Christendom College has had 45 years to create and nurture many traditions and activities that are beloved by students.
From Orientation Weekend, to painting the rock, to attending Christmas Formal, to singing the Salve Regina, you can get involved with so much as a student.
Some of these traditions were established in 1977, others more recently. Christendom relies on its students to continue to enjoy and improve these aspects of the Christendom College educational experience each year.
Find Your Tradition.
Our academic program is renowned for its rigor and integration, but students sometimes want more than what they receive in the classroom. The college offers students many extra-curricular opportunities (often led by professors) to mature in the knowledge and love of the Catholic liberal arts.
Major Speakers Program
Major Speaker is one of the most important functions at the college, with renowned speakers visiting campus for an exclusive lecture twice a semester. Past speakers have included Dr. Scott Hahn, Francis Cardinal Arinze, and others. Major Speaker is typically held in the Commons.
Faith and Reason Lecture Series
The Faith & Reason Lecture Series was born of the spirit of Faith & Reason, the academic journal of Christendom College. The mission of the journal and this series is to create an educated Catholic laity, a laity in love with all that is good, beautiful, and true.
Each year, one of the College’s academic departments hosts two lectures. Also included in this series is the St. Thomas Aquinas Lecture Series, which hosts a distinguished speaker each year on or around the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28) to speak on a philosophical or theological topic.
At a “disputatio”, a faculty member disputes a popular theory and offers reasons why for his argument. These public disputations are another opportunity for students to extend their learning outside the classroom. They are typically held in Kilian’s Café or in the Chester-Belloc Room.
Hosted by Mr. Brown and theology professor Joseph Arias, this is another catered lunch where students discuss a reading of St. Thomas Aquinas with the faculty of the college. This is typically held in Kilian’s Café.
A quodlibet is an open forum, where students are able to ask a panel of faculty any academic questions they so wish. Hosted by Mr. Brown, the event occurs several times a year in Kilian’s Café or in the Chester-Belloc Room of Regina Coeli Hall.
“Principles” is a publication of Christendom College that features speakers writing on a variety of trending topics. The Principles Lectures Series is an extension of that, and features a speaker giving an in-person talk on a trending topic. These live lectures are typically given in Kilian’s Café.
Senior Thesis Defenses
Seniors in the theology, political science and economics, English language and literature, mathematics and natural science, and philosophy departments deliver oral defenses of their senior theses at the end of the fall and spring semesters. The whole community is invited to these events, with students, faculty, and the staff getting to hear about the complex projects seniors have been working on.
St. Thomas Aquinas Lectures
The St. Thomas Aquinas Lecture Series hosts a distinguished speaker each year on or around the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28) to speak on a philosophical or theological topic.
Each department at Christendom hosts a number of lectures each semester, covering a variety of topics within their respective fields.
Oath of Fidelity
At the beginning of each academic year, the entire faculty takes an Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
Latin Lunch Table
The Classics department hosts a “Latin Lunch” in the Commons each week, where students and faculty gather to speak and discuss a work in Latin over lunch.
Parliamentary debates are hosted by the Chester-Belloc Debate Society. A student-run organization, the Chester-Belloc Debate Society is an opportunity for students to engage in parliamentary-style debate with their peers, alumni, and even faculty. Debates are held several times a semester in the Chester-Belloc room of Regina Coeli Hall, and all attendees are required to dress up for the debates.
The Student Activities Council (SAC) hosts many dances throughout the year. These dances are typically held in St. Lawrence Commons, but have been known to happen in front of the library, in the gym, or even off-campus. Sometimes they are themed dances. while other times they are more formal or relaxed. Take your pick!
Dr. Cuddeback Barn Dance
This dance is held at Dr. John Cuddeback’s barn, out in the Shenandoah Valley. Dr. Cuddeback himself teaches the various forms of contra and swing dancing, with the entire college typically present at the event.
Swing n’ Sundaes is a student run club that meets several times each semester in the Commons to offer swing lessons to interested students. Many students come out to the event, which also features ice cream.
Homecoming Dance with Live Orchestra
This dance is significant due to alumni being present but also because of a live swing band. Homecoming Dance is packed, but the music and nostalgia make it one of the best dances of the year. It is typically held in the Commons.
