While Merrimack College students spend the holiday with their families and loved ones off campus, the community comes together to celebrate on the following Sunday, by having a Mass for students who choose to receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the first Holy Eucharist. These students have spent the year dedicated to preparing and learning the ways of the Catholic Church.
Nine Merrimack students will receive sacraments on campus this year: Crystal Cedeno, Kate Culverhouse, Nicholas Flaherty, Luis Guerrero, Kayla Hodgkins, Priscilla Khaknejad, Edwina Maughan, Melissa Miller and Travis Terrill. They will receive a combination of baptism, first Holy Eucharist, and confirmation, unique to each student’s background.
Father Bill Waters proudly spoke of this group of dedicated students, who have been taking the process seriously while having fun at their meetings throughout the year. A few students shared their stories about why they made this decision and what this process has meant for them.
“What made me finally receive my sacraments was the need of having God in my life” said Cedeno, a sophomore at Merrimack, who has already been baptized in the Catholic Church, and will now receive first Eucharist and confirmation, “This experience has been amazing and I’ve learned things that I will always cherish. I’ve gotten closer to God and have found inner peace. This process has really been a learning experience” she shared.
Miller, a junior at Merrimack, who has already been baptized Catholic and received the Eucharist, and now she will be receiving her confirmation, spoke about how she feels that this is the right time in her life. “After coming to Merrimack and attending Mass regularly, as well as participating in a few service trips, I knew that I was ready. This process has been awesome.”
Hodgkins, a senior, who will be receiving baptism, the first Eucharist and confirmation, reflected on her time here, “After attending Merrimack, going on service trips, attending the M.O.R.E retreat twice, I had witnessed just how much of an impact religion can have not only on an individual’s life but also within the community as a whole. This really got me feeling like something was missing in my own life, and inspired me” she said.
Terrill, a senior, who was baptized as a Protestant, will be making a profession of faith to the Catholic Church, receiving the first Eucharist and confirmation. He said, “I want to pursue my life in the way of a good Christian. To give back whenever I can, to love everyone, to forgive. It is a very hard task to do, but in this commitment I will portray my life as a good Christian and that is why I am committing to receive the sacraments.”
In addition to regular meetings, the group saw the film “Nativity” before Christmas and went to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, for the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent, where they joined Cardinal Sean O’Malley and hundreds of others from the Archdiocese of Boston who are also receiving sacraments at Easter. They also view the film, “The Passion of the Christ” on Palm Sunday.
On April 23, the students will practice the tradition of recollection and reflection in preparation for the sacrament of initiation. This will happen over the course of six hours, and will be a meaningful time for them to commence their journey together. Merrimack is proud of the part they played in inspiring, supporting and empowering these students to shape their future through Christ’s teachings.