Student Profile

Zach Smith

Age: 21
Year: Senior
From: Wichita Falls, Texas
Major: History
Hobbies? Hanging out with friends, running, drinking coffee, and putting on events.
Who's your favorite professor? That is a tough question to answer...Christendom has provided so many great learning experiences over the years, and plenty of great teachers to provide those experiences. If I had to narrow it down to two, it would have to be any history class with Dr. Schwartz, and Modern Philosophy with Mr. Brown. They have both helped me to really grasp the material in both subjects in ways that have helped me to grow not only in class, but in everything I do as well.
What extra-curricular activities do you participate in? I am the Tech Director on the Student Activities Council, and I occasionally write for the Rambler and play rugby as well.
What is your favorite thing about Christendom? Managing to keep what I love about Christendom to only one thing is...difficult. But the community that the college fosters is unlike anything else I have ever experienced in life. Getting the chance to be with people who are all working for the same goal—becoming closer to God and attempting, to the best of our abilities, to do His will in all things—causes a solidarity that has made everything at Christendom even richer as a result.
Why did you choose Christendom? My sister went here a few years ago before me, so I already knew about Christendom before I ever considered going to college. I'd been looking at other schools for a while, however, so it wasn't until I went to the Experience Christendom Summer Program that I truly decided to come here. Even then, the best parts of Christendom—the community, the constancy of Christ in everything we do, the fantastic professors,—were all there, and I knew then that Christendom was what I wanted for my collegiate experience.
What has surprised you the most about Christendom? How available the Professors always are for the students, whether it be for help with homework or just to talk. Plenty of my friends who go to other colleges are always surprised when I tell them that.
Plans after graduation? I'm looking into working at one of the U.S. Intelligence Agencies.
Any parting words of advice for a prospective student? Take part in as much extracurricular activities as possible on campus—without killing your grades of course. Nothing will make you love and appreciate Christendom more than truly taking part in all that the campus has to offer.

Student Life

Karaoke Night!

On Friday evening, the Student Activities Council (SAC) hosted Karaoke Pub Night in St. Kilian’s Café for all students. Everyone had the chance to get up on stage and pick from nearly 100 songs to sing, and the event proved a huge success! Students sang their hearts out, either individually or in groups with their friends, and the crowd joined in to make it a very enjoyable evening. Plenty of snacks and drinks were served as well, to help make the evening more enjoyable.

“I had no idea how much fun karaoke night would be, but it was the perfect start to the weekend,” says freshman Peter Gaetano. “It was great seeing everyone just getting really into it and making fools of themselves singing with their friends.”

Freshmen students sing their hearts out!

Senior Matt Speer and freshman Joe Gonzalez perform the Beatles' "Let it Be."

Freshman Hannah Rainey performs a beautiful solo act.

The senior girls join together on stage.



St. Cecilia's Night

St. Cecilia's Night is always popular at Christendom. On Saturday night, about 200 students came out for the musical event. Favorite performances throughout the night included sophomore Nick Jaroma and senior Conor Knox's "Hey Brother," a group of students singing "Life is So Peculiar," and a duet by freshman Paul Flagg on the electric guitar and Peter Tapsak on the saxophone.

Christendom has a long history of cherishing the art of music. There is always a wide variety of talent demonstrated by the students. Events like these, as well as Piano Night and Coffee House, or even simply the strumming of guitars and mandolins outside the dorms, prove the true love for music the students have.

"I loved having the chance to hear my classmates perform," junior Douglas Watson said. " It was a really enjoyable evening and look forward to it coming around again next fall."

Seniors Lauren Enk, Margaret Santschi, and Veronica Halbur sing the "Magnificat."

Paul Flagg and Peter Tapsak's duet was a huge hit.

A group of students get together and perform a fun piece.

Senior Peter McShurley accompanies his sister, sophomore Miriam McShurley.

Juniors Veronica Stanton and Pat McKenna sing with seniors Katie Shannon and Kelsey Ingold.


Papal Economics

fr. ziebaFr. Maciej Zieba, author, theologian and friend of Blessed Pope John Paul II, delivered a lecture to students and faculty called "Papal Economics: the Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism" on Tuesday. Fr. Zieba discussed how Catholic social doctrine shifted in the last century and the significance of the papal encyclical "Centesimus Annus."

"It was neither the free market economy, nor democracy, nor liberalism, nor capitalism as such, that was antithetical to Christianity, but rather and only the ideological interpretations of them," Fr. Zieba said. "Moreover it becomes clear—though admittedly in the last centuries it was clear to almost no one—that they were consistent with Christian culture and constitute one of the most significant manifestations."

You can download this lecture at Christendom on iTunes U.

itunes u

Evening with a String Quartet

On Sunday evening, students were able to enjoy the rare treat of being able to see a professional string quartet perform here on campus.

The String Quartet of Northern Virginia soothed the audience with their beautiful performances of pieces by Glazunov, Shostakovich, and Haydn, providing those who attended with the opportunity to sit back, relax, and simply enjoy the beauty of their performance after the long week.

