.- Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican's highest court, described the beauty of receiving two young Americans in Rome into the Catholic Church.
“Today we are privileged to witness in a most beautiful manifestation the work of God’s grace flowing from the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus through the mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” said Cardinal Burke in his homily March 28.
Jonathan Wasserman, 19, from Kansas City, Missouri, and 19-year-old Kristina Landry from Ellington, Connecticut, are both students at Thomas More College in New Hampshire. As part of their four-year liberal arts course they have been studying in Rome for the past three months.
On March 28, within the historic surrounding of the Vatican’s Church of Saint Anne, both were received into the Church by Cardinal Burke. The former Archbishop of St. Louis is now resident in Rome as the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest court.
“I’m feeling great,” Jonathan told CNA moments afterward. “I feel incredible. It was a dream come true. I’m just glad to have this all. I’m just happy.”
“Yeah, it’s incredible, amazing, awe inspiring,” added Kristina.
Jonathan said he had become a Catholic because “it is the one true Church” and that “to be a Catholic is to have the truth with you,” while Kristina described Catholicism as “how we are meant to praise God.”
The Catholic faith, she noted, “really encompasses everything that is true.”
As part of their reception, Cardinal Burke also administered the Sacrament of Confirmation upon both students, telling them that “As baptism was your personal Easter, so Confirmation will be your personal Pentecost.”
Appropriately – given the papal surrounding – Jonathan took St. Peter as his patron saint while Kristina opted for the 20th century Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska. Both observed how the names reflect the influence that their time in Europe has had upon their conversions.
“Coming to Europe and seeing in Italy and especially in Poland that there’s just so much faith in the people and in the young people, that gives you a lot of hope for future generations,” Kristina said.
Jonathan agreed, adding that he has been inspired by living in Rome “and just being surrounded by beauty all the time.”
The Thomas More College Rome program is a semester long course in humanities, theology and Latin as well as the art and architecture of the Eternal City.
Program director Tony Assaf told CNA that students who participate “become a little extended family during these three intense months together.”
However, “this is the first time we’ve been able to celebrate the 'birthday' of a new brother and sister in Christ into our Catholic family during the course of the program,” he said.
The Gregorian chant which filled the 16th century baroque Church during yesterday’s Mass was provided by Jonathan and Kristina’s fellow students. Towards the conclusion of his homily Cardinal Burke gave the two new Catholics some practical advice on how to best live out their new found faith.
“Keep yourself alive in Christ through frequent reception of Holy Communion and through regular confession,” he told them, “throughout the day deepen Christ’s life within you by your prayers and devotions, especially devotion to the most Blessed Sacrament, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Holy Mother of God and the whole company of saints.”
On an intellectual note, he encouraged them to “never cease to study with fervor the truths of our faith especially as they are set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and never to “give way to discouragement or grow weary in your daily efforts to live those truths in a good and holy life.”