by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness
Trinity High School in Camp Hill celebrated the initiation of four students into the Church during a special Mass to kick off Catholic Schools Week on Monday, January 29.
Philip Gaus, Jason Knisely, Anthony Matzoni and Landry Murray received the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist from Bishop Timothy Senior during the schoolwide liturgy.
“This celebration today is at the center of what we do as our mission here at Trinity,” said principal John Cominsky, who acknowledged the faculty and the families and sponsors of the four students. He also expressed gratitude for their allowing the Trinity community, especially campus minister Maria Villarino, to work with the students after they expressed their desire to fully join the faith community.
Addressing the student body in his homily prior to the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation, Bishop Senior remarked that “During Catholic Schools Week, we can reflect upon what Catholic education is all about. First and foremost, it is about creating an environment where young people can come to know Jesus Christ and develop their spirituality and their relationship with God.”
“For the four students today, their faith journey and their relationship with God leads them to the point where Landry, Anthony and Jason become Catholic. Philip joins them in being Confirmed,” he said.
“All of us are encouraged to think about how God wants to renew us,” Bishop Senior said. “Maybe you feel really strong about your faith and feel really close to God. Maybe you feel like you’re not so close to Him for whatever reason. Maybe you’re wondering where He is in your life. God knows where He is in your life; He’s right there for you, and He wants to renew your awareness of how much He loves you.”
A number of priests from parishes that support the Trinity community concelebrated the Mass: Father Donald Bender, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Carlisle; Father Kenneth Smith, pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Mechanicsburg; and Father Jonathan Sawicki, pastor of St. Theresa Parish in New Cumberland; as well as Father Matthew Cannon and Father Kenneth Roth, who have served as school chaplains in addition to their respective assignments as parochial vicars at St. Theresa’s and at St. Joseph in Mechanicsburg.
During the Sacrament of Confirmation, each student was accompanied by their sponsor onto the stage, where Bishop Senior anointed their foreheads with Sacred Chrism.
In receiving Communion, the students knelt individually to receive the Precious Body from Bishop Senior and the Precious Blood from Deacon Scott Root, a member of Trinity’s Theology Department.
Standing in the lobby as their fellow students departed the auditorium after Mass, the newly initiated received many words of congratulations, handshakes and high-fives from their peers. Family members, sponsors and friends – many with tears in their eyes – embraced the students as they offered congratulations during a reception after the Mass.
“It was good to receive the sacraments in front of the student body, and hear their comments of support after the Mass. Going to a Catholic school has really helped me along my journey in the faith,” said Philip. He told The Witness “it feels very special” to join the rest of his family in the Catholic Church.
For Landry, who grew up in the Episcopal Church, she was inspired to join the Catholic Church after she arrived at Trinity. She said she wanted to be able to fully participate in the Mass and be a total part of the Trinity community.
“Today was one of the best days of my life, if not the best day of my life,” Jason told The Witness. “When I went up there and Bishop Senior put the oil on my head, it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. I felt such peace.”
Previously educated in public schools, Jason said he came to Trinity in order to deepen his faith. “Coming here was the best decision I could have made because this school gives you a lot of support to get closer to Christ, and it has helped me become a better Christian,” he said.
Anthony echoed those sentiments, and said his experience at Trinity bolstered his faith.
“I’ve grown up always being taught about God and being introduced to the faith. When I came to Trinity, and I started to learn more in Theology class, things really started to click and I began to explore more,” he said.
Anthony’s sponsor is his friend and classmate, Paul Gunther. “Paul has been a great friend of mine ever since I came to Trinity and has been a positive influence,” he said.
“Today was an awesome experience for me. I think receiving the sacraments in front of the student body was a good witness for everyone, and very exciting,” Anthony remarked.