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Christendom College launched its 2023-24 academic year over the weekend of August 18-20, welcoming 172 new students to campus.

Christendom College launched its 2023-24 academic year over the weekend of August 18-20, welcoming 172 new students to campus. In his opening address to begin the academic year, College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell encouraged the student body to deepen and grow in the Catholic Faith over the course of the coming year, as together they seek to “restore all things in Christ.”

“My prayer and my hope for each of you, as you go forth from this assembly today, is that you may continue to be not afraid and open wide the doors of Christ to your hearts,” said O’Donnell. “Continue to bear witness to that faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints. Don’t get caught up in the chaos going on in the world — you have the Faith. Let it deepen, grow, nurture, and develop in your soul. Study hard and pray hard. My love and prayers will be with you this year. Together let’s have a great semester.”

The college welcomed 172 new students to campus for this academic year, including 164 freshmen, 4 former students who chose to re-enroll at the college, and 4 transfer students. Furthermore, the college has now reached its 550 total student body size cap. The college will stay at this size to ensure that the college’s education remains on a humane scale, maintaining the personalized attention Christendom is known for.

Demand was higher than ever for a Christendom education this year, with a waiting list of qualified students implemented for the third straight year. However, unlike in past years, no one from the waiting list was able to be offered a spot, due to demand and limited space.

Those 172 new students who will be on campus this fall hail from 33 U.S. states, as well as from New Zealand and Canada. The students achieved an average SAT score of 1260, with 76% of the class earning academic scholarships from the college. In addition, the class includes multiple high school valedictorians and a Cardinal Newman Society Essay Contest-winner as well. The college’s Best Week Ever (BWE) high school summer program also continues to be one of the strongest pathways to becoming a Christendom student, with 76% of the freshman class attending BWE — a new record for the college.

The Diocese of Arlington’s Bishop Michael Burbidge celebrated the opening Mass of the Holy Spirit for the college community in the college’s new Christ the King Chapel.

The Diocese of Arlington’s Bishop Michael Burbidge celebrated the opening Mass of the Holy Spirit for the college community in the college’s new Christ the King Chapel.

The student body officially began the 2023-24 academic year on August 20, with the Diocese of Arlington’s Bishop Michael Burbidge celebrating the Mass of the Holy Spirit for the college community in the college’s new Christ the King Chapel. During the Mass, the entire college’s faculty made an Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in the presence of the bishop, as they have done every year since the college’s founding.

During the Mass, the entire college’s faculty made an Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in the presence of the bishop, as they have done every year since the college’s founding.

During the Mass, the entire college’s faculty made an Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in the presence of the bishop, as they have done every year since the college’s founding.

During his opening-of-the-year address to the student body, O’Donnell shared that the college had another strong year of fundraising, with an annual fund record of over $5 million raised. Approximately 5,000 benefactors stepped forward to help fund scholarships, financial aid, and also to fund building projects, such as the completion of the college’s new chapel.

O’Donnell also announced new additions to the college’s staff during his address, including Claire Mense ’23 as the college’s new Employer Relations Coordinator and Kaelan Damitz ’23 as the college’s new Academic Success Coach. In the college’s Business Office, Sarah Scarchilli ‘23 has been hired as the college’s new Financial Aid Officer, while Samuel Morales ’20 and Therese Cruz ’23 will be joining the college’s Student Life Office as Residence Directors.

In addition, Makayla Paradis ’23 was hired as the new Assistant Director of Student Activities, while John-Paul DeJak ’23 will be serving as the new Men’s Residence Director for the college’s Semester in Rome. In the college’s Advancement Office, Gwyenth Sawicki ’23 was hired as Advancement Events Coordinator, Jacob Stevens ’23 was hired as Gift Planning Coordinator, Sean Hilbert ’23 was hired as Advancement Administrative and Campaign Specialist, and Rich Hanley was hired as Alumni Relations Coordinator.

Significant improvements were made to campus buildings as well over the summer, including the conversion of the college’s original Christ the King Chapel into the new Old Chapel Hall. O’Donnell delivered his opening-of-the-year address in the hall, which will be used for lectures, special events, and more this academic year. Other improvements were made to campus as well, including a complete repainting of all residence halls and a makeover of the bathrooms in St. Edmund Campion Hall. The wooded area between St. Catherine’s Hall and St. John the Evangelist Library was also cleared of brush, with benches, lighting, and more planned for the space over the course of the fall semester.

The college's original Christ the King Chapel was converted into Old Chapel Hall over the summer. It will be used for lectures, special events, and more.

The college’s original Christ the King Chapel was converted into Old Chapel Hall over the summer. It will be used for lectures, special events, and more.

The college will also be hosting a number of special events this fall, including a weeklong Eucharistic Mission on campus to begin the academic year, a conference on J.R.R. Tolkien in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his passing, and much more.

To conclude his address, O’Donnell announced that the college will be sending 52 students to Rome for the college’s Semester in Rome this fall.

This year also marks O’Donnell’s final year as president of Christendom College, following his announcement of his intention to retire at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. The search for a new president is currently underway, with updates expected in the coming months.

View O’Donnell’s reflection below:

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