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New England Sophomore Enters
Fully into Life of the Church

Posted: October 28, 2020

Students, tutors, and their family members gathered in Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel on the campus of Thomas Aquinas College New England, on Sunday for a joyous occasion: Sophomore Benjamin Domnarski made his First Holy Communion and received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Born and raised only an hour away in Palmer, Massachusetts, Ben received little catechesis as a boy. Although baptized, he attended Mass only a handful of times and never understood the significance of what he saw at the Catholic liturgy. By the time he was a teenager, he was living what he describes as an agnostic lifestyle. Nearing the end of high school, he seriously considered a career in graphic design and attending art school. But then tragedy upended his plans. 

In July of 2019, Ben’s mother experienced a serious fall while working in the family’s barn,  passing away shortly after. “It was totally unexpected; it was out of left field,” Ben recalls. “And it was at a time in my life when you’re at this major juncture between adult and child,” What held him together through this period of suffering was prayer. Prompted by this great loss to search more earnestly for God, Ben told his family, while still at the hospital, that he intended to look more seriously into the Catholic faith. 

A few days later, at Mrs. Domnarski’s wake, a family friend recommended that Ben have dinner with a priest in neighboring Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Ben expressed interest and soon found himself at the home of Rev. Charles DiMascola, pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish and a friend of the College. During their conversation, Fr. DiMascola mentioned a newly arrived liberal-arts school, almost in their backyard, which was weeks away from opening its doors to students on the East Coast. That same evening, the two drove to Northfield to take a look.

Less than a month later Ben was enrolled and beginning his freshman year at Thomas Aquinas College, New England. “One of the first thoughts I had,” he recalls, “was, ‘here I go from utter tragedy and despair and chaos … to this whole, beautiful coming together.’” 

For a full year, Ben received regular instruction from College Chaplain Rev. Greg Markey in order to prepare for his Confession, Communion and Confirmation. “Father is such a well-formed and smart, educated priest,” Ben muses. “I couldn’t have asked for anyone better.”

Speaking about the Catholic faith and the beauty and satisfaction he has found in it, Ben reflects: “People are thirsty for these truths now. I look forward to helping to get some souls in here, because there are many people back home … that this could help so much, if only they knew.”