Christendom College celebrated its forty-fourth commencement on May 13, awarding one hundred and fourteen undergraduate degrees to the Class of 2023. President Emeritus Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center delivered this year’s Commencement Address and was awarded the college’s St. Thomas More Medal for Defense of the Faith and Holy Mother Church, while the Diocese of Arlington’s Bishop Michael Burbidge was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
Haas began his Commencement Address by praising the graduates, the parents, and the college’s faculty and staff for their hard work and sacrifices that made this day possible.
“Christendom College is truly a light to the nation,” said Haas. “It is renowned for its scholarship and for its fidelity to the Catholic Faith. We congratulate all of you students today who have worked so hard for your diplomas, and we congratulate your parents and other family members for giving you support through what has certainly been a challenging, demanding, joy-filled and, I’m sure, exhilarating journey. Today, we look forward to the future with hope.”
Haas spoke passionately about the issues graduates will be facing following graduation, including abortion, rampant secularism, and a culture that has turned its back on its Judeo-Christian tradition. He then challenged the graduates to go out into the world and use everything they learned at Christendom to truly “restore all things in Christ.”
“You Christendom graduates are equipped to confront today’s tyrants by looking to the example of St. Thomas More and invoking his prayers, and because of the unparalleled education you’ve received here in the Shenandoah Valley,” said Haas. “Your task will be to help reorder the world and bring it once more into alignment with what God created it to be. The challenges are there, but we can be of good cheer because we are Catholics…you have been formed, prepared, and educated for this moment here at Christendom. Through the rigorous and faithful program of this college, you have been truly educated, and you, the parents, should never regret the sacrifices you made for your children’s education here at Christendom. Dear graduates of Christendom, dare to be great.”
On Friday, May 12, Bishop Burbidge, along with the college chaplaincy and multiple alumni priests, celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass for graduates and their families. At the Graduation Dinner following, Bishop Burbidge was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters for his outstanding leadership of the college’s home diocese. In his address, Bishop Burbidge thanked the college for warmly welcoming him over the past six years and called the college a “treasure.”
“This is truly a great honor and a privilege to accept this degree, I am very humbled,” said Bishop Burbidge. “Ever since I arrived here in the Diocese of Arlington, I have felt tremendously welcomed by Dr. and Mrs. O’Donnell and by the Christendom community. Over the past six years, that relationship has been strengthened with many beautiful events and gatherings here and, most recently, with the tremendous privilege of dedicating the new Christ the King Chapel. Today, this relationship is solidified even more so by accepting this honorary degree. This degree will serve as a reminder of my great gratitude for this college, which is a treasure to this diocese and to the Universal Church. It will also be a daily reminder that I will be praying continually for the Christendom College community, that the Lord will continue to shower His graces upon you, your great work, and your great ministry.”
Closing the Commencement Ceremonies on Saturday, College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell delivered his charge to the graduates.
“During your four years, you have embraced in a profound way the true, the good, and the beautiful,” said O’Donnell. “That has led you, because of the beautiful union of faith and reason here at Christendom, to a deeper encounter with the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You are a class that loves deeply. Love, of course, is what makes us human. But love is also what makes us saints…My prayer and charge to you today is to take to heart what He says to each and every one of you: unless you become like little children, you cannot see the Kingdom of God. If you do that, with God’s grace, it will make you more confiding, more trustful, and will also make you more loving. With God’s grace, never lose the childlike wonder that you manifested throughout your time here, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven. Know that our prayers and hearts go with each and every one of you. God bless you all.”
One hundred and fourteen bachelor of arts degrees were awarded to the members of the Class of 2023, including: Gerard Adams, John Adams, Dylan Aiello, Anna Berg-Arnold, Maggie Black, Mary Black, Michael Blank, Kurt Bourget, Fiona Briggs, Philip Brown, Christina Buehler, Christina Burke, Abigail Butek, Erica Christie, Grace Clark, Isabel Cleary, Maria Coffey, Joseph Cole, Caroline Connell, Bridget Crnkovich, Therese Cruz, Isabel Cumbelich, Kaelan Damitz, Colin Deighan, Erin Deighan, John Paul DeJak, Thomas Donahoe, Joseph Dotson, Joseph Ellefson, Gabriel Fewkes, Joshua Forbes, Luke Foyle, Hannah Freivald, Zoe Frisch, Charles Fuller, Madigan Gannon, Sebastian Ghering, Rachel Giaccio, Chelsea Gilday, Daniel Gillio, Hannah Gjolberg, Zoe Grimm, Claire Guernsey, John Paul Gutschke, Halina Hibl, Regina Hibl, Sean Hilbert, Julia Hill, Zachary Hsu, Sofia Hudson, Marissa Hund, Thomas James, Juliana Jamieson, Rebecca Jaynes, David Johnson, Rebecca Kaminski, Donald Kelly, Michelle Kelly, Joseph Kokes, Margaret Kolesar, Teresa Lagano, Mary Lueck, Javier Madan, Joseph Madigan, Mary Maggio, Cassandra Marilley, Catherine McCaughey, Mary McCloskey, Caroline McDermott, Mary McDonough, Anna McDuffie, Helen McGuire, Claire Mense, Ryan Mumford, Aganze Nkere, Katherine Noe, Elizabeth Nussio, Sebastian O’Keefe, Finnbarr O’Reilly, Therese Ohotnicky, Elizabeth Ostrowski, Makayla Paradis, John Pascoe, John Pelczar, Emily Piorkowski, Rachel Riordan, Thomas Santschi, Gwyneth Sawicki, Sarah Scarchilli, Joseph Scarlata, Ryan Schantz, Cyril Schaper, Trevor Scott, Alice Seeley, Dominic Smith, Johnathan Stahl, Lucy Stanford, Jacob Stevens, Matteo Stocco, Katherine Summers, Patrick Switzer, Philomena Swope, Grace Tipton, Celine Townsend, Lucia Ulizko, Mary Van Alstine, Maria Vicente, Lucia Vicenzino, Sean Walker, Katherine Walz, Sarah Weichert, Matthew Westin, Noah Wollersheim, and Matthew Wright.