Summer is always an exciting time for Christendom. On campus alone, the college is often busy hosting students for the Experience Christendom Summer Program and preparing to welcome new students in the fall. But amongst the alumni community, summer also means new ordinations for Christendom’s alumni who have discerned a religious vocation. This summer, the college saw six men ordained — three priests, three transitional deacons. The experience has been life-changing for all of them, as they begin serving Christ and His Church in this significant way.
“Life since ordination has been a bit of a whirlwind, but words are too feeble to be able to explain what it is like to celebrate Mass every day and hear confessions,” remarks Fr. Peter McShurley (’14), one of Christendom’s newly ordained priests, now stationed at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Arlington, Virginia.
This feeling of joy but also incredible humility is reflected amongst all the newly ordained, along with a deep sense of gratitude for being gifted with this vocation. In Christendom’s home Diocese of Arlington alone, four men were ordained: Fr. McShurley to the priesthood and Deacons Jonathan Fioramonti (’14), Joseph Townsend (’11), and John Paul Heisler (’17) to the transitional diaconate. Outside the diocese, Fr. David McWhirter, FSSP (’12) was also ordained along with Fr. Miguel Flores-Perez (’02).
In total, the college now has seen 94 alumni be ordained as priests since the college’s founding, with another five men scheduled to be ordained as priests next year.
“I am very grateful at how much care our bishop has taken in getting to know us personally,” says Deacon Heisler, who is among those set to be ordained next year. He is currently serving at All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, Virginia, where he will remain until next summer. “Life has been amazing since ordination. I am amazed at how natural preaching has felt, and baptisms are such a special moment as a new deacon as well.”
In a year where many have been without the sacraments for extended periods of time, having new priests and deacons eager to help lead people to Christ is a blessing. From celebrating Mass, to preaching, to hearing confessions, these alumni are performing heroic acts for the laity — and they are doing so with great joy.
“After just a couple weeks of being a priest, I am so grateful to Our Lord for calling me to this vocation and giving me the grace to persevere through seminary,” says Fr. McShurley. “Celebrating Mass is the most beautiful and meaningful thing I have ever done in my life and probably ever will do. I pray that I will always see the priesthood as a precious gift and that I may be a faithful priest.”
When Christendom was first founded by Dr. Warren H. Carroll in 1977, its mission was to help form young people in order that they would have an impact in every aspect of society. This mission is what continues to bring new students year after year to campus, all searching for how they can accomplish that vision in their own lives. For these alumni priests and deacons, fulfilling that mission means impacting the lives of Christ’s Faithful in this significant way.
Ordinations are exciting, both for those being ordained and for the Christendom alumni community as a whole as well. Seeing classmates and fellow alumni take on these roles is inspiring for many and a cause for celebration and hope — both today and in the days to come.