Student Profile

Peter Tapsak

Year: Freshman
From: Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
Major: Not sure... either History, Philosophy, or Political Science.
Hobbies: Music, coffee, debate.
What's your favorite class or professor? Social Teachings of the Catholic Church with Prof. Bracy Bersnak. The subject matter is extremely fascinating and relatable, and Prof. Bersnak's working knowledge is incredible.
What extra-curricular activities do you participate in? I'm a member of the choir and schola, and a newly inducted member of the Chester-Belloc Debate Society. I also write for The Rambler.
What is your favorite thing about Christendom? The student body and the professors. I know that almost sums up the entirety of the college experience, but I really do enjoy my interaction both in and out of class. It makes it much easier to strike a proper balance between academic “hermitage” and social life.
Why did you choose Christendom?  After attending the Experience Christendom Summer Program and visiting a number of times, I knew Christendom was right for me because of the Catholic culture that permeates all aspects of the college's life.
What has surprised you the most about Christendom? At the end of the day, I'm always struck by the fact that, despite any difficulties that may arise between students or in classes, we're all on the same team. To see your friends and faculty in the chapel every day, or cheering on the Crusaders, or advancing the intellectual life through the mutual pursuit of truth, is incredibly encouraging.
Plans after graduation? I'm going to continue my education either at law school or graduate school.
Any parting words of advice for a perspective student? Get involved immediately. It's a small school and you will form really tight relationships with your friends, but the experience is greatly enhanced knowing that you're working together for some goal above yourselves.

Student Life

Interviewing Workshop

Tuesday evening, a group of students attended one of the Interviewing Workshops held this semester. The workshop taught students how to present themselves in the best way possible in an interview, what they can learn from different scenarios, and how those skills will help them in the professional world after college. This workshop was offered as a part of Christendom's Educaiton for a Lifetime Program, which is a series of talks, classes, and variety of services all offered by the college to help students transition from student life to the business world as smoothly and successfully as possible.

Senior Gloria Connolly explains her question.

The instructor, Mr. Keith Robinson, calls on one of the attendants.


Reading Prose and Poetry

Faculty, staff, and students gathered in the library on Wednesday night for Prose and Poetry Night. The event, which is hosted annually by the library staff, took place in the cozy atmosphere of Sacred Grounds coffee shop. Participants and the audience enjoyed a delicious spread of food and drinks.

Many students honed their public speaking skills by reading one of their favorite poems or excerpts of prose. Students read from a wide array of literary masterpieces, whether it was poetry by Lewis Carroll or a passage from The Chronicles of Narnia. The audience also enjoyed hearing readings from professors and school staff, including Dr. Miriam Byers and Mr. Stephen Pilon.

Senior Matt Speer gives a dramatic reading of "The Jabberwocky."

Senior Conor O'Donnell entertains the audience with some Irish verse.

Sophomore Amy Marter recites.


Snow Day!

On Thursday morning, students awoke to a foot of snow on the ground, snowflakes still in the air, and a class-free day with which to enjoy it. Eventually reaching about sixteen inches, the snow kept falling the whole day, and the campus was full of people playing in the cold with their classmates—many of whom had never experienced that much snow before. Everywhere the sounds of playful shouting could be heard as the slopes were flooded with friends sledding and marveling at the snow.

Upperclassmen ladies smile for a picture in their snowy hiding place.

The guys pose in their variety of snow attire (or lack thereof...).

The guys slide head-first down the hill behind the chapel.

Freshman guys land in a pile at the bottom of the hill after a thrilling ride down.

Senior Klarissa Blank and Junior Andre Moreau push off down the hill.

Friends' backs and trash bags served as fun sleds.


Chilling with the Religious at Guys' and Girls' Night

Discernment Weekend kicked off on Friday night with two great activities to welcome visiting priests and religious to Christendom’s campus. Girls’ Night was held at Kilian’s Café and gave Christendom girls and visiting sisters from various orders a chance to get to know each other. Everyone chatted, played games, ate a lot of great food, and enjoyed a very successful open mic night.

Meanwhile, Guys’ Night was held at the gym. Priests, seminarians and brothers were able to spend time talking with Christendom guys, enjoying a plentiful supply of pizza, and playing sports in the gym. Both events were well-attended and served as a great introduction to Christendom for the Discernment Weekend Guests.

Sisters and Christendom girls enjoying each other's company.

Senior Faith Leopold gives an amazing performance on her ukulele.

Fun and games with the Dominicans.

The guys gather together to talk to the many priests on campus.

