The world needs holy, healthy, and happy marriages more than ever. Fortunately, Christendom alumni frequently pursue this vocation and start families of their own, equipped with a well-formed understanding of the sacrament of marriage. Alumni Ian and Annie (Speer) Heisler recently joined the ranks of hundreds of other Christendom couples on August 15, becoming the five-hundredth alumni married couple — a momentous day for them and for Christendom College.
Christendom was founded to prepare lay people to positively impact the culture by living out their faith in their vocations. This mission is what attracted Ian and Annie Heisler to Christendom in the first place and aided them as they discerned their marriage vocation.
“Christendom leads to so many marriages because it has a strong Catholic culture,” say the Heislers. “The culture has not only led to 500 marriages, but also many vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Christendom’s culture is founded in the Catholic belief that God has a plan for every person, a vocation, and the formation one receives at Christendom helps each individual actualize God’s plan for his vocation.”
The Heislers met as students at the college, with Annie graduating in 2019 and Ian in 2020. As students, they learned in the classroom how to think philosophically about life, while in the chapel they attended hundreds of Masses together as a couple. Both the education and spiritual life at Christendom helped them pursue personal growth and learn how to give the total gift of self.
When they received the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, they did not realize they were their alma mater’s five-hundredth alumni marriage. But at discovering this, they were humbled yet not surprised that so many couples before them discovered their vocation at the college.
“It is awesome to know that Christendom is a place that fosters so many strong vocations among good Catholics. It is not too surprising many alumni have gotten married, since the people that attend Christendom are like-minded, in the sense that they are all there to grow and become well-rounded Catholics,” said the Heislers. “You may think that because there are so many alumni marriages we would feel like we are just a drop in the bucket, and we very may well be a drop in the bucket of total Christendom alumni marriages, but it’s a bucket we want to be a part of and never take for granted.”
Mark (’15) and Catherine (Schneider) Turner (’16) feel the same. After years of friendship followed by working together as staff members at Christendom, Mark and Catherine were married earlier this year, and now live and work in Louisiana. Looking back, the Turners are grateful for how their Christendom education has enriched their marriage.
“Christendom cultivates minds to look at our lives as being part of something greater than ourselves,” say the Turners. “Being a small part of the unfolding of history and a journey toward an ultimate end is a perspective that we learn while at Christendom College. This culture at Christendom facilitates the building of strong friendships formed in pursuit of the virtuous life. Finding a spouse to spend the rest of one’s life with in the shared pursuit of the virtuous life is a goal of those educated at Christendom and finding that person through Christendom is frequent.”
Christendom is designed to help students become confident, well-informed Catholics, ready to make a difference in today’s world. From discussing vocations in the classroom, to witnessing the Catholic marriages of faculty and staff members, to opportunities to speak with priests and religious, students have numerous opportunities to explore their vocational calling while at Christendom.
Alumni Chris and Elizabeth (Sartor) Foeckler (’12) believe that these very opportunities were integral in their own discernment of marriage. The Foecklers met as students and were married in 2013. After nearly a decade of marriage, they still see the fruits of the spiritual growth they underwent at Christendom.
“The ability to receive the Sacraments daily through Mass and Confession is huge, not just in the vocational discernment process, but also in storing up those graces. Marriage is incredible, but it isn’t without challenges, and so if you are starting from a place of sanctity and a life of grace, that definitely goes a long way in living out a holy marriage,” say the Foecklers. “I think we all owe Dr. and Mrs. Carroll a huge debt of gratitude for bringing so many of us — who may not have otherwise met — together. In a big way, restoring all things in Christ starts in the family, so fostering lots of good Catholic marriages is a great way to go about the mission of the college: restoring all things in Christ, starting with marriage.”
Since Ian and Annie Heisler were married in August, three more alumni couples have also been married. Despite all the tumult of this year, twenty-one alumni couples have gotten married, with more to be wed later this year. In a world that so desperately needs the love and example of faith-filled spouses, these married couples are prepared to impact the culture for the better through their families, raising up the next generation of Catholics and bearing witness to Christ’s unconditional love.