As the United States works to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Christendom is one of many Catholic colleges that has suspended on-campus classes and transitioned to online distance learning for the spring semester. The decision is a heartbreaking one, but students, faculty, and staff are now joining in prayer with fellow Catholic colleges around the U.S. and the world, praying for the safety and health of others and an end to the virus.
In an address to the Christendom community on March 17, college president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell encouraged students to stay the course during this challenging time and pray for “insight in how we can best act for His greater glory even now.”
“So often throughout history, Christian witness in times of trial moved others to embrace the faith,” said O’Donnell. “What a powerful message God can convey through us if we let Him, showing others our faith in a life after this earthly existence, and our hope in Our Savior who bears our suffering and sin to make possible our eternal happiness.”
Christendom hopes to be able to welcome students back to campus as early as April 14 and will be closely monitoring the ongoing situation in the United States. A decision about the rest of the spring semester will come no later than April 6.
While students are not on campus and public Masses are suspended in the college’s home Diocese of Arlington, the college’s chaplaincy continues to offer confession for the college’s faculty and staff and their families. College chaplain Fr. Marcus Pollard is writing daily reflections for students as well, offering them prayerful “homework” and encouragement during these uncertain times.
On March 19, staff and faculty gathered by the college’s Our Lady of Fatima shrine outdoors to pray the rosary at 4:00 pm, united with Pope Francis and the entire world in prayer. While the college’s tightknit community might be scattered, prayer still unites them and will continue to do so in the days ahead.
Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick Reilly wrote about the efforts of Christendom and other Catholic colleges in the United States in an article for the National Catholic Register on Friday, March 20. Students at Ave Maria University have been asked to double down on prayers, fasting, and sacrifices, while the friars at Franciscan University are offering a private Mass every day for the end of the coronavirus. In this time of great struggle, it is crucial to unite in prayer, no matter the school, no matter the location.
“Our faith is mightier than this moment, our hope rooted in something more than the difficulties of the day,” writes O’Donnell. “Jesus Christ remains with us always.”