Diocesan News

A Couple Spreads The Faith That Sustains Their Love Into Classrooms

Andrea Pinnavaia is a campus minister at St. John’s University, whose basketball team plays at Madison Square Garden. Her husband Colin works at St. Edmund’s Prep. (Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Pinnavaia)

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — When Andrea Pinnavaia joined her church choir in high school, she had no idea she would be singing alongside her future husband. 

But it was a possibility; they lived just about 15 blocks away from each other, and their families were parishioners at Good Shepherd Church in Sheepshead Bay. Undoubtedly, at one point or another, their parents had sat next to one another in the pews. 

Now, after more than two decades of loving each other, Andrea and Colin Pinnavaia look back at that memory and laugh. With a deep devotion to God as the foundation of their relationship, the couple have built a way to spread their faith by dedicating their lives to Catholic education. 

Andrea serves as a campus minister and an adjunct professor of theology at St. John’s University, while Colin is the director of communications and computer science teacher at St. Edmund Preparatory High School. At both places, the couple works to change the lives of the younger generation, uplifting their students like their Catholic teachers did for them. 

“Our values just lined up and we wanted the same things out of life. I think everything else kind of just followed and we just enjoy being together. Colin became my best friend really quickly,” Andrea said. 

Despite meeting as teenagers, Andrea and Colin did not begin dating until 2003, when they were both attending St. John’s University. Colin was two years ahead of her, and when Andrea joined him at the Queens campus for her freshman year, they quickly became close. With similar upbringings in Marine Park, they realized they shared values, along with a love for the New York Rangers and the Dave Matthews Band. 

Andrea and Colin Pinnavaia on the St. John’s University campus for their wedding photos. (Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Pinnavaia)

One of their first dates, Colin remembered fondly, was to a Rangers game, where she bought him the best seats he’d ever had. 

The rest was history; after dating for six years and a two-year engagement, the couple was married in 2011. 

“We were two people who were on the same page about life and about a lot of things in supporting each other, which I think is such a strength with our relationship now,” Andrea said. “We’re both supportive of our commitments to other things that we do in our work, like in our volunteering.” 

Andrea joined campus ministry at St. John’s after she completed her master’s degree in 2008, and now runs the OCIA program (formerly RCIA) at the college alongside her liturgical and teaching duties. This year, they had 19 students receive their final sacraments to join the faith. 

“God puts people in opportunities to show you, to guide you. Just respond to them because there’s a beautiful life waiting for you,” Andrea said. “I think that’s a really similar story to our relationship — one opportunity after another to get closer and form a deeper relationship.” 

To Colin, his job is more than teaching kids about coding. He graduated from St. John’s University with a degree in computer science and admits he could have been making “six times as much” if he got a job within the technology industry after graduation. 

But it was the calling to teach that drove him to apply at St. Edmund’s, and he is approaching 20 years with the Sheepshead Bay school. He wants to ensure the students feel supported in their faith, as he did when he attended Xaverian High School. 

“I have never thought about any other classroom other than in a Catholic school,” he said. “There’s something about being in a faith-based environment, particularly the Catholic school environment, that allows me to be me and be authentically me.” 

Beyond teaching, Colin and Andrea share a love for scouting, as he holds the rank of Eagle Scout, and she is a Gold Award recipient for Girl Scouts. They volunteered together at the Boy Scout Summer Camp in upstate New York, and their 6-year-old son Dominic — named after the saint and founder of the Dominican Order — is a Cub Scout. 

“It’s really been a life-changing experience for me and for our families, what scouting offers and how it does dovetail back into our faith,” Colin said. 

Dominic attends Good Shepherd Catholic Academy, further cementing Catholic education’s predominant role in the lives of the Pinnavaia family. 

He’s been at the school since he was 3 years old, and as his first grade year comes to a close, his parents see the positive impact it has had on him. He comes home with questions about faith and God, they said, and is learning how to pray the rosary now. 

The Pinnavaia family still spends every Sunday at church, coming back to where they first met to bring up their son in the faith that brought them together. 

“It’s really beautiful that there’s that full connection, to reinforce the life of faith that we try to give him at home,” Andrea said. “It’s just all cohesive. For us, it was the best decision we could have made.”