Held on or around October 31, the Halloween Dance is put on by the freshmen class president and the rest of the class. Students are invited to wear costumes for the event, and often features a costume contest. The dance is held typically in the Commons.
Christmas Formal is one of the biggest events of the year, with SAC creating an elaborate set in Crusader Gymnasium set around a certain theme. The set, which typically takes a week to create, transports guests to a different world for the evening. The event features a catered dinner beforehand, along with a talk from Dr. O’Donnell. Following dinner, the final Kris Kringle gifts are exchanged among students, before seniors, faculty, and staff adjourn to the second floor of the Gym for cocktails. The Christmas Formal Dance begins soon after.
Welcome Back Dance
Held upon the return of students to campus, the Welcome Back Dance has taken on many different themes over the years, depending on which student is running it. In the past, it has been a “Roaring 20’s” Dance, a “Black and White” dance, and more.
Sadie Hawkins Dance
An annual tradition in the spring, this dance shakes things up by making the women of campus have to ask the men to dance. The night typically begins with a date off-campus, before the couples return in elaborate costumes for the dance.
Dance Under the Stars
Put on by the senior class, the Dance Under the Stars is one of the final dances of the year. This dance, via its namesake, occasionally happens outside of the Commons, but it often takes place inside the Commons, with stars decorating the ceiling.
One of the biggest events of the academic year, Spring Formal sees Christendom students get decked out in their fanciest outfits for an evening of dancing and socializing. This event is the only dance held off-campus, with the location changing every year.
The graduation dance is one of the biggest of the year, with a live swing band performing during the dance. Graduates and their families join the rest of the student body for the evening, which also features a viewing of the annual Senior Slideshow.
Performance & Talent Shows
Christendom students have a lot of talent — singing, dancing, acting, comedy, juggling, instrument playing, and everything in between. There are many opportunities for students to showcase their many talents for the good of the community.
Pub Nights are events put on by Residence Life where students who are over the age of 21 can enjoy free drinks with their peers. For students under the age of 21, the events are still very enjoyable, thanks to live music, karaoke, trivia, and more.
Senior Benefit Concert
Held during Parents’ Weekend, the Senior Benefit Concert features a huge variety of musical talent on the stage in the Commons. Parents and students pay a minimal entrance fee to view the concert, with all of the proceeds going towards the senior class gift.
St. Cecilia's Night
A musical event held in the fall on or around the Feast of St. Cecilia, St. Cecilia’s Night is a talent show of sorts, featuring students performing a variety of musical acts. This event is typically held in the Commons.
Theatrical Productions and Musicals
Once a semester, the Christendom Players theater group holds a theatrical production, typically a play in the fall and a musical in the spring. These productions feature impressive set design, elaborate costumes, and layered performances from the students involved.
Cup O' Coeli
Cup O’ Coeli is an annual musical talent night that is held in the spring, featuring a variety of musical performances from students. It used to be held in Regina Coeli hall (thus the name), but it has been increasingly held on the first floor of the Library in recent years due to space.
A great tradition at Christendom, Coffee House is a night of comedic talent live on stage in the Commons. Students break out their best comedy routines for the event, which also features a few videos — including one from the students in Rome in the spring.
A Cappella Competition
This singing competition is held during Dorm Wars Weekend, with the panel of judges consisting of beloved faculty and staff members. Team members perform a song a cappella on stage, with the best performances earning the top prize.
Mystery Dinner Theater
Mystery Dinner Theater is an elaborate comedic production put on by the Senior Class every year as a fundraiser for the senior class gift. Written, directed, and performed entirely by the students, the show is an interactive whodunit, with audience members encouraged to participate in helping to discover who the killer is. A delicious meal is also served to those attendance, cooked by students.
Swing/Waltz Dance Competition
This Dorm Wars competition brings out the best dancers on campus, as they show off their swing and waltz skills and compete for the top prize. This event is typically held in the Commons.
Crusader Chamber Orchestra Concerts
The Crusader Chamber Orchestra seeks to bring together the most talented classical musicians at Christendom College. The Orchestra may be small, but it is a tight-knit group that loves to have fun inside and outside of rehearsal. Through rehearsals, end-of-semester concerts, and fundraisers, the Orchestra aims to provide students with the opportunity to use and develop their musical talents.
