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Christendom College Honors Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., and Dr. Janet Smith at Record-Setting 40th Commencement

May 13, 2019

Christendom College celebrated commencement weekend on May 10-12, awarding a record 127 degrees and honoring author Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J. and Humanae Vitae expert Dr. Janet Smith. Fr. Spitzer was awarded the college’s St. Peter Canisius Award and delivered the commencement address on Saturday. Smith was awarded an honorary doctorate and delivered remarks during the graduation dinner on Friday, while the Diocese of Arlington’s Bishop Michael Burbidge celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass.

Fr. Spitzer began his commencement address by praising the Class of 2019, congratulating them on this momentous step in their professional, personal, and spiritual lives.

“I can already tell from the well-articulated and faith-filled salutatorian speech how well-educated you are, not only in the ways of the world but most importantly in the ways of faith and in the heart of Jesus Christ,” said Fr. Spitzer.

During his address, Fr. Spitzer spoke on his experience in Catholic education, covering everything from his time as a student to his time as the former president of Gonzaga University. Pulling from his years of learning and teaching, Fr. Spitzer provided graduates with three pieces of advice as they go forth into the next stage of their lives: to look for the contributive before the comparative, to look for the good news in others before the bad news, and to live for Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, every day, conditioning everything that the world says through Him.

“I assure you of this: these three pledges every morning will bring you sanity, they’ll bring you salvation,  they’ll bring you protection from your spiritual enemy, the devil, and they’ll bring you tremendously good relationships, tremendously good leadership potential and, at the end of the day, a happy life — not just happy in this world, but happy in the Beatific Vision with our Lord Jesus Christ and with one another in Heaven forever. Congratulations again to you, the Class of 2019,” said Fr. Spitzer.

On Friday, Bishop Michael Burbidge celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass for graduates and their families. During his homily, Bishop Burbidge encouraged the Class of 2019 to be proud of successfully completing a rigorous program of higher education and called them to have a tremendous impact in the Church and in society.

“Your diploma is a result of your hard work, your dedication, and your perseverance. When people say to you, ‘congratulations,’ they really mean it. Well done. Accept those words, but do so with a spirit of humility, knowing that all you have accomplished has been with the help and grace of God,” said Bishop Burbidge. “Your education, dear graduates — and you should be very proud of this — was not just informative but formative, preparing you not just for the rest of your life here but for eternal life.”

At the graduation dinner, Smith, was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters. She praised Christendom graduates during her remarks, saying that the college’s education helps prepare students to become the best evangelists in the world.

“Christendom students are in the unique position of becoming the best evangelists of all time,” said Smith. “Delight in what you have received here. This place is extremely special, and it has made such an enormous contribution to the world. You are privileged to have been a part of it.”

Closing the ceremonies on Saturday, college president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell delivered his charge to the graduates.

“My charge to you, Class of 2019: be men and women of courageous faith. Do not be timid, be bold. Be a light in the darkness. Our troubled world is so in need of a powerful, spirit-filled witness,” said O’Donnell. “Please, always remember as you go from here, that you are a child of God. That is your greatest freedom, your greatest dignity. Always remember that He loves you personally, perfectly, infinitely, and intimately, and He joyfully beckons you to not just gaze at His Heart but to enter into the mystery of His Heart. He longs to give you all the grace, all the strength, all the courage you will need in your young life. May you go forth from us today filled with the Lord’s courage and in the joy of the Risen Lord on your mission to restore all things in Christ. Know that our hearts and our prayers will be with you every step of the way.”

The one hundred and twenty-seven members of the class of 2019 are Margaret Adams, Sophie Adams, Celina Albisu, Thomas Anderson, McCarthy Andrews, Lilia Baker, Mary Bookwalter, Garrett Boord, Helena Briggs, Emily Brown, Jonathan Buehler, Dylan Burgess, Johanna Burke, Joshua Butek, Valerie Carter, Jacob Cassidy, Clare Castellan, Augustine Cavalier, Laura Cermak, Julia Ciskanik, Clifford Clemotte, Anna Cook, Daniel Corkery, Margaret Coyne, Peter Day, Nicolas del Rosal, Michael Duca, Benjamin Dunphy, Jacqueline Durant, Norman Dusseault III, John Echaniz, Emily Farabaugh, Nicole Feldman, Eric Firehammer, Karl Foeckler, Lisa Foos, Milanna Fritz, Mercy Gjolberg, Angela Golden, Sophie Gordon, Abigail Grande, Courtney Hahn, Mary-Grace Handy, Colleen Haupt, Catherine Hepler, Clare Hepler, Bernadette Hibl, Alexandria Hill, Lillian Hynfield, Catherine Jackson, John Paul Janaro, Daniel Jost II, Margaret Kaiser, Joseph D. Kelly, Joseph P. Kelly, Nuala Kelly, Sarah Kokes, Luke Kopeck, Krista Kosar, Kevin Kuplack, Genevieve La Fave, Alexander Lancaster, Joshua Lane, Michael LaRochelle, Felice Litterio, Henry Love, Hannah Lowe, Erica Lucas, Alejandro Lupo, Timothy Marra, Benjamin Marsh, Ciara McArdle, Shane McCrum, Francisco McDonough, Charles McKenna, Mary McLaughlin, Gemma McMahon, Mary McWhirter, Patrick Meier, Victoria Merriman, Jerome Mersch, Georgie Messing, Mary Katherine Mooney, Sabrina Morales, Jeana Morgan, Jerome Norton, Stephanie Nussio, Benedict O’Brien, Sebastian O’Donnell, Rose O’Reilly, Ann Pennefather, Patrick Pennefather, Joseph Peters, Tait Pilegaard, Dominic Pileggi, Maria Pogue, Kristina Prebilic, Hannah Puncer, Theresa Raabe, Nathaniel Reyes, Meghan Santschi, Christine Schmidt, Joseph Schneider, Katarina Schwake, Luke Scrivener, Tamlyn Sheng, Vincent Smith, David Snyder, Annemarie Speer, John Sullivan, Elisa Townsend, Christopher Tran, Amanda Tutt, Patricia Walsh, Adriana Walter, Thomas Ward, Emily Weichert, Elise Whittaker, Seamus Wick, Eileen Williamson, Joshua Wilson, Bailey Young, Gemma Youngman, Sarah Ziegler, Jean McCoy and Andrew Stauffer.

Watch Fr. Robert Spitzer’s Commencement Address.

Watch Bishop Michael Burbidge’s Homily here.

Watch Dr. Janet Smith’s Remarks here.

Watch Dr. Timothy O’Donnell’s Charge to the Graduates here.

Watch Milanna Fritz’s Salutatory Address.

Watch Laura Cermak’s Valedictory Address here.