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After his high school helped inspire teacher to become Catholic, he hopes to be a role model in faith for his students

Ricky Mills, who teaches Spanish classes to students at his alma mater, Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland, will become Catholic at the Easter Vigil at St. Joseph Church in Largo on March 30. This photo shows him during a visit to Toledo, Spain. (Courtesy photo)

At the Easter Vigil on March 30, 2024 in churches across The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, about 1,350 people will enter into full Communion with the Catholic Church, including the elect, those who have not been baptized and are preparing to receive at Easter all three of the Catholic Church’s sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Also becoming full members of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil will be candidates, those who have already been baptized in the Catholic faith or who have been baptized in another Christian faith and who are preparing to receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Some people preparing to become full members of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in the archdiocese share the stories of their journeys of faith in this Lenten series of articles.)

Ricky Mills’ initial inspiration to become Catholic happened when he was a student at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland, where he graduated in 2016. After graduating from the University of Maryland at College Park in 2021, where he studied world languages, concentrating in Spanish, and earned a bachelor of arts degree in secondary education, he later returned to Bishop McNamara to teach Spanish classes to students there.

“Growing up, I went to a Methodist church and was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit at the church we attended. I was not very religious, but I was incredibly spiritual,” Mills said in an email interview, adding, “I did not enjoy going to church because it didn’t feel fulfilling, however, I always communicated with God about my day -to-day life and thanked God for the people and events that were placed (or) occurred in my life. While in high school, I learned a lot about Catholicism, having taken theology classes and attending Mass monthly, and thought to convert, but never actively sought out ways to begin the conversion process until recently.”

Mills – who is participating in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program at St. Joseph Parish in Largo, Maryland, in preparation for receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist as a new Catholic at the Easter Vigil – explained what spurred his decision to convert.

“I met someone who is very important to me while in college that shared my major and occupation after graduating, and we got closer after we both graduated. We began hanging out a lot and attended Mass together from time to time. I enjoyed the time I spent with her and the time I spent reconnecting with God on a religious level versus my usual only spiritual (level),” Mills said. “Because of this influence, I asked about the process for conversion and she, along with Father Robert Boxie (now the Catholic chaplain at Howard University), guided me to St. Joseph’s Parish in Largo to begin the process. While completing the readings for the RCIA process, along with my sponsors Carmen and Derrick Wilson, I felt supported enough to continue the process.”

Asked how his journey of faith has changed him, Mills said, “I am excited to become Catholic and grow closer to God by receiving the sacraments. I have always been spiritual, often talking with God and thanking him for my achievements and for being with me in times of trial and tribulation.”

Mills, who teaches Honors Spanish II, Spanish II, Honors Spanish III and Spanish III to students at his alma mater, Bishop McNamara High School, also reflected on his hopes for the future after he becomes Catholic at the Easter Vigil. 

“I hope to continue furthering my relationship with God, participating in community service, receiving the sacraments, and lastly, acting as a role model for the students that I teach and will teach in the future,” he said.