The performance was part of the college's Beato Fra Angelico Fine Arts Program, which seeks to offer students the chance to learn about and appreciate higher forms of artistic expression by providing performances, lectures, trips, and exhibitions to give students an opportunity to both learn about art and to share some of their own.

The String Quartet of Northern Virginia gave an outstanding performance.


Rome Report

with Maria Bonvisutto

Radio Vaticana


Last Friday morning, a group of us had the pleasure of touring the Vatican Radio offices. Mr. Seàn-Patrick Lovett, Program Director at Vatican Radio, visited Christendom last spring as part of the Major Speakers program. He gave an excellent talk on the importance of listening in today’s world, and at the end of the speech invited any and all Christendom Romers to stop by Vatican Radio and see him when we were in town. I think we all had it in the back of our minds that it would be a wonderful thing to do, but few of us imagined we’d actually make it there and get to talk to him again!

However, thanks to the organizational skills and planning of one of our classmates, Laura Wynne, we were able set a time to go see Vatican Radio for ourselves. Mr. Lovett gave us a warm welcome, and we started things off by watching a short documentary on the history of Vatican Radio. We came in with little previous knowledge of the institution, so it was fascinating to get some context for the place we’d be touring. I think we all especially enjoyed learning about the important role that the radio played for the Church during World War II. Afterwards, we were able to simply sit and chat with Mr. Lovett for a while and ask him any questions that we had about Vatican Radio, its history, how it functions, the challenges it has to meet and the important work it does today in helping to evangelize and inform the world.

Mr. Lovett then took us around the Vatican Radio building. Everyone loved visiting one of its most famous studios where Blessed John Paul II used to broadcast from in Polish occasionally when he was a cardinal. It was also the studio that Pope Benedict XVI would often use when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. While inside it, we looked around, sat in the chairs and even got to try on the headphones and push a button or two. During the entire time, Mr. Lovett kept us entertained with amusing and amazing anecdotes from his many years working at Vatican Radio. After having worked under five different Popes, he certainly has a lot of interesting facts and stories to share!

We ended our morning with a visit to the Radio’s chapel.  A small, round, perfectly sound-proof room in the middle of the Vatican Radio offices, it’s a peaceful haven from the technological goings-on around it and the frenetic Roman streets just outside. While our time at the office was relatively short, we all thoroughly enjoyed talking with Mr. Lovett and getting an inside glimpse into this world-renowned radio station.

Mr. Lovett gives a tour of the studio.

On air: students check out the equipment. Maybe they will follow in the footsteps of alumni Chris Wells ('97) and Ann Schneible ('04), who work as journalists for Vatican Radio and other news sources in Rome...

Christendom Romers at Vatican Radio.



Crusader Sports Center

Crusaders Get First Win with Team Effort

The Crusaders started off fast and held on for their first win of the season Tuesday night winning 65-58. The men’s team, which has played a very tough schedule—including Davis College, Penn State Mont Alto, and Division III power Randolph College—got a much needed win.

The Crusaders hosted the second team of Southern Virginia University achieving their first win against the opponent in the last four years. The rivalry, which has included many close games over its history, including a 17 point historical comeback with a buzzer-show by Matt Rensch ('11) to send the game into overtime, proved to play out in similar fashion this time as well.

The Crusaders jumped out to an early lead led by Tim Vander Woude’s nine points in the first half. The Knights of Southern Virginia, utilizing a multiple-guard formation, tested the defense of the Crusaders.

“Senior Jon Fioramonti played a great floor game. He did a real good job on their best shooter, holding him without a three-point bucket the entire game, and made good decisions on offense,” head coach Chris Vander Woude said.

The Crusaders opened up a 25-12 lead mid-way through the first half before the Knights stormed back. When the buzzer sounded at the half, the score read a tie ball game. Fueled by an energetic and positive half-time, the Crusaders came out and poured themselves into the second half.

Minick, who led all scorers with 18 points, seven assists, and seven steals, knocked down two huge shots in the final five minutes, including a three-pointer that put the Crusaders up by 4, and there to stay.

“It was definitely a team effort, both on defense and on offense. We did a great job moving the ball and finding the open man," Coach Vander Woude said. "John Paul Heisler hit some huge shots for us in the second half.”

Minick knocked down a free-throw in the final seconds and secured the win 65-58 for the Crusaders.

The team is off until Saturday when they will host Maryland Bible College at 4 p.m. at Crusader Gymnasium. The Lady Crusaders are also in action on Saturday as they travel to Notre Dame of Maryland.


Senior Brian McCrum soars to the basket.

Senior Tim Vander Woude sinks one.

Senior Jon Fioramonti adds two.


Special Report

The Fine Arts at Christendom College

Paired perfectly with its outstanding liberal arts curriculum is Christendom College’s unique promotion of the fine arts. Encompassing everything from formal choirs to casual Pub Night performances, the opportunities for musical and theatrical growth are numerous and varied.

