Christendom College celebrated its 40th anniversary with an academic convocation this past Saturday, where it honored renowned philosopher and theologian Fr. James Schall, SJ, religious leader Mother Mary Assumpta Long, OP, and pro-life heroes Chris and Joan Bell. Fr. Schall received an honorary doctorate during the event, Mother Assumpta received the college’s St. Catherine of Siena Award, and the Bells were awarded the college’s Pro Deo et Patria medal.
Fr. Schall, professor emeritus at Georgetown University and author of Another Sort of Learning, while unable to attend the convocation due to health concerns, was honored to receive the doctorate, and sent his congratulations to the founders, students, faculty, staff, and alumni on the 40th anniversary of Christendom. He compared the college to the Nativity, saying that big things can come from small beginnings.
“To found anything is an awesome thing,” wrote Fr. Schall. “To put something into existence that otherwise would never appear is both an act of Faith and a rash hope. I was here the day that Bishop Welsh blessed these very grounds, when Christendom College was more vision than reality. At the time, the school was mainly a good idea. At its disposal was an abandoned labor villa on the Shenandoah. It seemed doubtful that anything would ever come of it, but innovations change things. 40 years later, we see buildings, a church, fields, a student body, faculty, tradition, and a long series of alumni who have studied here and proceeded out into the world to make their way. Students who have spent time here, I think, are blessed. Because you chose to study here, you will have seen things that you could not easily find in other institutions.”
After receiving the Pro Deo et Patria medal, Chris and Joan Bell praised the college for its joy and fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church, and encouraged the students to continue following and fighting for the truths of the Faith, wherever they may be,
“I think, despite any bad things going on in the world, we can live in perfect joy by simply saying ‘yes’ to Jesus, and with that yes we will know not only peace, but perfect joy,” said Joan Bell.
“With God, and with God’s love, there really is no fear,” continued Chris Bell. “I believe that your great love will be blessed by God, whatever you choose to do, wherever you choose to do it.”
Mother Assumpta Long, the founder of the religious order of Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and a former Christendom College board member, received the college’s St. Catherine of Siena Award, and spoke warmly of the college and its founders during her remarks.
“Many people here remember the turmoil in the Church in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and to think that Dr. Warren Carroll, in 1977, took this tremendous leap of faith, and thought that we have got to educate our young people in the Faith and a true Catholic education. Talk about a leap of faith, because I remember when he started that he had $50,000 dollars, 26 students, and 5 faculty. We’ve come a long way since then,” said Mother Assumpta. “Dr. O’Donnell, as the third president, is continuing this great tradition, seeing the need for wonderful Catholic institutions that teach the truth, the beauty, and the good. It’s exciting, and the best way that I can say how much I appreciate this college is to ask: what would it be like without Christendom College?”
The college concluded the event with a beautiful fireworks display above the Shenandoah Valley, illuminating the night sky and ending the evening on a spectacular note.
Along with this academic convocation, the college is hosting a multitude of other events throughout the year in honor of the 40th anniversary, including the 40th Anniversary Gala at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 2018, where Francis Cardinal Arinze will serve as Honorary Chairman and Senator and Mrs. Rick Santorum will act as Chairmen of the Dinner Committee.