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Catholic interest group begins at NVCC in Annandale

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In a classroom at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Father John C. Cregan transformed a place of learning to a place of worship as he celebrated Mass Ash Wednesday Feb. 14. 

Father Cregan began his homily by commending the group for getting the initiative going. 

“I think it’s a great thing to remember as we begin Lent here, at the end of the story, Jesus sent just 11 out and He changed the whole world,” said Father Cregan. “You can have a great impact. One way we draw other people is through joy.” 

The Mass is the first celebrated on campus in years as part of an effort to begin a Catholic interest group supported by the Office of Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministries, according to Kevin Bohli, executive director. 

With no Catholic community at NVCC, students such as sophomore Lisbeth Valladares got involved with the campus ministry at nearby George Mason University. 

A month ago, Valladares started working on a Catholic interest group at NVCC. She communicated with Annandale’s Office of Student Life and collected the required five student signatures to start an interest group.

Valladares said the Mass gives students the opportunity to know there now is a Catholic community presence on campus. “Being a student and walking around with the ashes on my forehead also will allow me to witness to them in a simple chat,” she said. Although she enjoyed her involvement with GMU’s campus ministry, she hoped something would be offered on her campus. 

After six months, if there is enough interest, Valladares can gather more signatures and apply to be a registered club.

Deacon David Conroy, a mathematics professor at NVCC, described the school as the community’s campus. 

“I think it’s essential for the young people to have the presence of Our Lord here, to gain confidence and strength in this mutual dynamic,” he said. “The spiritual dimension is really important. I’m delighted the (Office of Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministries) is coordinating this and happy the youths are pitching in and making it happen. I hope the support continues.”

Valladares believes having access to a Catholic organization during college years is important. “My life was changed through campus ministry,” she said. “It was through the people that God placed in my life during my freshman year in college that I have been shaped to be the lady I am now. During college years, we are constantly making life-changing decisions, and all those decisions can be easier when we truly know our identity in Christ.”  

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018