New York City is the largest city in the United States, with a population bigger than thirty-eight states in the country. Over eighteen million people call the “Big Apple” home, working and living within the five boroughs. With a gigantic city comes excitement but daunting realities as well. New York is faced with the same increasingly secular culture gripping the rest of the world, all concentrated in just over 300 square miles. Every sector of the city is in desperate need of Christ’s love. Thankfully, Christendom alumni have begun to make the city home for their families and careers, bringing their educational backgrounds and deep Catholic Faith with them.
Alumni Dean Dewey, Sabrina Morales, and Sr. Caroline Caritas (Kelsey Ingold) serve in a variety of different capacities in the city, from finance, to education, to protecting the dignity of every human life. Dewey credits his time at Christendom for preparing him for his role in living out a Christ-like life in New York City.
“In my career, I absolutely believe that my Catholic faith has played an important role,” says Dewey. “Whenever I speak to Christendom students or alumni about entering the world of finance, I often hear the question ‘Don’t I need a degree in finance or business?’ No—a degree in finance may open up a door or two right out of college, but what really allows you to climb ladders is the ability to critically think, write well, learn quickly, argue rationally, and—perhaps most importantly—be ethical. I am so proud to say that Christendom graduates overwhelmingly possess those qualities in abundance.”
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Dewey graduated from Christendom in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics, and he joined Silvercrest Asset Management shortly after receiving his degree. In the world of finance, Manhattan is still king, putting Dewey into the biggest field in the city. Furthermore, his company, Silvercrest, is located on the Avenue of the Americas, right next to Times Square. The area is one of the most bustling on the planet, but Dewey always feels prepared to speak about his beliefs and his faith.
“I proudly and unreservedly speak about my faith if and when the occasion presents itself,” says Dewey. “While not unique to being Catholic, the responsibilities of being a husband and father require persistent discipline, which, when applied to one’s work, will yield dividends [as well],” says Dewey, who is married to fellow alumna Anna (Van Hecke) Dewey, with whom he has four children.
Having an impact in an area that is common in so many lives is how Christendom’s mission can continue to spread in a world that so desperately needs it. Besides finance, another field that is common in every life is education—a field that Morales is heavily involved in now as a kindergarten teacher in the Bronx.
Following her graduation in 2019, Morales served as a Seton Teaching Fellow at Brilla Pax Elementary, helping to provide a free classical education during the day and an optional Catholic faith formation program after school to children in the area. After her first year, the school offered Morales the chance to return as a full-time kindergarten teacher. Serving in this important role can be challenging at times, but Morales is confident that she is making a positive difference in the lives of her students.
“Especially as a philosophy major, I was consistently challenged to support my answers by answering ‘why,’” says Morales. “It is not enough to memorize facts and spit them back out for a grade. This habit of being able to explain why I believe something or how I came to find an answer got me into the practice of understanding what I learned and supporting it with evidence. In the workplace, I work alongside teachers from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. However, I am able to carry on a respectful discourse about what I believe in a way that is clear as well as compassionate. I am still working at this and have a lot to learn, but my Christendom education laid a very strong foundation from which I was able to begin.”
With a large number of Catholic schools closing in New York City, especially in the wake of COVID-19, Morales’ school is one of the only ones left that is able to provide children with a faithful, classical education. A role that she already saw as an important one has become even more crucial within only a year, but she feels her time at Christendom prepared her for such a moment.
“I was hired not solely because of my teaching abilities but because of my ability to work in a team, to articulate my thoughts, and because of my character. More recently I was asked to lead our ‘Character Formation Sessions’ and am in the process of becoming the ‘Character Lead’ for next year. I am ever so grateful for my four years at Christendom, and the immense impact it has had on my personal, spiritual, and professional life,” says Morales.
Her students have become so important to her, and Morales sees her work as a way of protecting their dignity and the dignity of others as a result. A core facet of Christendom’s educational apostolate is ingraining in students and alumni the need to protect every human life and promote their importance throughout the world, resulting in alumni like Morales pursuing a career in education. For alumna Sr. Caroline Caritas, this facet also helped her in discerning her own vocation to the religious life, specifically to the Sisters of Life.
A philosophy major, Sr. Caroline discerned her vocation during her senior year of college and joined the Sisters of Life in New York City shortly after graduation. Like other Catholic religious communities, the Sisters of Life take the three traditional religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but they also take a fourth—to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.
Sr. Caroline spends more than four hours a day in common prayer before the Blessed Sacrament while also taking part in the daily work of the Sisters, which includes the aid and support of pregnant women at convents in New York, the promotion of pro-life causes, providing crisis pregnancy help, hope, and healing for women after an abortion, retreats, and more. Her work brings her great joy and has a tremendous impact within the city.
“We are so blessed to have this gift of life that is entrusted to us,” explains Sr. Caroline. “The Sisters really consider them-selves to be the mother to mothers of unborn children, and we have different houses in Manhattan where we walk with these women through their pregnancies, just loving them and letting them come and live with us as our guests. Our community is a contemplative, active community, so it’s important to us that the main way we build up the culture of life as Sisters of Life is through our prayer and our fasting, and that that is where all of the love and all of the energy that we put into our apostolate comes from.”
Sr. Caroline, like Dewey and Morales, is only a recent addition to the population of New York City, but her impact is already being felt in the lives of those she is able to help and serve as a sister. In a city filled with so much life, a focus on protecting and promoting the dignity of each human life as made in the Image and Likeness of God is so important. By helping one life at a time, Sr. Caroline is changing family trees within New York for generations to come.
Finance. Education. Pro-life causes. Christendom’s alumni are making a big impact in the Big Apple in each of these fields, bringing the light of Christ to the people of New York City as a result. Christendom’s founder, Dr. Warren Carroll, often said that “one man can make a difference.” In each of these fields, these alumni are fulfilling that call. Over 300 square miles is a lot of ground to cover, but Dewey, Morales, and Sr. Caroline Caritas are using their Christendom educations to create a ripple effect of Christ’s love, making New York a better, more hopeful place.