It is often said, “There is no vocation shortage, but rather, a shortage in those who respond to God’s call.” At Christendom College, there is no shortage of those who respond to His call. Approaching its 40th anniversary in September of this year, Christendom College has seen 80 alumni ordained to the priesthood and 50 ladies accept God’s call to the religious life. This summer, two more alumni will be receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders, bringing the total number of alumni priests to 82. These men are in addition to the 6 religious brothers, 4 transitional deacons, 1 permanent deacon, and 21 men currently in seminary – all answering the Lord’s call.
Deacon Peter Ascik is the first of these two to become ordained as an “alter Christus.” A native of Asheville, North Carolina, Deacon Ascik studied at Christendom College, then the Pontifical College Josephinum before completing his studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. This Sunday, his years of hard work will be fulfilled when he is ordained as Christendom’s 81st alumnus priest at St. Lawrence Basilica in Asheville, joining that diocese as its newest diocesan priest.
The 82nd alumnus priest will celebrate his ordination two weeks later, on July 6. Deacon Jon Fehrenbacher, who earned his BA in philosophy from Christendom in 2009, has been studying at the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest since leaving college. Just last year, he moved to Detroit, Michigan, to serve as deacon at the new St. Joseph Oratory, where Canon Michael Stein, another Christendom alumnus, is the rector. Together, they have brought the Extraordinary form of the Mass to the people of Detroit, helping to renew that once great city of America. His long road to ordination will finally come to a close in Florence, Italy, on the 6th, when Deacon Fehrenbacher is ordained to the priesthood by Raymond Cardinal Burke — an incredible privilege.
It is remarkable that these two are following such a legacy of priests, considering that Christendom was founded by laity for the lay apostolate. And yet, it is also not surprising. Thanks to its commitment to the Magisterium, its adherence to the teaching of the liberal arts, its rich sacramental life, and its sound residential policies, Christendom fosters a truly Catholic culture — not simply in name only, like some other Catholic schools. Christendom, instead, seeks to elevate the mind, body, and spirit of its students, giving them ample opportunities for spiritual growth, while also challenging them in the classroom and on the athletic field.
Fr. Philip O’Neill, who was ordained as the college’s 79th alumnus priest last summer, certainly agrees with that sentiment.
“The college provided the backdrop for me to learn what it means to be spiritual and to live a life of spirituality. With help from the wonderful priests there and the lessons I had in class, I was able to encounter the Lord in a more meaningful way than ever before. These experiences certainly shaped me and gave me the confidence to explore priesthood as a vocation,” says Fr. O’Neill.
Christendom’s founder, Dr. Warren H. Carroll, intended that the school form good and faithful Catholics who would impact the world in every field for the better. As a result, alumni are employed in a myriad of fields, including journalism, medical, political, educational, law, or spiritual. Deacons Ascik and Fehrenbacher are the latest in a long line of over two thousand alumni to fulfill that intention after attending the school.
These two are proof that the college is fulfilling its mission by helping to prepare students for their call to greatness — no matter the educational calling. Together, these two alumni priests will help bring Christ to the people through their respective charisms, following through on the mission of Christendom to “restore all things in Christ.”