Student Profile

Theresa Francis

Age: 21
Year: Senior
From: Falls Church, VA
Major: History
Hobbies? Irish dancing, hiking, horseback riding, and party planning.
What's your favorite class/professor? Since freshman year, I have always loved my history classes, but Prof. Sharon Hickson's short story class and Prof. Mike Brown's modern philosophy class are definitely two of my favorites. As for teachers, I could name at least ten off the top of my head that have impacted me in some way. That being said, the two teachers who have impacted me a great deal, both in and outside of the classroom, and whose classes I have always thoroughly enjoyed, are Dr. Adam Schwartz and Dr. Brendan McGuire.
What extra-curricular activities do you participate in? I have a job as a kitchen assistant; I have been on the Student Activities Counci;, I have played for the women's soccer team for two seasons; I have participated in multiple intramural sports; I am the co-manager of the Sacred Grounds coffee shop; I have been largely involved as a stage manager with the Mystery Dinner Theatre, and have been, and am now currently, a stage manager for the Christendom Players group; I am a lector for Mass; and I have also participated in the Mega Shield, which prayerfully protests outside abortion clinics.
What is your favorite thing about Christendom? The teachers and community for sure. Because Christendom's student body consists of about 420 students, the campus is an awesome Catholic community. I absolutely love the fact that we are able to attend daily Mass here and receive the sacraments frequently right on campus. Many thanks to our amazing chaplains: Fr. Planty, Fr. Mark, and Fr. Pilon.
Why did you choose Christendom? My Catholic faith is very important to me, and I wanted to attend a school that was centered around my faith, and the education I have received from Christendom has been just that. It has strengthened my faith tremendously!
What has surprised you the most about Christendom? How dedicated the faculty and staff are to the student body. Each professor is here for you and to enhance your personal learning experience in any way they can. Similarly, the staff here is awesome in every way. They really care about each individual student and strive to make them feel as much at home as possible.
Plans after graduation? After graduation, I am planning on being an Event Coordinator, and then eventually a Wedding Planner.
Any parting words of advice for a prospective student? If you want an education that is in accordance with the Catholic faith, and that will prepare you for whatever your vocation in life may be, then come here! I cannot thank God for blessing me enough with the opportunity of coming to Christendom College! My education here has been priceless, my teachers have been incredible, and I have made so many awesome friends who have always been here for me. Do not take a single day for granted, for it's an education like no other.

Student Life

President O'Donnell in Rome

As a papal consulter to the Vatican, Christendom College President Dr. Timothy O'Donnell traveled to Rome during fall break, and participated in the 21st Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Cardinals, bishops, and scholars convened to discuss a wide range of topics on the family, such as the role of the State in recognizing marriage and the theological foundation of the Vatican's 1983 Charter of the Rights of the Family.

The Council met with Pope Francis at the conclusion of the assembly and Dr. O'Donnell was able to personally meet the Holy Father and extend greetings from Christendom College.

"I told the him that we were praying for him everyday," O'Donnell said.

O'Donnell enjoyed special seating at a Mass in St. Peter's square in honor of the Plenary Assembly.

Silent Retreat for Fall Break

For fall break this year, over 20 students traveled 14 hours to the Community of St. John in Princeville, Illinois, for a silent retreat. Throughout the week, they listened to talks given by Fr. Joseph Mary Brown ('85).

"The retreat was amazing! It was an experience I will never forget," junior Elizabeth Slaten said. "I learned so much about myself and about becoming a better disciple and follower of Christ."

The group also went on hikes and had much time for personal prayer and adoration throughout the week.

"We went further into prayer, silence, and meditation by living with the Community of St. John," junior Mark Turner said. "I would highly recommend this retreat to all students as a means of reconnecting with God halfway through a busy semester. The experience of silence is something that anyone will profit from in a multitude of different ways."

The group of students that went on the silent retreat.


