On a beautiful August day in the Shenandoah Valley, twelve men and women joined the ranks of the alumni of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College (NDGS).
After completing all required coursework, and passing both the written and oral comprehensive examinations, the graduate school students received their Master of Arts in Theological Studies on August 3 in the Chapel of Christ the King on Christendom’s Front Royal, VA campus.
Celebrating the Baccalaureate Mass prior to graduation was Rev. William Saunders, Dean of NDGS. In his homily, he expressed to the graduates the need to be thankful for the education that they received while attending NDGS. He explained that their “diploma was not to hang on a wall, rather, the proof of [their] education should be seen by the way [they] live.” The authentic Catholic education in the Faith is a gift to be cherished, he said. “You will run into many people, many of whom are Catholic, who will need to be taught the truth. It is inevitable that you will come in contact with other Catholics who say, ‘I’m Catholic, but……I don’t believe in this or that teaching of the Church.’ You will need to stand out as a beacon of Truth to all whom you come in contact.”
Rev. Saunders, after Dr. Timothy T. O’Donnell, President of Christendom College, officially opened Commencement Exercises, conferred the Master of Arts degrees on the students. Those present to receive the degree were: Sr. Agnes Cousins, SSCJ, Michael Cuddy, Joseph Dasso, Sarah Dateno, Sr. Teresa Diaz, PCI, Avelino Gonzalez, Paulita Gonzalez, and Sr. Laura Nieves, PCI. Those receiving the M.A. but not present were Terelyn Borel, Julie Desmond, Eleanor Cummings, and Sr. Joseph Mary O’Brien.
In addition to receiving the M.A., Julie Desmond and Sr. Joseph Mary received the Advanced Apostolic Catechetical Diploma, as well as Sr. Agnes Cousins who also delivered the NDGS Farewell Address to her fellow graduates and their families.
Her address focused on the different aspects of living the documents of Vatican II. According to Sr. Agnes, the documents are not just written statements to read. Rather they are to be lived. “Human perfection is a living thing; rooted in an enlightened reason…This faith of our must be so living and certain that we are willing even to suffer martyrdom for it.” She continued by stating that it is only through Christ that we can have access to the Father and that through His Revelation, “men and women are offered the ultimate truth about their own lives and about the goal of history.”
“The Gospel reminds us that without Christ we can do nothing. With Christ, we can go forth to proclaim Him to the world – to do that with our words, but also with our lived faith, witnessing in our obedience, witnessing in our trust,” she concluded.
After Graduation, the students and their families joined the NDGS faculty for a luncheon, catered by Christendom Chef Ron Steckman and his staff.
Christendom’s NDGS is the result of a 1997 merger between the Notre Dame Institute and Christendom College. NDGS offers a Master of Arts degree in Theological Studies with concentrations in Catechetics, Spirituality, Systematic Theology, and Sacred Scripture. Courses are offered to commuter students in the fall, spring, and summer at the Alexandria, VA campus, and in the summer to residential students for a six-week period at the Front Royal, VA campus.