Christendom Gives Back to its Home Diocese
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Christendom’s reach is global. With campuses in Virginia, Rome, and Ireland, it boasts alumni and students hailing from 50 states and eight foreign countries, in addition to missionary efforts affecting 10 countries worldwide. While the horizons of the community stretch far, the college’s local ground has felt the impact of what Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va., called “one of the finest Catholic colleges in the entire country and beyond.”
For nearly forty years, Christendom has lived and breathed in the Arlington diocese, thanks to the initial support of then-Bishop Thomas J. Welsh in 1977, and each of the subsequent bishops after him. The Diocese of Arlington has given its support to Christendom over the years, and Christendom has graciously given back to the diocese in turn. Over 30% of Christendom’s alumni have chosen to stay in the diocese post-graduation. Some are active in the religious life, others are educators or business leaders, but all have made the diocese their home, and the diocese is all the better for it.
Since its founding in 1977, Christendom has helped inspire 158 religious vocations, including seventy-five priests and fifty sisters. Of that great number, fourteen alumni priests currently serve in the Diocese of Arlington alone, along with three Poor Clare nuns and one deacon. These religious have a tremendous impact on countless lives within the diocese, aiding them spiritually along their journeys toward salvation.
In Winchester, Va., a small community of Catholics attended Mass at the secular Shenandoah University for the very first time this past February, thanks to the efforts of Christendom’s own chaplaincy. College chaplain Fr. Stephen McGraw and associate chaplain Fr. Mark Wenzinger — both Christendom alumni — traveled twenty-three miles from Christendom’s campus for the solemn and historic occasion, bringing the Mass to a new corner of the Diocese of Arlington. They will continue offering Mass and ministering to the small number of Catholics at Shenandoah University, in the hope that it will continue to grow and thrive in the future.
Christendom’s alumni priests are bringing Christ’s teachings to schools as well, with alumnus Fr. Bjorn Lundberg serving as chaplain of Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries, Va. At the young, increasingly popular school, Fr. Lundberg is joined by a staggering five other Christendom alumni on the staff, who teach the next generation of Catholic leaders religion, bioethics, social studies, and more.
Such a story is prevalent across the Arlington Diocese, with over one hundred and twenty-five alumni working for educational institutions. Alumna Melissa Manaker, who earned her M.A. from Christendom College in 2015, is one of the most active teachers in the Diocese of Arlington, serving as the principal of St. Rita’s Middle School, as chairman of the board for Angelus Academy, and as head of the Women’s Apostolate for Youth. Her impact is felt across the diocese, leading to her earning the Distinguished Teacher of the Year award in 2009.
Alumni impact education in other areas as well, with many working as directors of religious education at parishes, including 2005 alumnus Jimmy Blankenship. As director of religious education at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville, Va., Blankenship is responsible for the religious education of over 1,500 families, with over eight hundred students enrolled in grades kindergarten through high school. Under Blankenship’s leadership, the youth and adults of his parish are prepared for reception into the Catholic Church, helping the Diocese of Arlington continue to have one of the fastest-growing flocks in the United States in the process.
Alumnus Fr. Hezekias Carnazzo is also having a deep impact on the educational formation of the adults in this diocese. As founder of the Institute for Catholic Culture, Deacon Carnazzo offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year, featuring some of the greatest Catholic intellectuals — including Christendom’s own faculty — speaking on theology, philosophy, political science, and history. Each of these programs is held at a different parish within the Diocese of Arlington, giving a variety of adults the opportunity to learn Catholic truths in a way that previously did not exist within the diocese.
Each one of these fields is filled with Christendom graduates, and yet this does not even begin to scratch the surface of all that alumni do in this diocese. Whether they run small businesses, serve as lawyers, or work in insurance firms, countless lay alumni impact the secular world the Diocese of Arlington inhabits, making it a better place for families to grow and thrive in as a result.
Parishes, schools, businesses, non-profit organizations — Christendom alumni are everywhere in the diocese. By the grace of God, the Diocese of Arlington gave founder Warren Carroll its support to found Christendom College in 1977. It is only fitting that Christendom alumni give back an abundance of blessings in return.