Seventeen Toreros Prepare for Sacrament Celebrations

Seventeen Toreros Prepare for Sacrament Celebrations

College is considered a prime place and time for young men and women to gain not only an academic education, but also education about life, to learn about themselves, explore the world, connect with a diverse and inclusive community and to take full responsibility for the decisions they make. For 17 individuals at the University of San Diego, one exercise in particular that encompasses everything college can offer and something that this private Catholic university can uniquely facilitate, is about to happen.

On consecutive Sundays, April 28 and May 5 at Founders Chapel, 17 people are readying themselves to experience a true, personal transformation.

For six people on April 28 and for 11 more on May 5, these days will be the culmination of their decision to express a deeper devotion to their faith as well as the beginning of a strong commitment to their relationship with God.

Kaia Hubbard, Courtney Ochi, Mika Unebasami, Monique Lopez, Allison Bennett and Julia Somera will attend Mass April 28 to receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation. Hubbard and Ochi will be baptized, be confirmed and will receive the Eucharist. The other four will be confirmed and receive the Eucharist.

On May 5, the 11 going through the Sacrament of Confirmation are Travis Loranger, Daniel J. Acevedo, Rachel Shellstrom, Christopher Colandene II, Anthony Mejia, Chinazom Enenwali, Clayton Cervantes, Alfraib Ibarra, Christopher Andrada, Bethany Bellay and Gloria Sandoval.

For all 17 individuals, these special Mass moments are months in the making. All 17 have attended a 90-minute Sunday class with University Chaplain, Father Robert Capone, on the USD campus prior to attending Sunday night Mass in Founders Chapel.

Those participating in the April 28 Mass have been preparing for the sacraments since September. They are in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program, which enables an individual to grow in faith while becoming a full member of the Catholic Church. At Sunday's Mass, the six individuals will be accompanied by a godparent or sponsor during the ceremony.

Those receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation May 5 have taken the Sunday class since the start of the spring semester. These individuals are active in their faith but the confirmation process strengthens their commitment to the church and leads to a deeper relationship with God. Students are asked to pick a saint that speaks to the same traits they embrace or admire and it helps them learn more about them.

For Fr. Capone, a USD alumnus with nearly 20 years of facilitating the sacramental process for both parishioners prior to his arrival at USD and now for the university's students, being a part of it all is truly rewarding.

“It’s transformational,” he said. “Here at USD what I like is the intellectual curiosity of our students and watching them grow in their faith.”

Students Reflect

Four students — RCIA’s Hubbard and Somera and the Confirmation Faith Formation program’s Colandene and Cervantes — each shared a bit about how they got on their respective faith pathway and what their respective spotlight at Mass will mean to them.

Hubbard, a junior psychology and English double major, an associate editor for The USD Vista school newspaper and who works in the Writing Center, attended a Catholic high school in Portland, Ore., but the decision to do the RCIA program at USD grew through her earlier USD student experiences.

"I wasn't super involved my first year, but I did a few retreats, I was in a women's group and I thought more about it. Sophomore year I got more involved with University Ministry and went to Mass regularly. This year I've been a leader of the women's group, I’ve worked with Aly Monteleone (a USD University Minister) and when I got into the RCIA program I just felt the time was right," Hubbard said.

Somera, meanwhile, is a first-year USD student and her decision to join the RCIA program came very quickly. "During the Ole Weekend Orientation Mass, I really enjoyed it; it touched me and motivated me to explore my relationship with God. I attended the first Sunday night Mass and that’s when I heard about the RCIA program and I immediately contacted Father Robert. I met with him and he was very supportive and reassuring."

For Colandene and Cervantes, both sophomores, preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation is a rekindling of their faith upbringing, a return to regularly attending church, being in community with others who are inspired by their faith and seeking a dedication to a relationship with God that brings out the best in them and to serve others.

Colandene, an engineering major and in the NROTC program, has embraced his return to making faith a big part of his daily routine. The Sunday class, attending mass both on Sundays and the Mass for Peace on Wednesday nights have "re-ignited his desire" to turn to his faith to fulfill him in multiple aspects. "It helps to re-center myself."

Cervantes' attendance at Mass was further strengthen when he joined USD's club rugby team and had some teammates there. Championing his faith serves to help him connect to God and to put him at peace too, whether it's at Mass or just taking a few minutes to meditate, pray and embrace the silence.

As for the feelings that these students will have on their respective Sunday, all are eager for the day’s arrival.

“In a way I’ve felt like I’m a part of this community for a long time, but this is the next step to solidify it,” Hubbard said.  “At first, I didn’t understand the need to make such a public display of my commitment, but now I see all of the relationships that are there, the love and care and community aspects are there. Let’s make it official.”

Somera, whose parents and grandparents are here from Northern California for Sunday’s proceedings, said she’s “excited to become a ‘full’ member of the USD community,” and is grateful for all of the people who’ve helped and supported her on this journey.

Cervantes stated that he’s ready to take his commitment to a permanent level. “Being confirmed, to me, means that on May 5 it’s going to be the first day when I’m fully committed to live my life a certain way.”

Said Colandene: “I’ve been thinking about this day and what it’s going to feel like. I’ve reached out to family and friends to say I really want you to be there because it means a lot to me. … To me it’s that personal growth in your faith, your relationships, everything about you. It's not just confirming yourself to the Catholic faith, it's looking at yourself and saying, ‘Hey, this is who I am, this is who I want to be, and this is what I'm going to carry on with for the rest of my life.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

To learn more about University Ministry’s Sacramental preparation programs, faith formation and spiritual growth resources, visit the UM website and contact Father Robert Capone at (619) 260-7419 or by email,

File Photo courtesy of University Ministry

University Ministry offers the USD community resources to support individuals' desire for sacrament preparations, faith formation and spiritual growth.University Ministry offers the USD community resources to support individuals' desire for sacrament preparations, faith formation and spiritual growth.

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