After Nigel Newby was received into the Catholic Church June 13 at St. Anthony Parish in North Beach, Maryland, he said he feels like a different person.

“Believe it or not, I feel more grounded. I have always felt fully Catholic, but now that I am, I feel it even more,” he said. “When I received the Eucharist for the first time, it felt like something inside of me lit on fire.”

Newby, who graduated this year from DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, credits his education at the Trinitarian-sponsored school for his conversion to Catholicism. In an earlier interview with the Catholic Standard, he said that the example of a Little League football coach who was a graduate of DeMatha and the theology classes he took there convinced him that the Catholic faith was right for him.

“It is all due to my theology class. I didn’t have the answers to the philosophical questions I had until I took that class,” he said at the time. 

Newby, wearing a face mask as a safety precaution against COVID-19, prays during the June 13 Mass at St. Anthony Church in North Beach, Maryland. (CS photo/Andrew Biraj)

During his junior year at DeMatha, Newby began preparations to convert to Catholicism. In the fall of his senior year, he officially began preparing to enter the Church and was scheduled to be confirmed and receive his First Communion at this past Easter Vigil. His reception into the Catholic Church was delayed for two months, because safety precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including limits on the sizes of gatherings, caused public Masses in the Archdiocese of Washington to be suspended from mid-March until recently, as jurisdictions eased their restrictions.

As he waited to become a full member of the Church, Newby spent some of his time volunteering at a pro-life crisis pregnancy center. He said the delay was worth enduring, and on June 13, Newby – who was already a baptized Christian – received his First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Homer Twigg, Newby’s theology teacher from DeMatha who helped inspire his faith journey, served as his Confirmation sponsor at the Mass.

Homer Twigg, Newby's Confirmation sponsor and his former theology teacher at DeMatha, stands with him as he is about to receive the sacrament at the June 13 Mass at St. Anthony in North Beach. In the photo below, Newby receives his First Communion from Deacon John White Jr. (CS photos/Andrew Biraj)

“It was a really special, special night and a profound experience,” Newby said of the Mass where he and his fellow converts were received into the Church. “Seeing all my (RCIA) classmates have the same experience made it special with so much love and joy.”

Because of social distancing measures still in effect, only family and friends could attend the Mass. Among those who attended were several DeMatha teachers, Newby’s sister and his mother, whose return to the faith was inspired by her son’s own faith journey.

“I wish the whole parish could have been there,” he said, “but I was thinking a lot about the people I have met along the way and how special it was to receive the Eucharist.”

Newby will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall where he will pursue a double major in physics and economics. He said among the reasons he chose that Ivy League school in Philadelphia is “they have a really good Catholic community on campus, and I definitely plan on getting involved in that community.”

Newby says that now that he has been received into the Church, he will “just continue down this path and help people I meet find Christ like I did. I want to be a beacon of God’s light in this world.”

Nigel Newby, center, prays during the June 13 Mass at St. Anthony in North Beach, where he became a member of the Catholic Church after receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and Communion. At left is his mother, Angela Newby, and at right is his Confirmation sponsor and former DeMatha teacher, Homer Twigg. In the photo below, Nigel Newby poses with his mother and with his former teacher after the Mass. (CS photos/Andrew Biraj)

For others who are on faith journeys similar to Newby’s, he offers this advice; “Look for people who are Catholic, befriend them and look at them and how they live their lives and see how special and different and full of joy it is.”