Outside of all of our varsity sports games, the college also hosts a variety of other athletic events that bring the whole community together or allow students to stay in shape, have fun, and be competitive.
Upper-Under Flag Football Game
An annual tradition at Christendom, the upperclassmen take on the new freshmen class in a competitive game of flag football. This is typically held on Crusader Field.
Students vs. Alumni Tournaments
Alumni return to campus to take on current students each year, with men’s and women’s alumni vs. students soccer games occurring in the spring. This coming year, the first alumni vs. students rugby game will take place in the fall.
East vs. West Flag Football Game
This annual game usually occurs during Homecoming Weekend as the capper to the weekend. Men who sign up to play are divided according to the state in which they were born — thus, East and West. The event usually features games for children and big crowds. The game is typically played on Crusader Field.
Powderpuff Flag Football Game
This annual game is played between the freshmen/junior women of campus and the sophomores/seniors. It is typically held on Crusader Field.
Thomas S. Vander Woude Golf Tournament
This annual golf tournament is held in honor of former athletic director Thomas S. Vander Woude, who gave his life for his son. Held at Blue Ridge Shadows, the tournament draws many alumni, faculty, staff, and current students, with all the money from the tournament going towards the Thomas S. Vander Woude Athletic Scholarship.
Dorm Wars Regatta Competition
This Dorm Wars competition features teams racing across the Shenandoah River in canoes to see which team is the fastest.
The Boxing Bout, put on by Christ’s Cross boxing club, is a new annual event at the college. The event features at least four boxing matches between members of the boxing club, with the matches occurring on a ring in the middle of Crusader Gymnasium.
Typically hosted by philosophy professor Mike Brown, the cornhole tournament typically takes place in the fall and features teams made up of students, faculty, and staff.
The athletic department hosts several intramural sports during each semester, giving students the opportunity to compete without having to make a varsity sports team. The games, which include volleyball, dodgeball, whiffleball, ultimate frissbee, soccer, and basketball, are held in Crusader Gymnasium and on Crusader Fields.
Canoeing/Kayaking on the Shenandoah
Students can canoe or kayak on the Shenandoah River throughout the year, whether in Christendom’s backyard or on the annual Canoe Trip. That event, hosted by SAC, typically happens early in the fall semester.
Hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains
Due to its proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mr. Brown and others often take students on hikes in the Shenandoah in the fall and spring. Occasionally during these hikes, Mass is celebrated at the top of the mountain.
Cultural & Holiday Events
Celebrating many of the Church’s great Saints and our Catholic patrimony is a key element to the Christendom experience.
St. Patrick's Day Dinner & Festivities
St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest annual events on campus, thanks to the enthusiasm and personal participation of Dr. O’Donnell. The evening begins with an Irish dinner in the Commons, followed by an elaborate evening of processions, bagpipes, musical performances from Dr. O’Donnell and others, and even Irish dancing live on stage.
Oktoberfest Dinner & Festivities
Oktoberfest is another great tradition at Christendom, started by professor emeritus Dr. Robert Rice. Held in the fall, the event is a celebration of German culture, inspired by the Oktoberfest celebration that occurs in Germany every year. Typically held in front of the Commons, students enjoy German food, wear German garb, and enjoy special Oktoberfest-themed games.
Feast of Christ the King
The Feast of Christ the King is an important one on campus — it is the name of our Chapel, after all. On the Feast, Christ the King Chapel is packed and features special music to commemorate the day. There is typically a special meal in St. Lawrence Commons afterwards.
Italian Night Dinner & Dance
Italian Night is an annual tradition at the college, beginning with an Italian dinner in the Commons. Later in the evening, a dance is held either outside or inside the Commons, featuring Italian music and more.
Texas Western Night
Held during Parents’ Weekend, Texas Western Night is an annual tradition at Christendom, featuring mechanical bull riding, square dancing, bonfires, and more. This is typically held in front of the Student Center.
St. Cecilia's Eve
A musical event held in the fall on or around the Feast of St. Cecilia, St. Cecilia’s Eve is a talent show of sorts, featuring students performing a variety of musical acts. This event is typically held in the Commons.
St. Joseph's Day Dinner
The St. Joseph’s Day Dinner is another annual tradition at the college, with an elaborate Italian feast prepared in the Commons. The celebration begins with a procession from Christ the King Chapel, with a statue of St. Joseph leading the way into the Commons, before the feast begins.
