On May 15, Christendom College conferred 76 Bachelor of Arts and one Associate of Arts degree on its graduating class of 2004. Joining the College for Commencement weekend were Bishop Thomas J. Wesh (ret.) and Miss Nellie Gray.
During the graduation ceremony, Christendom College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell awarded Bishop Thomas Welsh an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, after which His Excellency delivered the Commencement Address.
“Your four years have flown; you are older and have learned a lot. I expect you are a bit scared, and rightly so. But be of good cheer. Of all the young people graduating from college this spring, few are as well prepared as you to test your wings of Faith and Reason,” began Bishop Welsh.
Bishop Welsh was the founding bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, VA, being installed on August 13, 1974. Nine years later, he was selected by the Holy Father to be the Second Bishop of the Diocese of Allentown, PA, on March 21, 1983. During his time in the Diocese of Arlington, Bishop Welsh was very influential in helping Christendom College founder Warren H. Carroll obtain the land on which the current College campus rests.
In his address to the largest graduating class in the College’s history, Bishop Welsh exhorted the students to go out into society and use their knowledge gained at Christendom to influence and affect society; to fill the earth and subdue it.
“You are going into a world that denies the principle of non-contradiction, a world that has cut itself loose from its moorings. A long time ago, Pilate asked, ‘Truth, what is truth?’ Recently Justice Anthony Kennedy has answered equivalently, ‘Whatever you want it to be.’ We have killed so many millions of babies and contracepted so many, many more. Western civilization is now seemingly made up of old people busy at pet stores, celebrating earth day. We uproot babies and plant trees,” he stated. “The world celebrates Earth Day. Let your ‘earth’ days begin with the reflection that God is creator of all things and that we are stewards, to use and not abuse any creature. When people talk about baby whales you talk about real babies! But don’t just talk, get married and have babies, lots of them, and in that order! For the victory over Islam will be won in the bedroom!”
Prior to the Commencement Address, Dr. O’Donnell awarded Miss Nellie Gray, President of the March for life, Christendom’s Pro Deo et Patria Medal for Distinguished Service to God and Country, after which she made some remarks to the graduating class.
“You can be sure that the issues facing Holy Mother Church will be part of your every day conversation – directed to you both as an individual Catholic and as a member of the Catholic community – which will challenge you in your work and career,” she began.
Miss Gray talked to the graduates about her experience in the pro-life movement for the past 32 years. She examined the Papal encyclical Casti Connubii, written in 1930 by Pope Pius XI, which held the principles that embody the culture of life which, in turn, became the founding principles for the March for Life.
“Those who hold the reigns of government should not forget that it is the duty of public authority by appropriate laws and sanctions to defend the lives of the innocent, among whom we must mention in the first place infants hidden in the mother’s womb,” she quoted from the encyclical. “And if the public magistrates not only do not defend them, but by their laws and ordinances betray them to death at the hands of doctors or of others, let them remember that God is the Judge and Avenger of innocent blood which cries from earth to Heaven.”
Michael Powell, from Manassas, Virginia, delivered the Salutatory Address and Andrew Hayes, from Newark, Ohio, delivered the Valedictory Address.
“We were so excited to welcome back to our campus two individuals who have done so much for Catholicism in their different ways,” said Christendom President Timothy T. O’Donnell. “Bishop Welsh has been a supporter of Christendom College since our founding in 1977, in fact, he delivered the commencement address to our first graduating class in 1980. We are so happy that 2 years later he agreed to join us once again for our largest graduation ceremony ever. And without Nellie Gray, where would the pro-life movement be today? We believe that recognition for her work for the unborn is long overdue and we wanted to rectify that by awarding her our Pro Deo et Patria medal.”
The 76 undergraduates who received B.A. degrees were: Julie Abernethy, Glen Aitken, Linda Antunes, Elizabeth Ascik, Francis Avila, Quinn Beekwilder, Maria Brake, Lesly Bratt, Harrison Brehm, Sabatino Carnazzo, Jennifer Coleman, Thomas Cole, Christine Collins, Daniel Corey, Jason Crye, Jennifer Dent, Alexandra Doylend, Jamie Dresch, Michael Eidem, Kevin Fox, Grant Freeman, Bryan Hadro, John Halisky, Andrew Hayes, Elizabeth Hayles, Mary Elizabeth Hendrick, Sarah Hibl, Joshua Kacsir, Heidi Kalian, Anne Kopec, Stephen Kunath, Mary-Rose Lombard, Dominic Luckey, Alistair Maitland, Allana Marchand, Gerard Marrero, Bernadine Martell, Lauren McCool, Benjamin McMahon, Mary Mead, Jill Menke, Kaylie Minick, John O’Brien, Hugh O’Donnell, Veronica Pelster, Marc Perrington, Audra Powderly, Michael Powell, Amy Quartararo, Amy Raab, Maria Reilander, Raymond Robertson, Kathleen Rock, Elizabeth Ross, David Rudmin, Teri Rusnak, Christina Sanderlin, Joseph Sayler, Claire Schafer, Jacinta Scheetz, Donna Schmidt, Ann Schneible, Jeff Sciscilo, Sr. Ana Silva, PCI, Kipp Slocum, Moira Stanton, Shannon Sutherland, Christen Tedrow, Lydia Thigpen, Patricia Thompson, Mary Wathen, Billy Weber, Mary Wise, Eric Wolpert, Mary Wolpert, and Alaina Wozniak.
One Associate of Arts degree was conferred on Anne Fraser.
Additionally, Thomas Cole, from Manassas, VA, was awarded the Student Achievement Award by the president of Christendom College Alumni Association, Matthew Akers ‘03. Cole received the award based on the opinions of his fellow classmates and faculty.