Pandemic Provides Former Student-Athlete Opportunity for RCIA and Connection to Her Grandmother

Author standing in Dahlgren Chapel Her father standing on her left Her uncle standing on her right

Erin Nebbia (center) with her father, Stephan Nebbia (left) and her uncle and sponsor, Thomas Nebbia (right).

While COVID-19 brought many terrible things, there was a silver lining for me. The pandemic provided me the time and opportunity that I had been waiting for to be able to go through the RCIA (The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process. 

Because I was a college athlete, I unfortunately never had the time necessary to commit to the program. I chose to participate in the RCIA process this year because being confirmed in the Catholic Church is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. 

Another important reason that confirmation was so important to me is because of my grandmother, Joan Ann Nebbia-Wagner (pictured below). I chose my confirmation name after her because I know religion and faith were always something that guided her and was really important to her. She was always kind and loving but also strong and determined. I’ve always looked up to her. She was a big influence on my family’s lives. 

My grandmother had two sons, my dad and my uncle. She always did her best for them and for all of us, even though she didn’t always have a lot to give. She always worked hard and cared for others. In particular, when my uncle was younger, he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma of the brain. No doctor in the New Jersey region would even attempt to perform surgery because they did not think he would survive. My grandmother was always very determined, and she never gave up on fighting for her family. She was a single mother and a registered nurse. She spent every dollar she had researching and traveling to find a doctor that would consider performing the surgery on her son. 

Grandmother sitting on a bench Her son standing behind her on her right Her other son seated on the bench beside her on the left

Joan Ann Nebbia-Wagner pictured with her sons, Thomas (left) and Stephan (right).

Because of her efforts and her faith, my uncle is here today. Because of her, my sister and I had the opportunity to grow up with both her and my uncle in our lives. Because of my grandmother, Joan, my uncle was able to participate in my confirmation ceremony as my sponsor. 

I believe the RCIA process brought me closer to my grandmother even though she is no longer with us. I am really grateful to everyone at Georgetown University who guided me and supported me through this process, especially my peers, my family, and Michelle Siemietkowski, the Catholic chaplain for spiritual formation.

by Erin Nebbia. Erin is a second-year law student at the Georgetown University Law Center.