Senior Dinner

Time flies while in college—especially senior year. So the seniors and faculty members sat down to enjoy a special dinner together on the Monday after fall break. The students enjoyed spending time with their professors, who—through the personal education experience offered here—have become mentors to the seniors.

"I loved having my class back together as one group, since last year we were split due to studying abroad in Rome," senior Zach Smith said. "And it was also nice being able to chat with my professors outside of the classroom in a relaxing and casual setting."

Throughout the evening, Dr. Timothy O'Donnell and English professor emeritus Dr. Robert Rice gave brief remarks to the seniors. Political science professor Bracy Bersnak gave a talk on the value of a Liberal Arts education, especially in today's society. Bersnak explained how a Christendom education expands the mind and teaches students how to interact with their peers on a whole new level.

Prof. Bersnak gives a talk on the importance of a liberal arts education.

English majors and professors toast to the beginning of the final stretch of their education.

Some philosopher majors with their professors, Dr. Flippen and Prof. Wunsch.

Students enjoyed sitting with Dr. O'Donnell, Prof. Bersnak, and Fr. Planty.

The senior men gather together for a fun group shot...

...and a few of the ladies did too!


Rome Report

with Maria Bonvisutto

Rome in the Morning


Rome is most beautiful and serene early in the morning. My latest excursions in the city confirmed this opinion.

On Friday morning, some of my friends and I roused ourselves to go to 7:00 am Mass at St. Peter's. I'd never been before, but it's one of those things that all past Romers say is a 'must-do' so I was eager to see what all the excitement was about. I wasn't disappointed!

We were among the first group of pilgrims to enter the Basilica, and walking through its majestic corridors wrapped in silence was surreal. Dozens of priests say Mass at all the different altars around the church, so when you go to 7:00 Mass, you get to go "Mass shopping." It was a little overwhelming at first to try to pick an altar, but we finally decided on one and had our own private Mass in Italian. Well, it wasn't technically private but there were only three other people standing before the altar with us.

After Mass, we climbed to the cupola! Our timing was perfect, because we were some of the first people up and the sun was just rising. It was quite a trek! Finally, we emerged into the fresh air, legs hurting and out of breath. An absolutely astounding 360 degree view of the city of Rome and Vatican city bathed in the golden morning light greeted our eyes. I loved seeing the mountains rising on the outskirts of the surrounding countryside. We also got a wonderful look at the Vatican Gardens.

On Sunday morning, I had another spectacular Roman morning experience. The Vatican Museum opens its doors to the public for free on the last Sunday of the month. A couple of friends and I made it our goal to be the first visitors into the Sistine Chapel for the day. The museum opens at 9:00 am and we plopped ourselves down in front of the big bronze doors several hours beforehand to make sure we were at the front of the line. Our patience was rewarded. As the huge doors swung open and the crowds surged in, we hurried forward. After getting through security, we ran and speed walked through the empty halls of the Museum to get to the Chapel. It was such an exhilarating feeling being in those massive exhibition halls with no one else in sight! It was dead quiet and we were almost giddy with excitement.

When we finally turned a corner and entered the Chapel we just stood there panting, not quite believing that we were actually the first ones there. Being surrounded on all sides by the masterpieces of Michelangelo is simply dazzling. There's so much to see, so much intricate detail and so many grand, sweeping landscapes that it's hard to know where to turn your head next. We simply sat back and enjoyed the view for quite a while. Never in our lives have we been so glad to have woken up at the crack of dawn!

View from the dome of St. Peter's in the morning.

Above the entrance to the Vatican Museum,


Crusader Sports Center

Crusader Soccer Finishes Phenomenal Season

Members of the 2013 Christendom College soccer and volleyball teams broke into the record books recently,earning top spots in the USCAA rankings.

volleyballSenior Bridget Vander Woude made Christendom history, becoming the first Christendom student-athlete to lead a statistical category in the USCAA. Vander Woude is currently ranked No. 1 for average aces per set with 1.43 aces per set. Also in women's volleyball, junior Mary Barbale is currently ranked No. 2 in hitting percentage at .370, while Vander Woude is ranked No. 5 at .346.

