“How will I keep my faith in college?” This question has troubled teenagers and parents alike for decades, as institutions of higher education move further into the grip of secularism. A faithful Catholic education provides a solution to this problem, giving students a robust collegiate experience while encouraging them to deepen their faith, not weaken it. This is what drew Florida native Caroline Lancaster (’21) to Christendom College in the first place — the seventh member of her family to attend the college.
Lancaster, like her six alumni siblings, hails from Seminole, Florida, just outside of Tampa Bay. For most of her life, she heard about Christendom, watching sibling after sibling attend and graduate from the school. When it came time for her to decide if she wanted to attend as well, she discovered for herself why they all chose it: the college’s “devotion to a deeply Catholic education.”
“The primary reason all seven of us chose to attend Christendom is undoubtedly the College’s devotion to a deeply Catholic education,” says Lancaster. “Something that stood out to me when I visited was how integrated the classes are. Whether it was theology or history, it was fascinating to see connections being drawn back to the faith in every subject. In addition to the education itself, I saw Christendom as a chance to challenge myself.”
Lancaster is currently a philosophy major, wrapping up her final classes before graduation in May. While she got her first taste of Christendom in 2006 at her brother Christopher’s graduation, she first fell in love with the college during the Best Week Ever high school summer program. There, she was convinced that Christendom would provide opportunities no secular college could.
“As opposed to other larger colleges or universities I looked into, I knew Christendom provided many unique opportunities. For instance, the frequent availability of the sacraments, the ability to play collegiate sports, a chance to engage with great thinkers and great literature, and the authentic Catholic culture at Christendom were all opportunities I knew I wouldn’t find anywhere else,” explains Lancaster.
Being the seventh member of her family to graduate from the same college is remarkable — not just for Caroline, but for her parents Robert and Patricia as well. They both attended a large, secular university growing up, where finding faithful Catholics was difficult at best and participating in college clubs, sports teams, or social events could be a “danger to one’s faith.” They prayed for something better for their own children and saw those prayers answered not once, not twice, but with all seven of their children.
“After spending most of our married life homeschooling our seven children, we hoped that each one of them would choose to continue their education at a place where their faith could also be nourished,” say the Lancasters. “Our prayers were answered when our oldest son chose to attend Christendom. Each son and daughter after that made the same decision after visiting the campus and attending the awesome summer program. The formation and education at Christendom more than prepared them for all their successes in life. Thankfully, all are faithful, practicing Catholics involved in a variety of ministries.”
With Caroline’s graduation imminent, the Lancasters are now looking back with gratitude at everything their family has experienced since first becoming a part of the Christendom family in 2002. They have seen two of their children go onto become attorneys, one go into the technology field, another become a music director, and another go to graduate school in Rome. Four have married fellow Christendom alumni thus far as well, blessing the Lancasters with grandchildren. Most importantly for them, all are faithful practicing Catholics to this day.
“Despite the financial obligations and distance from home, it has been all worthwhile,” say the Lancasters. “We see our sacrifices paying off in the good Catholic adults we have raised.”
Now, nearly twenty years after their oldest child first enrolled at Christendom, the youngest Lancaster will graduate this May. When she does so, the Lancasters will set a new record for Christendom, becoming the first family to send all of their children — seven — to Christendom and see all of them graduate. Other families have sent all their children to the college, but the Lancasters will become the largest family to do so, topping the previous record of six.
Caroline, who is is considering graduate school for philosophy in 2022 and is currently applying to jobs involving marketing and communications, is now part of an impressive legacy for Christendom. Her education set her up well for success, but, as she looks back at her time at Christendom, it is what drew her to the college in the first place that she remains most grateful for.
“Being the last of seven children to graduate from Christendom College is such a surreal feeling,” concludes Caroline. “Ever since I can remember, Christendom has been such a massive part of my family. I think all my siblings would agree that attending Christendom has been crucial in shaping who we are. The Christocentric education and campus life has given us the chance to solidify the faith which our parents taught us. I am extraordinarily blessed to have attended such a special place and will miss it very much.”