Christmas Caroling in the Rotunda
The library hosts an evening of caroling in the Library rotunda before the end of the fall semester, inviting the entire campus to come over to sing Christmas carols and enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and more.
On the first Sunday of May each year, there is a traditional May Crowning of the college’s Mary statue. This occurs prior to Mass.
Palm Sunday Procession
On Palm Sunday, the college has a procession prior to Mass. Palms are blessed outside Christ the King Chapel, followed by the procession.
Mardi Gras Celebration Dinner
Marking the final day before Lent begins, the Mardi Gras party typically features Creole-inspired dishes, elaborate decorations, music, and more. The party is typically held in Kilian’s Café.
Works of Mercy
Outside of all the many liturgical and sacramental offerings, students have many opportunities to serve the poor and needy.
Shield of Roses
A student-run pro-life club (and the oldest club on campus), members of Shield of Roses travel to a Planned Parenthood clinic in the D.C. metropolitan area every Saturday morning during the academic year to pray in front of it and offer counseling to women considering abortions. The club also hosts a semesterly Mega Shield event, which invites the entire college to prayerfully protest abortion.
Front Royal Walk for Life
Christendom College students are one of the largest groups at the Front Royal Walk for Life, which is held every fall on Main Street in Front Royal. The students raise money for the Front Royal Pregnancy Center in the weeks leading up to the walk as well, making the college one of the biggest sponsors of the Walk.
Loaves and Fishes Food Bank
Every Wednesday, Christendom students go down to Front Royal’s local food bank and help stock shelves, making sure there is food for the town’s impoverished.
March for Life in D.C.
The entire college takes the day off from school to attend the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., traveling there via chartered buses. United under a giant Christendom College banner, the school marches through D.C. joyfully as it celebrates life and protests the evils of abortion.
Spring Break Mission Trips
A large amount of the student body travels to the Dominican Republic, Peru, and to other third world countries during spring break to help the poor in those countries.
Mother Teresa's Club for Feeding Homeless
Mother Teresa’s Club goes into D.C. a couple Sundays every month, visiting the homeless, talking to them, and offering them food as well.
A newer work of mercy at the college, the Evangelization Institute is held over five weeks during the summer. Students learn practical evangelization skills, engage in a deeper prayer life, and go out to evangelize in the Diocese of Arlington.
Legion of Mary
The Legion of Mary promotes the holiness of its members and their apostolic works. The College has two Praesidia of the Legion of Mary which meet in St. Augustine Hall’s basement on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:00 P.M.
Visiting Nursing Homes
Throughout the year, a group of students go to local nursing homes to play music, socialize with the residents, and more.
Students for Life
This is the Christendom College group of the national Students for Life of America, which works to end abortion by educating students about the issues of abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide; by identifying pro-life student leaders; and, by equipping student pro-lifers with the training, skills and resources to be effective and successful.
Throughout the academic year (and during the summer), students go out into the Diocese of Arlington and elsewhere to evangelize door-to-door. They speak with residents, share their Catholic Faith, and try to lead others to Christ.
Students have been known to help out at St. John the Baptist, the local parish in Front Royal, Virginia. They assist in religious education, youth ministry and more. Some students have even done this on campus, sponsoring students as they finish RCIA to become confirmed.
Career Discernment & Formation Events
Students have so many chances to grow in their knowledge of the many career and vocational opportunities that await them post-graduation, and to learn how to grow in virtue and holiness along the way.
Life on Tap Networking Speaker Series
Hosted by the college’s career and leadership development office, “Life on Tap” events feature a successful guest speaker who discusses how they attained career success and what steps students can follow to achieve similar success. Following the talk, there is a one-on-one Q & A session available as well. This is typically held in Kilian’s Café.
Outside the Box Speaker Series
Outside the Box is a new speaker series on campus where the Career Development Office will be inviting influential and successful people to talk to the student body about their careers in order to give you insight and inspiration for your future. However, unlike “Life on Tap,” these generous speakers are coming from outside the sphere of Christendom.
At the Well Women's Formation Group
At the Well is a women’s formational series, often held in Kilian’s or in one of the women’s residence halls. The series often features a woman or several women who speak on a variety of topics.