Some intense games of dodgeball took place in the gym.


Tables and Talks

On Saturday, students attended numerous events as part of Christendom’s annual Discernment Weekend. The day started off with Mass and then brunch with the various priests and religious who were visiting Christendom. Following brunch, students were able to go to different breakout sessions held by the college’s religious guests. These sessions included talks on everything having to do with discerning a vocation. All the talks were well-attended, and some highlights included “Why Women Religious are Important in the World” given by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, “Dating, Marriage, & Family Life,” by Professor Mark Wunsch and his wife Jessica, and “What’s Life Like in the Seminary?” given by seminarian and Christendom alumnus Nick Blank.

In between breakout sessions, students were also able to visit the vocation tables set up in the Commons. These tables had representatives from each visiting order and information about these orders. This gave students and religious a chance to have great one-on-one conversations as well. The day ended with sung Vespers, Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Christ the King Chapel.

Director of Vocations of the Arlington Diocese Fr. Jaffe speaks on "Why the Diocesan Priesthood Matters."

Philosophy professor Mark Wunsch and his wife Jessica speak about dating, marriage and family life.

Dominican sisters, Sr. Theresa Anne and Sr. Maris Stella, speak on the importance of women religious in the world.

Seminarian Nick Blank ('13) talks about his experiences at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary.

All the visiting religious had informational tables set up in the Commons for students and visitors to come talk to them and ask questions. Above senior Sean Ryan chats with alumnus and seminarian Nick Peterson ('11).


A Cappella Night

The St. Lawrence Commons was standing-room only during Saturday night's popular Dorm Wars event, A Cappella Night. Teams sang a variety of songs, from spirit-filled soul music to humorous mash-ups of popular hits. The performances kept the audience thoroughly entertained throughout the night, as did the judge's comentary by college chaplain Fr. Donald Planty. The panel of judges consisted of religious visiting for Discernment Weekend: almunus and seminarian Nick Blank, Franciscan Sister Clare Matthias, Arlington's Director of Religious Vocations, Fr. Jaffe, along with college chaplain Fr. Planty, and college registrar Walter Janaro. All the teams gave impressive performances, truly showcasing the outstanding musical (and comical) talent on campus, but in the end the Iron Ringos won the gold. All the attendants had a wonderful time, and the blend of music, jokes, laughter, and fellowship left everyone satisfied.

Seniors Joe Duca and Zach Smith rapped for off-campus team, "The Ostracized".

The ladies represent the "Random Citizens" with a soulful tune.

"The Iron Ringos" fill the stage to perform their humorous duet.

"The UnsTOPpables" perform a lovely mix of love songs.

St. Lawrence Commons was full of people who came out to hear the performances.

The judges discuss their decision.

"The Iron Ringos" fill the room with laughter as they perform their winning song again.


Ping-Pong Meets Dorm Wars

On Sunday afternoon, each dorm’s finest ping-pong players met in the basement of the Student Center for the first ever Dorm Wars Ping-Pong Tournament. The teams came to play in a variety of spirit wear, ranging from matching hats to coordinated outfits, and put their reflexes to the test. The games were double-elimination, and one by one pairs dropped off the leaderboard, until The Iron Ringos and Sean of the Dead were the last two standing. After a fast-paced championship, Sean of the Dead won three games in a row to secure the gold. This casual, fun way to compete with friends was enjoyed by all who participated.

“The ping-pong competition was a great addition to Dorm Wars," junior Andre Moreau said. "I appreciated the way the tournament revolved around teams, allowing everyone to participate in the spirit of fellowship. Not only was it entertaining, but it was also an awesome opportunity to enjoy some friendly competition with other students”.

Senior Matt Speer and Freshman Gabe Murphy share some team spirit before their match.

The guys get ready for another round.

Freshman Thomas Hepler serves to the Iron Ringos.

Sean LaRochelle, along with teammate Sean Ryan, carry the day with their matching outfits.


Rome Report

with Philip Gilbert

Beauty and Grandeur


Ah, Bella Roma. Where should I begin?

The Junior Semester in Rome Program offered by Christendom is, at least for myself, a rare chance for the experience of a lifetime.  We've been anticipating and dreaming about it since freshman year, and now that the Rome Program has begun, it seems strange and unreal. I keep telling myself that I really am in Italy. I really will be living in Rome for three months with a group of amazing friends with whom I will be able to share many amazing experiences.  The Rome experience is not just limited to being doused in the Italian language, food, and culture, but living in the beating heart of the Church, and every day having the chance to walk the same ground as have countless saints and martyrs. The truth and significance of this was something that I failed to fully comprehend until I arrived in Rome.

