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Christendom College welcomed Cardinals Francis Arinze, Gerhard Müller, Edwin O’Brien, and Raymond Burke, along with many other special guests, for the college’s special 45th Anniversary and 20th Anniversary of the Junior Semester in Rome celebrations this month in Rome. The event, which included Mass celebrated by Cardinal Arinze, a special lecture, and a beautiful reception near St. Peter’s Basilica, marked two huge anniversaries for the college, as guests gathered to celebrate the college’s Christ-centered mission.

The 2022-23 academic year is a momentous one for the college, as Christendom celebrates not only its 45th Anniversary as a college but also the 20th Anniversary of the Junior Semester in Rome. First begun in 2002 by College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, the Junior Semester in Rome has enhanced the academic experience of hundreds of students since its creation, bringing the Christendom educational experience right into the very Heart of the Church.

Executive Vice President Mark Rohlena and his wife, Danielle, greeting Cardinals Raymond Burke, Gerhard Muller, and Francis Arinze.

Executive Vice President Mark Rohlena and his wife, Danielle, greeting Cardinals Raymond Burke, Gerhard Müller, and Francis Arinze.

O’Donnell returned to Rome to celebrate these two anniversaries with a special reception on March 9, welcoming Cardinals Arinze, Müller, O’Brien, and Burke — who have all received honorary doctorates from the college — along with numerous priests, religious, Christendom faculty, staff, and students currently studying in Rome for the reception.

The evening began in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica with a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Instituto Maria Santissima Bambina, celebrated by Cardinal Arinze. A longtime friend of the college who has visited the school numerous times over the years, Cardinal Arinze praised the college during his homily, thanking God for “this distinguished institution.”

Cardinal Arinze celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for all of the guests.

Cardinal Arinze celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for all of the guests.

“On a day like this, we thank and adore God for the faith, courage, and farsightedness of Dr. Warren H. Carroll, who way back in 1977, with only 26 students and $50,000, founded what has become Christendom College,” said Cardinal Arinze. “He had clear ideas on the need to run a college with an identifiable Catholic identity, a college to educate students in the saving truth of the Catholic faith, with steadfast adherence to the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church, and with focus on the time-tested liberal arts. We also today celebrate twenty years of the Junior Semester in Rome of this institution. Our college saw the wisdom of exposing each student to at least one semester in this unique city of Rome, hallowed by the martyrdom of the princely Apostles Peter and Paul. May the Lord Jesus, who is ‘the way, and the truth, and the life’ bless Christendom College and give it the grace to grow in wisdom, needed leadership and service in society and convincing witness to the Risen Christ.”

Following Mass, guests proceeded to the Instituto’s lecture hall for a talk delivered by Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., the Rector Magnificus of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum)

Following Mass, guests proceeded to the Instituto’s lecture hall for a talk delivered by Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., the Rector Magnificus of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum)

Following Mass, guests proceeded to the Instituto’s lecture hall for a talk delivered by Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., the Rector Magnificus of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum). At the conclusion of the lecture, the guests walked to the nearby Palazzo Cardinal Cesi for a special reception.

Students currently studying in Rome attended the reception, enjoying dinner with the cardinals and other guests.

Students currently studying in Rome attended the reception, enjoying dinner with the cardinals and other guests.

During the reception, remarks were delivered by Cardinal Müller, who spoke on the reality of God manifested in Creation and in the history of salvation. He further encouraged a deeper study of theology, calling it an antidote to the challenges present in modern culture.

“It is very important that, in this clash of cultures of today, we cannot say we are belonging to the Middle Ages or that we are behind of the problems of today,” said Cardinal Müller. “There is no other answer for everybody, for all the world…[than] the second person of the Trinity, Son of God, Jesus Christ, who had become man, became flesh, lived among us.”

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O’Donnell followed Cardinal Müller with an address focusing on the history of the college and its place within higher education and the world as a whole. Many universities today deprive students of an authentic education, focusing only on preparing them for careers rather than addressing them as complete human beings. Christendom, meanwhile, through its authentic, Catholic liberal arts education, continues to strive to renew the Church and heal today’s wounded culture, “one soul at a time.”

“We have sent forth in our 45 years thousands of alumni who are making a difference in the world because of our rigorous liberal arts education,” said O’Donnell. “When students come to Christendom, they’re coming to an environment that is supportive of the virtue necessary to pursue the true, the good and the beautiful. That’s what they’re made for and that will allow them to truly flourish. There are a number of really good things that are taking place right now in our Church and Christendom College is one of those great things. We’re doing everything we can to heal our broken society, one soul at a time.”

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Junior Catherine Schmidt, who is currently studying in Rome, also gave a testimony about how Christendom has impacted her personally, both through the spiritual life on campus and through the campus’ vibrantly Catholic culture.

“My favorite part about Christendom is the vibrant spiritual life and how it flows into campus life,” said Schmidt. “Every aspect of Christendom is Catholic. We’re proudly Catholic and we’re happily Catholic, whether you’re at the Commons and you’re discussing Thomas Aquinas or in the chapel receiving the Sacraments. While there are other places that have the Sacraments, not everyone lets that grace affect their life and it’s something so beautiful to see at Christendom. Joy is the hallmark of a Christian life. Joy flows from true faith and there’s true faith at Christendom. I’ve experienced the love of Christ through Christendom in such a deep and profound way that I will always have and I’m always thankful I’ll have.”

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Cardinal O’Brien closed the evening with a final set of remarks and a closing prayer, thanking God for the faith of Christendom’s founders and for His blessings upon the college.

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“We now conclude today’s celebrations, celebrations of thanksgiving to Christ our King for his blessings upon Christendom College — blessings of both 45 years on American soil and two decades of blessings here on the soil of martyrs,” said Cardinal O’Brien. “We thank our King for the faith of Christendom’s founders, for the sacrifices of her benefactors, for the guidance of her leadership. We thank Christ the King for the vibrant Christian spirit pulsating in the joyful faith of young people nourished ‘In Corde Ecclesiae,’ in sacramental life, and sacred truths. We thank our King, finally, for the thousands of devoted alumni as has been mentioned, happy to call Christendom alma mater, as along with us they pray in thanksgiving for our heavenly alma mater, for her constant intercession on behalf of our college.”

Cardinal O’Brien closed the evening with a final set of remarks and a closing prayer, thanking God for the faith of Christendom’s founders and for His blessings upon the college.

Christendom will continue its 45th Anniversary celebrations this coming April with the Dedication of the college’s new Christ the King Chapel, which will occur over the weekend of April 14-16. For more information, visit chapel.christendom.edu.

See more photos from the reception here.

See the full playlist of remarks from the reception here.

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