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It is an unfortunate reality in modern day America that more and more college-aged students are leaving the Catholic Faith. This reality is a concerning one for young Catholics, who want to study at college but also not lose the Faith they grew up with. William Connor, a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was one of these students, finding himself at a “Catholic” college that was not conducive to his studies or his Faith last fall. Rather than settling for anything less, Connor made the difficult decision to transfer out and find the college he was looking for all along — discovering it, at long last, in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Connor, who previously spent four years in the Air Force, spent only one semester at his last college. According to him, he originally chose it because of its proximity to home and its strong military education benefits. Within a short amount of time, however, Connor discovered that the school’s Catholic identity was “minuscule” at best.

“I soon realized that true Catholicism played a minuscule part in the life of this school,” says Connor. “This school supported and facilitated lifestyles, views, and ideals that were contrary to my own views and the Church’s. This environment was not conducive to proper learning. I felt I wasn’t getting the best education I could get — I felt I was wasting my time there. After completing one semester I knew I wouldn’t be happy, so after careful thought and prayer I decided to leave.”

Connor saw other students exchange the ideals and traditions they grew up with for the empty promises of secularism and refused to do the same. Quickly, he began his search for a school that would be conducive to proper learning. His answer came early on, when he discovered that a local FSSP priest, Fr. Zachary Akers, was a Christendom College alumnus.

“I figured if he went there it must be a solid school. So I started researching Christendom and was quite impressed,” relates Connor.

Connor previously served for four years in the Air Force, deciding after leaving the military that he wanted to attend a Catholic college.

Supported by his parents, Connor dug more into what Christendom had to offer, both in the classroom and outside of it and decided to make a visit to campus. After being impressed with the campus, the staff, and the Mass, he decided to apply and was accepted.

“It seems to me that Christendom College is one of the last bastions of Catholic education left in this country,” says Connor. “I know there are many like-minded young people who are looking for an authentic Catholic experience and education, but struggle to find it.”

When Christendom was founded in 1977, it was done so in response to the rapid secularization of Catholic education in the United States. Christendom was meant to stand against this tide as a place where students could still receive an authentically Catholic liberal arts education, free of federal funding and free of secular ideals.

Since the founding of the college, students have transferred to Christendom over and over again, finding at the school exactly what they were looking for in the first place. Connor is the latest in that long line of students, eager for a liberal arts education rooted in the truths of the Catholic Faith rather than pitted against them.

This month, Connor will begin his next academic journey at Christendom, with the goal of majoring in philosophy. The challenging education is already enticing to him, as is living in a community where Christ lies at the center. His journey to find a school that was fully Catholic in its culture and equally challenging in its academics may have been a winding one, but the end result is what he hoped and prayed for.

“A school like Christendom is a refreshing step in the right direction. It gives me great hope for the future of our world and our Church,” concludes Connor.

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