One hundred and sixteen religious. That includes 66 priests, 47 sisters, one brother, and two deacons. Not bad for small college that will be celebrating its 35th anniversary this fall. This summer alone saw the ordination of three priests. With an average of almost two priests a year since its founding and 16 alumni currently in the seminary, the College is doing its part to fight the Church’s vocation crisis.
“My experience at Christendom was intensely formative for me in my journey to the priesthood,” Fr. Fred Gruber says. A 2006 graduate, Fr. Gruber was ordained in June for the Diocese of
Pittsburgh. Fr. Gruber says that, at Christendom, through his friendships, his involvement in various apostolates, and his studies, he discovered more clearly his calling toward the diocesan priesthood.
“Christendom taught me ‘to think with the Church’ and to love the Church,” he says. “As Georges Bernanos once wrote, ‘Joy is in the gift of the Church, the only joy possible for this sad world to share.’ Christendom taught me to discover that joy and to recognize the power of the Risen Christ at work in the Church today.”
The College’s beautiful liturgies also aided Fr. Gruber, who says his love for the Church’s liturgy developed through his experience at Christendom. There, he learned how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and had great experiences of the beauty of the liturgy as he participated as a server and lector at the community Mass.
Fr. Gruber also cites his experiences with the student organizations Legion of Mary and Shield of Roses as life-changing. “They gave me a vivid sense of the need to evangelize and opened my eyes to the need for the pro-life apostolate and taught me the value of persevering prayer,” he says.
During his seminary days in Rome, Fr. Gruber remained active in the Legion of Mary, encountering and evangelizing pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. Fr. Gruber is currently on assignment in his diocese, but will soon return to Rome to finish his License in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Faculty Marianum in Rome.
Fr. Fadi Auro, from the class of 2003, was also ordained in May for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Similarly, he had an experience at Christendom that changed his relationship with God.
“I will always be grateful to Christendom for igniting in me the fire of love for our Lord, and for His Church,” Fr. Auro says. “As I learned to seek and love Truth—both natural and supernatural—I was surrounded by mentors and friends—lifelong friends—who encouraged me to embrace the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. Needless to say, the spiritual and liturgical discipline fostered by the College was indispensable to my formation.”
Fr. Auro says that he is most grateful to Christendom for giving him “the experience of a true Catholic culture.”
“That is a rare thing in the modern world,” he says. “The Blessed John Paul II once said that ‘faith which has not become culture, is not fully thought through, not fully received, and not faithfully lived out.’ Much of my work as a priest, I think, will entail cultivating the soil so that the supernatural seed of faith may be received in the hearts of Christ’s faithful. Christendom gave me a glimpse at the end—now it’s a matter of employing the means to reach it.”
Fr. Auro has been assigned the Associate Pastor of Ascension Catholic Church in Chesterfield, MO, in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, where he hopes to nourish souls in the “soil of a true Catholic culture.”
Fr. Auro and Fr. Gurber are Christendom priests—priests that have received Christendom’s liberal arts education, making them well-rounded individuals who love the Church and the Holy Father. They are faithful priests who understand what Catholic culture is and are seeking to “restore all things in Christ.”
“In a word,” Fr. Gruber says. “At Christendom, I came to encounter Christ. And that has made all the difference in my journey to the priesthood.”