Into the Deep Men's Formation Group
Into the Deep is a men’s formational series, often held in Kilian’s Cafe. The series often features a man or several men who speak on a variety of topics.
Laudamus Te First Friday Adoration and Talk
On the first Friday of every month, students, faculty, and staff pray a Holy Hour together in Christ the King Chapel. Following the Holy Hour, there is typically a social in Kilian’s Café featuring a talk from a special guest.
The student life office and the chaplaincy host a men’s and women’s convocation in the fall semester. The men’s convocation is typically held in Crusader Gymnasium and features a talk, followed by food and games. The women’s convocation is typically held in the basement of the Student Center and follows a similar format.
The college chaplains often deliver a series of talks during the year, focusing on prayer, how to deal with vices, and more.
On and Off-Campus Retreats
During the year, students travel off-campus to monasteries for weekend retreats, typically with a faculty or staff member leading the trip. In addition, the chaplaincy leads retreats on-campus during the year as well, with these retreats typically taking on a silent format.
And beyond all the many formal activities that go on here at Christendom, we have a number of traditions that are unique to our campus culture.
Prayers Before Class
Every class at Christendom begins the same: with a prayer. The professor leads the class in a Hail Mary, and Our Father, or another prayer, directing the whole class towards the center of Christendom’s mission: Christ.
The Crazies exist to boost school spirit and attendance at Christendom sporting events. Additionally, the Crazies are responsible for writing and leading cheers.
Painting the Rock
Students have been painting a giant rock on campus for decades now, decorating it in class years, Irish and papal flags, and more.
Metanoia is a student-run magazine that showcases the height of Christendom excellence in the areas of journalism, art, and design. It is meant to inspire thoughtful conversation among the student body and the broader Christendom community. Metanoia articles address issues concerning society, our immediate surroundings, and ourselves. Metanoia allows promising students the opportunity to develop their talents so that they can use contemporary media to “Restore All Things in Christ.”
Bonfires and Talks in St. Catherine's Glade
Professors hold a variety of bonfire talks throughout the year, taking advantage of the beautiful evenings in the Shenandoah Valley. In addition, the Student Activities Council will host bonfire events as well, featuring students playing music and more.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, class officers will deliver announcements to the Christendom community. They deliver them during lunch, informing everyone of what events are coming up that week.
A group of men on campus sing songs to the women of campus on their birthdays during the academic year. They sing special requests of the birthday girl, with faculty and staff sometimes joining in on this tradition as well.
Select seniors are honored each year by the staff and faculty of the college during the Awards Luncheon. Each of the department gives out an award, usually for best thesis, while the Student Activities Council and the athletic department also give out awards.
In the spring, before Spring Formal, the school auctions off special dinners hosted by members of the faculty and staff. Students bid on these dinners during lunch one day, raising hundreds of dollars — all of which go towards the college’s pro-life efforts.
Dorm Wars has been a tradition at the college since 2011-12, with residence halls paired up together to compete in a variety of events during the spring. These events include: the regatta competition, the swing and waltz competition, the a cappella competion, and others.
Singing the Salve Regina
Every Christendom event ends the same: with the singing of the Salve Regina by the entire Christendom community. This tradition has existed for decades now, and, similar to the saying of prayer at the beginning of each class, gives focus to the point of everything at the college. It is a way of showing gratitude, and one shown enthusiastically throughout the year.
Senior Party and Dinner
During senior year, the seniors are treated to several special events, including two senior parties and two senior dinners. The parties are laid back — a chance for seniors to hang out as a class one last time. The dinners are more formal affairs, with the dinner in the fall featuring a special talk from a faculty member and the one in the spring held right before commencement.
Ambassador Cookie Day
Every Wednesday during the academic year (except for during Lent), the college’s Student Ambassadors are treated to homemade cookies, baked by one of vice president for enrollment Tom McFadden’s children. These cookies are a treat, but also give the ambassadors a chance to catch up with the admissions office and other ambassadors.
Every spring semester, Vice President for Enrollment Tom McFadden welcomes senior men into his home to teach them how to make delicious meals for their future families — including the meal featured in this video, grilled London broil with béarnaise sauce, twice baked potatoes, broccoli, and brownies/ice cream for dessert.