College is a time of great growth in many aspects of life for Catholic students, including the spiritual life. For the students of Christendom College, the college itself offers many opportunities to grow in this area, both on and off campus. This year, through the generosity of The Mccaddin-Mcquirk Foundation, the college received money for helping students actively discern a vocation to the priesthood, resulting in a group of men visiting Clear Creek Abbey over fall break.

Tom McFadden, the college’s Vice President for Enrollment & Student Success, helped organize the week-long visit to Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma – America’s only contemplative Benedictine monastery. Currently, two alumni are monks there – Fr. John McFadden, OSB, ’13, and Br. Stephen Foeckler, OSB, ‘17. 

During fall break, McFadden and 11 students flew to Arkansas, rented a van, and spent the week of break at the abbey, living with the monks, working, praying, and eating with them, and following the monastic routine of the community. After their return, several of the students remarked on how the trip helped them understand what monasticism truly meant and experience monastic life in a unique way. 

Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma.

Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma.

“The trip changed my perspective on monastic life,” says freshman Thomas Crnkovich. “I was able to see how one could enjoy such a life, whereas before I went, I could not understand how anyone could live a seemingly monotonous life.

Crnkovich also noted that seeing and living with the monks for a week helped him to understand the history of how monasteries shaped so much of Western civilization. 

Sophomore Cody Tucker grew in appreciation for the “critical role” that monasteries play in the life of the Church. Tucker also admitted that “the monks showed me a life of prayer and penance that is truly fulfilling, despite — or perhaps because of — the difficulties such a life entails.” Tucker says that the visit strengthened his prayer life, especially through the Divine Office, and helped him to appreciate the value of silence throughout the day. 

Silence, which is so rare in our media-filled culture, is a cornerstone in the spiritual life and a fundamental foundation for monasticism. Crnkovich remarked that the trip helped him to “understand how God is found, not in the noise of this world but rather in the silence of our hearts, for our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”

For Crnkovich, Tucker, and their fellow students, the trip was a unique experience that opened their minds to what monastic life is truly like and offered the opportunity to discern a beautiful vocation that is so needed in our broken world. Visits like this one are not isolated opportunities for Christendom students. Through the generosity of donors, staff, and student-run initiatives, Christendom students are able to attend vocational retreats, visit monasteries, and meet countless priests and religious that the college invites to campus throughout the year.

25 of the college's 104 alumni priests.

25 of the college’s 104 alumni priests.

While Christendom was founded primarily to form laymen and women who would then go out to impact every level of society for the better, the college’s vibrant Catholic atmosphere has helped produce many vocations over the past 46+ years. So far, the college has produced 104 priests, 53 sisters, 5 brothers, 3 transitional deacons, 1 permanent deacon, 2 consecrated virgins and 11 men currently studying for the priesthood, along with 564 alumna-to-alumnus marriages. The abundance of vocations among Christendom alumni bears witness to the beautiful atmosphere that the college offers and the spiritual fruits that God has showered on the college’s work to restore all things in Christ.

Contributed by Helen Davis ’25. 

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