Over the course of a century, Ann Cvaniga saw the culture grow more decadent and fall away from Christian beliefs. Rather than stand idly by, Cvaniga sought to make a difference, and saw Christendom College’s faithful education as a way of fulfilling this need. After over 20 years of giving faithfully to the college, she passed away on March 3, 2019, at the age of 108. When she died, Cvaniga generously left Christendom 20% of her estate, a legacy which will impact the lives of Christendom students for years to come.

Cvaniga was born to Slovenian immigrants in Trinidad, Colorado, in 1910. Her father, a coal miner, died after growing ill from his work when she was young. When she was about 14 years old, her mother remarried, and the family moved to Indiana. Following her high school graduation, Cvaniga worked as a secretary at a company in Chicago that manufactured military parts during World War II, while also taking college classes. She was a shareholder of the company by the time she was 26 years old and, by 30, she was a co-owner. In addition to these achievements, she also invented and patented products to facilitate the manufacture of her company’s products.

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Eventually selling her part of the company and returning to Colorado, Cvaniga attended the University of Denver and earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, followed by a master’s degree in Spanish Literature. She then taught Spanish for four years. Passionate about education, she continued taking classes at the University of Denver into her early 100s.

Cvaniga’s brother, Fr. Stephen Cvaniga, first told her about Christendom College, inspiring her involvement. Over the years, she wrote to college president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, thanking Christendom for defending the faith in decadent times through its excellent education and formation of students.

John Ciskanik, executive director of planned giving, served as Christendom’s ambassador to Cvaniga for 16 years, enjoying her life stories and deepening her love of Christendom’s mission.

“Ann was a real go-getter and a passionate advocate for Catholic education,” reflects Ciskanik. “She had such a positive and inspiring impact on Christendom during her lifetime, and I know the legacy she leaves behind will continue to enrich the Christendom community and transform the lives of our students.”

Through the Saint John Paul II Legacy Society, Christendom College recognizes those who help restore Christian culture through a legacy gift, of any amount, to the college. Many generous men and women have left a lasting legacy through their planned gifts, ensuring that Christendom’s students and community continue to grow in Faith and Truth. Cvaniga wanted to impact the culture for the better, and her generosity will ensure that this is possible for years to come.


The Christendom College Magazine, entitled Instaurare, is published 3 times a year and mailed free of charge to alumni, families, prospective students, donors, and friends. Subscribe now at www.christendom.edu/news/instaurare-magazine.

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