My first impression of Rome was disbelief and awe.

As our first official Rome Program activity, we all walked from where we will be living at Residence Candia, to Saint Peter's Basilica to attend Mass. We all felt privileged to be allowed to pass through the crowds of picture-snapping tourists and the barriers, which blocked them, and to go all the way to the very front of the church where Mass was to be celebrated at the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter. 

After Mass and a moving homily about the evangelization of the Slavs by Saints Cyril and Methodius, we were given some time to walk around and see the basilica for ourselves. I had previously seen many pictures and postcards of Saint Peter's, but nothing could have prepared me for witnessing it in person. I was absolutely blown away by the combination of the sheer immensity of the structure; the incredible quality of the paintings and sculptures coating every visible surface; and the vast collection of relics belonging to popes, saints, and martyrs kept in the various shrines and altars available for veneration. 

I was able to pray for a dear friend at the tomb of her favorite saint, the soon-to-be-canonized Blessed John Paul II, and also near the tomb of the patron of my parish. I discovered that the painted ceilings were so high that I would lose my balance while trying to look at them. The entire experience was incredibly overwhelming—so much—to the point that I had to step outside to regain myself. My mind was completely blown. I had never properly fathomed the grandeur of Saint Peter's—though I had heard much about the basilica, everyone else's words, as I am sure mine own do, had failed to convey even a fraction of the experience.

The next morning I was better prepared for Saint Peter's and we walked to the basilica to hear early morning mass. Upon entering, we were surprised to see a dozen or so priests simultaneously exiting the sacristy, each accompanied by an altar server to individual side altars. The phrase that best conveys this is “Mass shopping,” because we quickly had to choose what language, altar, and priest we wanted for Mass. Afterwards, we noticed that Christendom's Bishop Loverde of the Arlington Diocese was in the middle celebrating Mass at another altar, so after the dismissal we caught his attention as he was processing back to the sacristy. Once we told him that we were Christendom students, he was glad to see us, wished us the best for our semester, and gave us a blessing.

Later on, the entire Rome Program group went to dinner at a restaurant run by two competitive brothers, who both insisted everyone eat every little bit of each of the four courses placed one-by-one in front of us. When someone began to slow down or stop eating one of the brothers would come by and shout “Mangia! Mangia!” (Eat! Eat!), much to the delight of everyone in the restaurant.  A couple times, some of the hungrier-looking males in the group found that the cooks had emptied the serving plate onto their dinner plate, accompanied with the imperative mangia! Eventually when people insisted they could eat no more of what was on their plate the cooks would, as if accepting a challenge, take the plate and sit down at one of our tables and eat it as quickly as possible, to be greeted with uproarious applause upon completion.  After dessert had been served, the entire rest of the cake was brought out and set on our table, and the cooks insisted that it disappear—mangia!

By the end of the night the antics of the two cooks had all of us in stitches with laughter, and we returned to our residence full of delicious Italian food and feeling thoroughly welcomed to Rome.

Praying before the Pieta in St. Peters.

The Rome Program Staff, Katie Ott, Gabe Schuberg, and Liz Walsh, welcome the students.

The path to St. Peter's from the student's residence runs along the Vatican walls.

Enjoying a view of the Roman skyline.

Danial McDowell drinks in life in Rome... la vita é bella.


Crusader Sports Center

Big Win on Senior Night

Playing their second-to-last game of the season last night, the men’s basketball team defeated the Sentinels of Patrick Henry College, 64-38. On a night that featured the honoring of the five seniors on the team, it was a team effort that notched another win for the Crusaders. With 12 players scoring and everyone playing at least three minutes of the game—each player did their part to give the seniors a night to remember.

After a sluggish start to the game—no doubt caused by the emotion and energy of senior night—the Christendom team settled into a groove and ran away with the game in the second half. John Paul Heisler led the Crusaders with 16 points, while Jeremy Minick added five points, seven assists, and four rebounds in the team balanced win.

Despite the game being a team effort, the night belonged to five seniors, who coincidentally would only want it to be about the team and not about them.

“The highest compliment I can pay these five fine young men is that they are the example of Catholic man-hood and I would be honored to go into battle with each of them,” said Coach Vander Woude at the beginning of his half-time remarks. He contained his remarks by addressing each senior.

Speaking about Brian McCrum:

Brian is calm and unflappable, funny and loves the game of basketball. Despite not getting a lot of calls because he is usually the biggest on the floor he always gave his best.

