Supporting Skyhawks Sacramentally
Long-running Campus Ministry program helps students prepare for Confirmation.
Jessika Crockett-Murphy ’24 of Marshfield, Massachusetts, may not have grown up attending church, but the political science major has found a home in Campus Ministry through her involvement with initiatives like The Farm at Stonehill and the H.O.P.E. Service Immersion Program.
“I’ve felt so accepted and welcomed by Stonehill’s spiritual community,” she said. “They’ve helped me find answers to some of life’s big questions.”
After spending the last few years exploring how faith factors into her life, Crockett-Murphy recently decided to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Stephen Driscoll ’23, a student worker for Campus Ministry, will be her sponsor as she officially joins the Catholic Church.
“He’s been a constant in my journey,” she said. “He gave me my first rosary. He’s been there for me through times of uncertainty. He’s been patient and willing to teach me what it means to be Catholic.”
Crockett-Murphy will be confirmed by Edgar Moreira da Cunha, S.D.V., bishop of the Diocese of Fall River, on campus in early 2023. She and other Stonehill students have spent this semester preparing for this rite of passage by taking a class led by Rev. Anthony Szakaly, C.S.C., director of campus ministry and alumni minister.
The Holy Cross priest has taught Stonehill’s Confirmation course for the past two years. Previously overseen by Rev. Bryan Williams, C.S.C., and the late Rev. Tom Halkovic, C.S.C., the program was created to serve students who were unable to get confirmed in high school.
“Sometimes, sporting events or other extracurricular activities didn’t allow them to attend classes when they were younger,” Szakaly said. “Sometimes their faith was revived when they came to Stonehill, and they felt being confirmed was a good way to get reattached to the faith. Sometimes, the students are baptized in another Christian denomination and wish to become a Catholic by making a Profession of Faith at the Confirmation Mass.”
The program has taken many forms over the years. Typically, students come together on Sundays to discuss topics like finding a vocation or reading the Bible, among other matters. Though Fr. Williams and Fr. Halkovic taught the classes themselves, Fr. Szakaly relies on guest speakers to help shape the curriculum.
“I prefer to get others involved to draw upon their expertise and to keep things interesting,” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the candidates to hear about topics from people who are experts in the area that we are covering that class. I use a mix of clergy and lay members of the Campus Ministry staff.”
“Fr. Wilbricht will offer a presentation on the Sacraments since that is his academic area of expertise,” Fr. Szakaly said. “Brittany will lead the class on Catholic social teaching.”
“You don’t have to go in with a lot of experience, if any,” he said. “That’s one of the great things about the program.”
Fr. Szakaly tries to individualize the course to his students’ needs and backgrounds.
“I interview every one of them prior to the start of the program to get a sense of their journey of faith and what things would be most interesting and helpful to them,” he said. “It is exciting to see their faith become enlivened, and it is especially wonderful when some of them become involved in Campus Ministry following their Confirmation.”
After taking Fr. Szakaly’s class last year, Botond Rice ’25 has spent this semester leading Mass as a student minister. The pandemic inspired the Chatham, New Jersey, native to get confirmed and join the Campus Ministry team.
“When COVID hit, I had a lot of time to myself,” he said. “I found myself feeling lost. I wanted to fill that void. Praying and becoming closer to God helped me do that.”
As is tradition when one is confirmed, Rice had to adopt the name of a saint with whom he closely identifies. He picked the name Cosmas after one of the patron saints of the medical profession.
Thinking back on the experience of being confirmed at Stonehill, Rice expresses difficulty in pointing to one specific element of the program that he appreciated the most.
“To be honest, I liked all of it,” he said. “I enjoyed everything from talking about the power of praying to discussing the Gospels. The great thing about the class is that there’s always something new to learn. People have practiced Catholicism for thousands of years. You can never really know everything, so it’s fun to dig in and explore new areas you’re not familiar with.”