Suvia Yuan had been a member of the John Carroll Society for only a few short months, but she dived head first into its activities. She attended her first Red Mass and Brunch on October 2. The following weekend, she joined the JCS pilgrimage to New York City.
Such passion and initiative are characteristic of the young convert to the Catholic faith who has approached each new phase of life with an open heart and mind.
Yuan was born and raised in Shanghai, China. She first came to the United States as a middle schooler in an exchange program. When it came time for college, she knew she wanted to be in America and settled on the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. It proved a providential decision.
It was at Holy Cross that she became interested in government and politics, an interest that led her to spend a semester in Washington, DC and later, to move here to work in the field for a seafood trade association. And it was at a traveling Holy Cross choir performance at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda that she first met JCS chaplain Msgr. Peter Vaghi, himself an alumnus of Holy Cross.
Msgr. Vaghi made an impression on her. When Yuan, whose parents are Buddhist, returned to Washington after her 2014 graduation from Holy Cross, she decided she wanted to learn more about Catholicism. She turned to the one priest and parish she knew here – Msgr. Vaghi and Little Flower. After about 10 months of instruction in the faith under guidance at the parish, Yuan was baptized, made her First Holy Communion, and was confirmed in March. Shortly after, she joined the Society.
“I was never into religion when I was young,” Yuan said, “but I always wanted to learn. I wanted to look for my religion at Holy Cross and try to understand American culture more and religion plays an important part in American life. The more I study about the Catholic religion, the more I have faith.”
Yuan said the Society and the pilgrimage to New York have helped to “demystify” some aspects of the Catholic faith for her. She was impressed by the lives of Catholic women she learned about on the pilgrimage to New York. In particular, she was happily surprised to learn about the tremendous work in the fields of education and health care to which generations of women religious have dedicated themselves. Moreover, she was impressed that so many women – especially in the Society and the Archdiocese of Washington – hold positions of leadership in the Church.
JCS members have “achieved so much… and they help in any way they can to build a better community,” she said “Like Pope Francis said, it doesn’t matter who you are but as a family we help each other.”