“Our society needs those who will stand up to defend what is true, what is good, and what is righteous.”
These are the words of Ted Eidem, an alumnus of Christendom from the Class of 2000. His words, in many ways, sum up the mission of Christendom—to form laypeople to go out and restore all things in Christ. They also sum up Eidem’s thoughts on why his chosen profession—a police officer—is so important. He, along with alumni firefighters Brian Pelletier and Hannah Gordon, put their education into action every day as first responders, giving generously to others in a time of great need.
Whenever Eidem, Pelletier, or Gordon answer a call, it is often on one of the hardest days in a person’s life. Whether it is a crime or an accident, first responders are tasked with serving in chaotic situations every day, making their professions some of the most difficult available to people. This begs the question: why would anyone want to pursue these careers? For Eidem, Gordon, and Pelletier, it is because of just that: the opportunity to serve others and show them love, illumined by the light of faith.
Each has his or her own story about the inspiration to pursue such a career. Eidem’s story started right in the Christendom classroom. A political science and economics major, he was going over case law about criminal investigations in his American Constitutional Law class and found it fascinating.
“These issues society faces—of respecting individual freedoms all the while keeping chaos and evil away from the innocent—is paramount in a just society,” says Eidem. “I felt called to a career in policing in order to pursue these ideals of justice and truth, safety, and freedom.”
Following his graduation in 2000, Eidem followed his calling and began serving with the Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia, staying there three years before moving to Kentucky. For almost sixteen years now, Eidem has served with the Louisville Metro Police, currently working with the Public Integrity Unit, which handles criminal investigations of metro government employees.
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A regular part of Eidem’s life is helping people on their toughest days, but he believes that his time at Christendom prepared him well to handle these moments with Christlike charity.
“Police work can be emotionally exhausting. Especially in the most trying times, relying on your faith to remain focused on what is true and good is a must,” says Eidem. “With the spiritual formation from Christendom, it helps to respond to situations in Christlike charity by seeing that all involved, even the most hardened and spiteful people, are children of God.”
For nineteen years now, he has given his all to serve his community and make society a better place. It is not always easy, but it is always important.
“We are all deserving to live peacefully and to live free,” explains Eidem. “Public safety and protection of liberty is one of the essential functions of government. Elected legislators enact laws to this end, and law enforcement is there to uphold these ideals.”
Learning how to stand up for the true, the good, and the beautiful is part of Christendom’s educational mission, and each alumnus or alumna leaves armed with the tools necessary to do just that in their profession. Gordon, who became a firefighter just last year, discerned her career because of that mission.
In her heart, she always knew she wanted to help improve lives in a hands-on way in her career, and initially went into the mental health field after graduation, using her bachelor’s degree in philosophy to assist people. After a number of years, she discerned a calling to be a firefighter instead, inspired by their confidence and proficiency at attending to patients.
“I value this job because I have the opportunity to serve people in crises,” says Gordon. “I never know what call I am going to get, and it’s a unique career to be able to help people on their worst days. I look at my job as an opportunity to share Christ and a Christian heart with the multitude of random people I meet. It’s such a humbling career because I am constantly learning how to improve and what I need to do better. I think I end up learning more every day at work than I have in any other job I have ever had.”
Gordon is stationed at Loudoun County Fire Station, answering a variety of calls throughout the week. No matter the situation, she strives to show each patient the care they deserve, following Christ’s example of the Good Samaritan.
“I strive to remain calm and empathetic to my patients during calls,” says Gordon. “It can definitely be challenging to be patient with everyone during chaotic, stressful calls. I just keep reminding myself throughout the day that the ultimate goal is to help each person I come into contact with and leave them better than I found them. The more I practice my faith and improve myself, the better I will be able to serve my patients.”
Leaving people in a better situation during such a traumatic time is a noble goal, and one that inspires Pelletier as well.
“I try to see our patients as the sick, the imprisoned, and the strangers of our society,” says Pelletier. “They are often calling us on the worst day of their lives, and all they want is for us to make it right so that things can get back to normal.”
Pelletier, who studied political science and economics at Christendom, followed a family tradition when he pursued a career as a firefighter—his grandfather and several great uncles had served as firefighters in New York City. Today, he answers calls primarily in Woodbridge, Virginia, while also serving on a volunteer rescue squad in Culpeper, Virginia, with his wife and fellow alumna Andie Pelletier.
“To me, the first responder community is one of multiple components that help hold our society together,” says Pelletier. “Ultimately, we’re trying to do the most good for the most people, often under unfavorable circumstances. We are helping to maintain strong, functioning communities that have a higher quality of life and lower mortality rates than ever before.”
Like Eidem and Gordon, Pelletier is confronted by people going through trauma on almost a daily basis. He and his fellow firefighters do everything they can to physically fix problems, but sometimes nothing more can be done than offering support to victims—especially spiritual support. Pelletier can recall an incident in which an elderly woman passed away peacefully in her sleep, and he wanted to help the grieving family however he could. He offered to call a chaplain for them, and upon finding out they were also Catholic, he requested a priest come to their house as well. Such an incident is an example of how he responds to traumatic situations through the lens of faith, making lives better as a result.
“In a small way, we hope it brought comfort to this family, even though there was nothing we could do for their loved one,” says Pelletier. “First response is about contributing to something greater than yourself. There are few causes greater than serving the least of our brethren.”
Serving communities and saving lives are inspiring missions, and ones that help unite police officers and firefighters across the nation. As Pelletier puts it, they are serving “in the trenches, getting our hands dirty in service to our fellow man.” It is their way of going out and restoring all things in Christ.