Christendom College celebrated its commencement weekend on May 15-17, awarding a record one hundred and two bachelor of arts degrees to graduating seniors, as well as honoring Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand and the Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington. Bishop Loverde celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass and received an honorary doctorate from the college during the commencement ceremonies. Dr. Von Hildebrand was awarded Christendom’s St. Catherine of Siena Award before delivering the commencement address.
Von Hildebrand delivered an inspirational address to the graduates, drawing upon Scripture and her own studies on feminism to give deep insights into the true dignity of women. Turning to both the book of Genesis and to the Incarnation, Von Hildebrand provided sharp contrasts to the horrors of abortion and the rejection of maternity by the world today, imploring the senior class to fight these trends in society.
“What is it that is so incredibly important about women today? The answer is very simple: the vicious attacks made by feminists on the beauty and dignity of being a women, and the incredible mission that women have in this world today,” Von Hildebrand said.
“Keep in mind that we are at a crossroad. Today, the mission of women is to become conscious of their beauty and the dignity of their function. My husband always said to me, it is crucial to diagnose a time in particularly, and I say today, until women rediscover the beauty of their mission and stand for life, the world is doomed.”
Bishop Loverde delivered a powerful homily to the graduates and their families at the Baccalaureate Mass, encouraging them to look back on their four years at Christendom with gratitude, and to look ahead to the future with hope.
At the commencement exercises, Christendom College president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell bestowed an honorary doctorate in humane letters on Bishop Loverde. Bishop Loverde thanked the college for the countless blessings it has brought the Diocese of Arlington during his sixteen years as bishop.
“I consider myself the most blessed bishop in the world. Why? This diocese is not only home to one of the fastest growing flocks in the United States, but we are also home to one of the finest Catholic colleges in the entire country and beyond, here,” he began.
“To have a college so intently be pursuing truth, beauty and goodness and that upholds the teachings of the Magisterium is a gift too uncommon in this day…I share pride in Christendom’s continuing growth, and at looking out at the largest ever graduating class in its history. As I accept the honor of this degree, I repeat what you already know: the most priceless thing you bring from this campus is your relationship with Christ within His Church. Drink deeply of His love and joy. As you go forth, to restore all things in Christ, know that the Lord is with you always,” Bishop Loverde said.
Saturday’s ceremonies began with a bagpipe-led procession from Christ the King Chapel to St. Louis the Crusader Gymnasium, where over a thousand guests joined the Christendom community in celebrating the achievements of Christendom’s 36th graduating class.
Salutatorian Melody Wood of Auburn, Ca., welcomed all the attendees to the Commencement ceremonies, noting in her address that, despite their time at Christendom coming to a close, the class of 2015 should rejoice in the knowledge that they truly learned what is good in life during their college careers.
“As we venture forth into the world — whether our futures seem clear or murky — we will take with us from our time here an understanding of what is good in life. Only with this knowledge of the good will we be able to properly identify and appreciate the good in the world, whether in times of joy or sorrow. As graduates seeking to restore all things in Christ…we have learned to recognize and seek the good in each encounter with another person, in each blessing, and even in times of adversity. I entreat each of you: never lose your desire to pursue the good in your own life,” Wood said.
Assistant director of donor and alumni relations Vince Criste presented the Student Achievement Award to Peter Foeckler of Manassas, Va., for his dedication to the community. Foeckler made great contributions to the academic and social life of the college as the campus’s head male resident assistant, a member of the student activities council, and as a member of the varsity soccer and rugby teams.
Following the presentation of awards to Dr. Von Hildebrand and Bishop Loverde, valedictorian Michael Kopp of Johnstown, Pa., delivered his address. Kopp related the weekend’s events to Christ’s farewell at the Ascension, and his promise to the disciples that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit to become witnesses in the world to the Truth.
“As we leave Christendom, and our time here comes to its end, I believe that Christ makes this same farewell to us. While we have been here at college, we have received the tools which will enable us to more fully grasp the guidance of the Holy Spirit that follows on the charism of our Baptism and Confirmation. Thus, as we graduate, Christ calls us to be witnesses to His Spirit to the world. As we start our new lives as businessmen, doctors, engineers, teachers, priests and religious, or whatever field we may enter, we must let the wonder and enthusiasm for truth and beauty that we have developed here be a light to the world. We stand as witnesses to the love and glory of Christ,” Kopp said.
Closing the ceremony, college president O’Donnell delivered his charge to the graduates.
“You know that time will end. You know that mysterious longing in this life in the midst of all of the vicissitudes of life is beckoning you to that ultimate transcendent reality which the world seeks to obscure, to hide and ignore…may you always keep, through that fruitful union of faith and reason which you have received here at your alma mater, a deep and abiding sense of God and the eternal which He has planted in your heart, which gives you meaning and purpose. May your hearts be continually touched by that sense of the eternal, so that in your mission ‘to restore all things in Christ’ you will order your temporal works rightly that they will in fact carry over into eternity and enter with you into the eternal Kingdom of God,” O’Donnell said.
One hundred and two bachelor of arts degrees were awarded to Susanne Adams, Luis Adan, Katherine Arnold, Mary Barbale, Joseph Bond, Maria Bonvissuto, Emily Bot, Katherine Brizek, Evan Casey, Gabrielle Cintorino, James Ciskanik, Alex Clark, Teresa Cory, Robert Crnkovich, Antonia Cummings, Rocina Daez, Micah Davis, Kimberly Day, Noah De La Cruz, Peter Deucher, Catherine Devanny, Maryann Doughty, Clare Duda, Elizabeth Easterday, John Federline, Marissa Feiring, Nancy Feuerborn, Peter Foeckler, James Fox, Midori Funai, Emilia Fusco, Kevin Galbraith, Justin Gilbert, Philip Gilbert, Joseph Gonzalez, Kelsey Gordon, Nicholas Gossin, Mary Gurtowski, Rosemary Hedge, Michael Heffernan, Andrew Hepler, Rose Herlihy, Joseph Herman, Ann Hess, Stephen Hyland, John Jackson, Sarah Jamieson, Darren Johnson, Margaret Killackey, Brigid King, Hal Kokes Jr., Michael Kopp, Claire Kosten, Mary La Fave, Matthew Marchand, Matthew Marcolini, Noah Matzen, Thomas Maurer, Daniel McDowell, Patrick McKenna, Julie McMahon, Stephen Menard, Julie Mersch, Andre Moreau, Gabrielle Muskett, Rebecca Neltner, Timothy Nodar, Sarah Nutter, Grace O’Reilly, Maggie Ostrowski, Leif Pilegaard, Karolyn Pondo, Brian Rankin, Jane Riccardi, Galilee Riggio, Amelia Ritzenthaler, Peter Romanchuk, Bernadette Sartor, Jessica Schmitz, Maggie Schuberg, Catherine Scotto, Joshua Scotto, Elizabeth Slaten, David Smith, Stephen Snyder, Roseanne Spiering, Veronica Stanton, Peter Stephens, Lindsay Trapp, Stephen Treacy, Katherine Turner, Mark Turner, Joshua Van Hecke, Joseph Walsh, Julie Wells, Adrienne Willard, Rebecca Willen, Jessie Williams, Alexis Witiak, Melody Wood, Laura Wynne, and Thomas Yarnell.