The men's soccer team features five players with high rankings. Sophomore Sean Salmon is currently ranked No. 5 in total goals. Senior Johnny Foeckler, sophomore Patrick Audino, and freshman Joey Kuplack are all ranked in the top 25 for goals scored. Additionally, goalkeeper Tim Vander Woude is ranked No. 7 in goals allowed per game and No. 10 in total goals allowed.


For the women's soccer team, senior Morgan Kavanagh also broke into the top 10, being ranked for her total goals and points scored. Freshman goalie Anna Forst is currently ranked No. 4 for average goals allowed each game at just .83 per game.

"Congratulations go out to these tremendous young student-athletes as well as to their coaches and teams," athletic director Chris Vander Woude says. "Individual awards are so much a product of the entire team and, for these three teams, it is no exception."

Each team had great seasons due to the leadership of their coaches and the discipline and sacrifice that each player made for the benefit of the team. The men's soccer team was particularly exceptional, finishing with a record of 11-2-1 and outscoring their opponents by an astonishing 78-14 goal-margin.

Click here to find out more about Christendom Athletics.


Special Report

A Best Value College — Without Federal Funding

This year Christendom College once again appears in an exclusive ranking of the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the nation by Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine. Kiplinger's made the announcement in mid-October, including Christendom in the top 50 of its national list of best values in liberal arts colleges, naming the institutions that combine outstanding quality with affordability.

"Our continued appearance in this ranking is a testament to Christendom's high value in the world of higher education," says Christendom's Director of Admissions Tom McFadden. "Our generous donors enable us to remain free from Federal funding and still offer a robust financial aid program. We can keep costs down, while at the same time, make sure our personal and highly-acclaimed liberal arts education is within reach of every family."

Kiplinger's rankings measure academic quality and affordability—quality accounts for 56%, and cost factors account for 44%. Factors studied include cost and financial aid (31%), student indebtedness (12%), competitiveness (25%), graduation rates (19%), and academic support (13%).

Ranked as one of the top ten colleges in the nation by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Christendom appears in numerous other national secular and religious guides each year including Barron's Best Buys, Peterson's Competitive Colleges, The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, and others.



Tom McFaddenAsk the Director

Q. Can you tell me a little bit more about your core curriculum? I hear it is pretty extensive and that everyone has to take all the same classes. Do students get to choose any of their classes? When do you pick your major?

A. Our core curriculum is our pride and joy. In fact, it's one of the most distinctive aspects about us, and I am happy that you want to know more about it!

All students who attend Christendom study much of the same subject matter for the first two and a half years. Currently, all students take 86 credit hours of carefully selected classes:

  • 6 specific classes (18 credits) of Theology
  • 6 specific classes (18 credits) of Philosophy
  • 4 specific classes (12 credits) of English Language & Literature
  • 4 specific classes (12 credits) of History
  • 4 classes (12 credits) of Foreign Language (Latin, Greek, or French - your choice)
  • 2 specific classes (6 credits) of Political Science
  • 1 class (3 or 4 credits) of Math (your choice)
  • 1 class (3 credits) of Science (your choice)

At the end of your sophomore year, you are able to select one of our six majors (History, Theology, Philosophy, Classics, English Language & Literature, or Political Science). Additionally, you can minor or double major in any of these same subjects, and can minor also in Math, Economics, and Liturgical Music.

Once a student has completed the core curriculum, they can then focus more on their major and take classes in their area of study.

Also, if a student chooses to attend our wonderful Junior Semester in Rome program, there are four more required classes: Art & Architecture, Italian, Theology (either Moral Theology or Apologetics—depends on which semester they attend), and Roman Perspectives. And finally, all students take two 1-credit courses as part of the College's "Education for a Lifetime" Career Development Program.

Learn more about our core curriculum by going here and also, you can see our list of required readings for each of the classes, if you wish, here.