’s an experience that you’ll never have anywhere else; each year is different from the next even though it is the same material,” said Raessler. “It will be interesting to be a spiritual guide for the entire group this year.”
“People open their eyes to see that each person has the spark of the divine in him or her,” said Brown. Over the years, there has been a mix of confirmation candidates who grew up Catholic but never got confirmed and people of other religions who want to convert, he said. There are a handful of people who grew up Catholic but are just now getting confirmed before marriage so they can have the ceremony in a Roman Catholic Church, he added. This is a recommendation by the church but not a requirement, Brown said. One must be baptized and receive first communion in order to be confirmed into the Roman Catholic Church. As an adult, all three of these practices are done on the same day during the first ceremony, which takes place in the Chapel. “It is a process of allowing yourself to be closer to God; everyone is pretty much coming from the same spot,” he said.
“I want people to change the way they see the world that is hurting, broken and healing. In most cases, God works through us, and hears that call to say I’m going to work with you, Christ, to do the healing,” said Brown. To find out more information you can contact the Newman Catholic Campus Parish at (516)299-2229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.