Speaking about Conor O’Donnell:

Conor has improved tremendously as a person and a player. If you could only see practices, he pours himself out each and every practice no matter the minutes in games, there are many players on this team including Connor that are better players because of his hard-work day in and out in practice.”

Speaking about Christian Kopeck:

Christian is always willing to do whatever is necessary for the team and for me as coach, whether it be guard the best player on the opposing team or play down low, he is ready and willing. His energy and joy for life will definitely be missed next year.

Speaking about Tim Vander Woude:

Tim is one of our rocks on the team. A quiet strong leader who is never shaken no matter what is going on around him. By going through five surgeries in four years, Tim is a great example to everyone of perseverance and determination. He will be missed next year.

Speaking about John Fioramonti:

Finally, the Italian Stallion Jon Fioramonti, what can you say about the man. We have had many fine men come through Christendom, but I am not sure if they get any better than Jonathan. Playing soccer and basketball for four years, never missing a practice or a game and I don’t believe a minute exists where Jon Fioramonti relaxed or gave up. His integrity, dedication and commitment all the while excelling in the classroom with over a 3.5GPA is an example to us all. We all will miss your presence and example in the years to come.

The families of all five seniors were in attendance at the game as well which definitely added to the emotion of the night. These seniors exemplified leadership, dedication, commitment and integrity and we are all better for their presence and example.

The team plays its last game tonight when they host Lord Fairfax at 7:30pm.

Micah Davis adds two for the Crusaders.

Senior Tim Vander Woude tosses one up to the basket.

Freshman John Paul Heisler sinks another.

Senior Conor O'Donnell breaks through the defense.

Senior Christian Kopec in the air.

Senior Jon Fioramonti takes the shot.

Senior Brendan McCrum takes it to the hole.


Special Report

Our Faculty: Where Personal and Prestige Meet

A liberal arts education is not an easy thing to achieve. But don't worry; Christendom's faculty are here to help you along the way.

As mentioned in the last issue of the Chronicler, Christendom's smaller size enables it to offer a personal educational experience. Here, there are no teaching assistants or sparse office hours. There are no students lost in a sea of numbers. The professors are here for you. They are enthusiastic about their field and eager to share their wisdom with you. They will become more than just teachers—they will be your friends and mentors.

PhDs and publications, yes, Christendom professors have those, but it is their commitment to a personal educational experience and a passion for the liberal arts that sets them apart.

Take a look at some the institutions where our faculty have earned their degrees:

American University
Boston College
Columbia University
Duquesne University
Cornell College
Duke University
Fordham University
Georgetown University
Johns Hopkins University
Marquette University
Michigan State University
Northwestern University
Purdue University
St. Louis University
University of Kentucky
University of Miami
University of Navarre
University of North Carolina
University of Notre Dame
University of Oregon
University of San Francisco
University of Toronto
University of Virginia
Yale University

Thanks to the dedication of the faculty, the college has a well-earned reputation as an institution that places undergraduate learning at the center of its mission.

Find out more about Christendom's esteemed faculty here.


Tom McFaddenAsk the Director

Q. Can I retake the SAT, even if I've already been accepted to Christendom? And if I do, is there really any point?

A. At Christendom College, we base our decision to give out academic scholarships primarily on SAT or ACT scores. I'm not saying that this is the objectively best way to do it, but for Christendom is works out best. So, if a student applies to Christendom with a 26 on his ACT or a 1900 on his SAT, those are great scores and it is more than likely that he will be accepted. But, based on those scores, unfortunately, he will not be given an academic scholarship. But that's OK because he can re-take the SAT or ACT as many times as he wants, all the way up until June of his senior year, and if he gets a 29 on the ACT or a superscore of 1920 or higher on the SAT, then he gets academic scholarship. Yay!

satSo, I highly recommend people to start thinking about taking the SAT/ACT at the beginning of junior year. Then, depending on the score you receive, maybe plan on taking it once more in junior year. In senior year, sign up to take it in the fall, and for good measure, take it one more time in the spring. It may seem like a lot of effort, but the higher your score, the more money you can get (and that's not just at Christendom…many colleges give out more money for higher scores).

My daughter, Maria, has applied for the fall, and she first took the SAT when she was 15. She did pretty well, but we had her take it again last year. Now, she is planning on taking it a third time on March 8th, in order to boost her scores even higher. So, my family is going through this whole process at this time, too, so we can commiserate.

God bless,