For the vocally talented there are two different choirs, both which serve the Lord by performing the parts of the Holy Mass throughout the week, and in full splendor on Sundays. The Schola Gregoriana is a men’s choir, and performs the chants for the weekday Masses. The Christendom Choir is the full group of men and women and awes everyone with their angelic voices every Sunday.

“I love being in the choir,"says sophomore Catherine McFadden. "Our choir director, Dr. Kurt Poterack, is amazing, and always strives to bring out the very best in all of us. It is such a wonderful way to give glory to God”.

Those who enjoy acting can join the Christendom Players, a group of students who come together to put on theatrical productions under the guidance of Dr. Patrick Keats, head of the English Department and Academic Dean. Known for their fun, lively performances, the Christendom Players have presented a wide variety of productions, including musicals, comedies, and tragedies, and ranging from the classic "A Midsummer’s Night Dream", to this Fall’s comical production of "The Three Musketeers."

"There is something very special about being able to convey a story through acting on the stage," junior Nick Gossin says. "Through the plays, I have made some very close friendships, and enjoy the reward that comes with presenting a production whose development has been seen by few, but who's impact is appreciated by all."

Instrumentalists also have multiple opportunities to perform for serious and casual events. Friday’s Pub Nights regularly offer an open stage which students always make use of, performing touching original pieces, covers of popular songs, and stirring Irish tunes. Piano Night and St. Cecilia’s Night are a couple examples of performances, which offer students the chance to dress up and play in a more elegant setting. And, as always, festivals for feast days and other holidays would not be complete without Christendom’s finest pulling out their instruments and treating everyone to music fitting the occasion.

Whether it is standing around the piano in the Commons while a friend plays his latest composition or attending MUS 304: Gregorian Chant as part of a Music Minor, seeing classmates in the plays or attending a lecture on Music Appreciation, the fine arts are constantly present on Christendom’s campus, and complete the college’s efforts to help its students grow in every area of life in the fullest way possible.


Tom McFaddenAsk the Director

Q. Why isn't Christendom considered a Great Books Program?

A. There are a number of good Catholic colleges out there today offering Great Books type programs—some are stricter in their interpretation of the Great Books, others a little more loose. Most of these schools are small, and they are very attractive to a certain type of student.

A Great Books Program is one which studies a certain limited number of primary texts in a Socratic or discussion type forum. No textbooks or secondary sources are used in a Great Books program and all students study the exact same subjects and receive one degree, a BA in Liberal Arts, without having choices of majors.

Christendom would be categorized as a college offering a classical liberal arts education, taught in the Scholastic manner. We rely heavily on many of the exact same primary texts read in a Great Books program, but we also use many secondary sources to gain deeper understanding of the subject matter. Additionally, we rely heavily on the great education and knowledge of our esteemed faculty. All of them have read more on the subjects that they teach than probably the whole student body put together. We rely on their insights into their subject matter and want to hear what they think about this or that topic in their area of expertise, as opposed to relying on the insights of college-aged students (which happens quite often in a Great Books Program).

Also, the vast majority of our classes are lecture format (with an average class size of around 18-22 students) with students having the ability to ask questions and make comments during class. Although we do have a very strong core curriculum, which lasts two and a half years, following the completion of the core, students are given the opportunity to delve deeper into one of six areas of study and major in Theology, Philosophy, English Language and Literature, Classics, Political Science, or History.

Additionally, most Great Books programs do not offer history as part of their curriculum because generally, in order to do an in-depth survey of history, textbooks are used. Here at Christendom, we rely heavily on College founder Dr. Warren Carroll's History of Christendom series of books.

And one last thing that is important to know about a Great Books program is that there is a big emphasis on student class participation, and less of an emphasis on writing. At Christendom, one of our goals is to have our students graduate with a command of the English language and that they can communicate clearly, articulate their points of view, and help others come to an understanding of the Truth—and we believe that honing writing skills is absolutely necessary. We also do encourage our students to speak in class and take part in discussions outside of class, but this is no substitute for the skill and art of writing.

Some like the idea of a Great Books program because they enjoy being a part of the learning process, and sometimes, those same people think that if they go to a college where lecture is the main format of teaching, they will not be able to ask their questions, defend their positions, question the teacher, and argue their points. They think they will simply sit there in their desk, take notes, study some textbook, and then spit it all out on paper for the test, and then move on to the next thing, without ever having really come to a real understanding of the subject matter. This is not the case, well, at least it is not the case at Christendom. Our students certainly understand the who, what, when, where, why, and how of what they learn. They ask questions, they discuss, they question, they think, they argue - they learn and they learn to think critically along the way as well.

Of course, there are other differences, but these are the ones I think may be easiest to understand. I hope that this clarifies a couple of the differences between a Great Books Program and what Christendom offers.

Here is an interesting (although a little long) look at the idea of studying the Great Books by a former University of Dallas professor named Frederick D. Wilhelmsen.

In short, Christendom is not a Great Books program because we wanted to provide our students with the age-old scholastic approach to education (the same approach used at all of the Catholic colleges and universities founded in Europe back in the day on through the 20th Century), giving them a solid core curriculum in the liberal arts, ordered by Thomistic wisdom within an historical matrix.