Christendom College began its 27th academic year on August 24, with its tenth record enrollment in as many years. Undergraduate enrollment has grown astonishingly from 140 in 1993 to the current 370.
Among the number of new students are several children of alumni (Monica Briggs, Thomas Hambleton, Clare O’Reilly, and Bryan Scrivener) and approximately 30 siblings of returning students. Also swelling the freshmen ranks are a number who attended last year’s High School Summer Program and are happy to be back in the Shenandoah Valley. The year to come for this promising class and the upperclassmen is full of the enlivening, the edifying, and the inspiring. A few highlights follow.
Last year’s graduation ceremony, which honored Senator Rick Santorum, Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, and the College’s largest-ever graduating class, cast a happy glow that extended even into the beginning of this year. The closing ceremonies of last year and the opening of this were equally joyful. As has been his custom, His Excellency Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, kindly visited the College to celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit and preside over the Christendom faculty’s oath of fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium.
The celebration, festivity and business of opening weekend over, those students on campus began to settle into a routine as classes began on August 26. The group of juniors anticipating departure for the Christendom Semester in Rome Program had to wait another month for the beginning of their academic ventures. There has been a noteworthy change in that program. The College has taken new, more convenient and capacious housing in the Casa la Salle of the Lasallian Christian Brothers. This change will ensure that the enriching semester in Rome is even more pleasant this year.
Near Michaelmas, representatives from over 30 religious orders will journey to Front Royal and participate in the annual Vocations Day. Christendom has helped over 50 men and 35 women answer the call to the priesthood or religious life and joyfully anticipates a continuing contribution to the Lord’s harvest.
The life of prayer and fidelity the College seeks to foster will flower in a college-wide pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Mother Seton Shrine on October 2. The College thus responds eagerly to the Holy Father’s call for special celebrations during this Year of the Rosary. Dr. O’Donnell will lead this and also a pilgrimage to Rome later in the month. That group of pilgrims will be present at the beatification of Mother Teresa on October 19 and at the October 16 ceremonies for the 25th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II and the closing of the Year of the Rosary.
On October 6, Fr. Joseph Koterski, SJ, will launch the 2003-2004 College Major Speakers Program. The year looks very good; other speakers are Dr. John Haas, H.W. Crocker, Dr. Regis Martin, and Peggy Noonan. Although these lectures are primarily for Christendom students and faculty, the public is always cordially invited to attend.
Looking forward to the spring semester one sees Christendom students braving the cold and hecklers to join the March for Life on January 22. For the 28th time the College will cancel classes and charter buses so that the entire student body and faculty and staff may attend the March in Washington, DC.
At Graduation this year, the College plans to honor the President of the March for Life, Miss Nellie Gray, with the Pro Deo et Patria Medal for service to God and Country.
These, with many other endeavors and activities great and small, should keep Christendom students intellectually challenged and spiritually refreshed this year.