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Church

A Young American College Student Discovers and Embraces Orthodoxy

BOSTON – A young American student at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, NH, Kaitlyn West discovered Orthodoxy and on Sunday October 23, 2022 embraced the Faith at the church of St. Philip in Nashua,  NH.

She was converted from Catholicism, in which she was born and brought up, to Orthodoxy, through the sacrament of Chrismation. Fr. Nicholas Livingston officiated. Her sponsor was her Greek-American college classmate, Ioana Archambault and she assumed the name Katherine.

The sacrament of the Holy Chrism was held during the Divine Liturgy, right after the Great Entrance of the Holy Gifts with the participation of the congregation at St. Philip’s in which her parents were present also.

Katherine (Kaitlyn) West is an intelligent and devout young woman with ethos and love for God and humankind. She studies classics at St. Ansel’s College but there is the possibility she might change to Biology.

Fr. Nicholas Livingston reads the prayer for the Holy Sacrament of Chrismation over Katlyn West. Shown is her sponsor Ioana Archambault. (Photo: “TNH”/Theodore Kalmoukos)

After the Divine Liturgy she spoke to The National Herald and replying to a question on how she felt about the ceremony, she said, “the ceremony was beautiful; it was great to celebrate with my friends and family besides Fr. Nicholas. It was a pleasure to be with him throughout my entire journey and finally be able to come to today’s ceremony. It was something that I was looking forward for a year now.”

Katherine was born and raised in Nashua, where she also attended the public schools, living with her parents and brother.

Prior to her conversion to Orthodoxy Katherine noted, “I was raised in the Catholic Church, I was baptized, I made my first communion and confirmation at the Immaculate Conception here in Nashua.”

Asked how she got to know the Orthodox Church, she said, “I actually worked a little a bit in New Hampshire politics and I had a friend who had become Orthodox. We got talking and he was telling me about the biggest differences between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church and it was nice having those conversations. I guess that was the first thing that led me here.”

Fr. Nicholas Livingston presiding priest at the St. Philip parish in Nashua, NH introduces Katlyn West to the Orthodox Church through the Holy Sacrament of Chrismation. Shown is her sponsor Ioana Archambault. (Photo: “TNH”/Theodore Kalmoukos)

Regarding what attracted her to Orthodoxy once she learned about it, she said, “I think the first thing was obviously the beauty behind everything. I mean, walking into the church, it wasn’t like anything else I had seen before. Just to be able to feel the Grace of God for me was the biggest thing that kept me in the Orthodox Church. The decorations, the icons, the inner atmosphere of the church. All the senses being touched throughout the Service was a big thing for me too, because it wasn’t only hearing the priest speak but you have the sense of smell and touch [that is engaged] Those were the biggest things that kept me here as well.”

She also said, “today, being able to receive Communion for the first time was a beautiful experience – I have been looking [forward to it] the whole week. Just being in Communion with God, it was a great experience for me to have in the church. It is very fulfilling. I felt full of grace and joy, I think I will just leave at that. There isn’t much else to say.”

TNH asked about whether her parents were at the church for the Chrismation and what they are saying and feeling about it. “I was brought up by great parents; they support everything I do. They just wanted me to be happy in my Faith and they know I made the right decision for me and I think they are very proud of what I have become. I had chosen to do this on my own without pushing, and I am very blessed to have that in my life as well.”

A commemorative photo showing Katlyn West between Fr. Nicholas Livingston and her sponsor Ioana Archambault. (Photo: “TNH”/Theodore Kalmoukos)

Katherine told her friends about her conversation, and she told TNH, “I am also very blessed to have a great group of friends at School, St. Anselm College, who are also Orthodox and have come to celebrate with me today.”

Faith means everything to Katherine. She said, “my Faith for me is how I live my life. Every since I was a little girl I always though that there is something bigger to the World. I loved being in the church. I loved to be surrounded by people who went to church with me. I think that is the only way that I feel really fulfilled with my life.”

Asked about how she feels about hearing parts of the Liturgy in Greek and whether she has any problem with that, she said, “actually I started studying ancient Greek over at St. Anselm’s College, that being a great pleasure, and now I am able to follow the Liturgy in the book and I can read some of the Greek – it is definitely a transition for me, but I think it is beautiful. Even though some parts I don’t understand with my ears, I am able to read in English and follow along, which is really a blessing for me.”

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