Student Profile

Kelsey Ingold

Age: 22
Year: Senior
From: Cresson, Pennsylvania
Major: Philosophy
Hobbies: Singing, playing piano/guitar, drinking coffee, reading, having great conversations, praying.
What is your favorite class or professor? I love Ascetical and Mystical Theology with Dr. Timothy O’Donnell. The content is amazing; we are reading so many great spiritual classics. Dr. O’Donnell is such a great teacher and everyone can tell his heart is really in this material.
What extra curricular activities do you participate in? I love going to Shield of Roses and have participated in the Holy Rood Society. I’m also a member of the Senior Philanthropy Board.
What's your favorite thing about Christendom? The people. I never imagined so many diverse and wonderful people could all be together at such a small school! I've made the best friends here and have so many experiences that I will remember forever.
Why did you choose Christendom? I wanted a solidly Catholic school where I would meet people who were also passionate about their faith, and I have. smile
What surprised you the most about Christendom? How much I’ve grown here.
Plans after graduation? I’m very happily discerning a vocation with the Sisters of Life. smile
Any parting words of advice for prospective students? Come, and become friends with everyone! Be proactive and get involved. Christendom is amazing.

Student Life


Spring Blood Drive

The American Red Cross came to the Crusader Gymnasium this past Monday to hold its semi-annual Blood Drive for the Christendom community. Faculty, staff, and students all donated blood throughout the day, and as usual, there was a wonderful turnout of people. The local hospitals are always in need of blood, and so they really count on blood drives to make a difference. The Red Cross was extremely grateful to Christendom for helping the community.

“I love to volunteer for the Blood Drive because I feel that blood donations are often overlooked by the pro-life movement and are vital in saving lives,” says senior Melissa Vanwynsberghe. “Although I cannot give blood myself, it is wonderful to be part of this day and contribute in whichever way I can.”

The Red Cross preps students for blood donations in the Crusader Gymnasium.

Seniors Colleen Anderson and Melissa Vanwynsberghe man the "recovery table."


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St. Patrick’s Day was met and celebrated with Christendom College’s unequalled enthusiasm by students, faculty, and families alike. The night began in St. Lawrence Commons with Irish food galore, including potatoes, Irish soda bread, green frosted brownies, and Guinness for those of age. After dinner, the colorful tables were cleared away for a night of Irish music, dancing, and an appearance from St. Patrick himself. Senior Conor Knox has attended and played music at the St. Patrick’s Day festivities four years in a row, and always looks forward to it.

“I really enjoy this event,” he shared. “Playing Irish music is a lot of fun—it’s awesome to have this opportunity to entertain my friends and help them have a great time.”

Sudents, along with the faculty and their families, gathered in the Commons to celebrate the feast day together with great spirit and enthusiasm. This popular cultural festivity is part of what makes up Christendom’s global experience.

Freshmen enjoy some authentic Irish fare before the evening performances.

College President, Dr. Timothy O'Donnell, and his sons open with fun Irish ballads.

A full house at St. Patrick's Day.

The Foecklers (freshman Stephen and senior Johnny) perform an Irish dance, with their cousin Roisin DuFrain.

History professor Dr. Brendan McGuire plays the pipes.

Some of "The Clansmen" smile while singing the finale to a stirring Irish tune.

Senior Katie Shannon captures everyone's attention with a beautiful Irish melody.

Christendom's "Birthday Singers" perform a few of their popular Irish songs.

Junior Leif Pilegaard on the fiddle.

Daughters of Admission Director Tom McFadden charm the audience with their dancing.

Students gather in fellowship at the back of the crowded St. Lawrence Commons.

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St. Joseph's Day

The Christendom community celebrated the feast of St. Joseph with flair last Wednesday evening. Before the big St. Joseph’s Day dinner, students and faculty gathered for Solemn Vespers in Christ the King Chapel. Following Vespers, chaplain Fr. Planty led a procession with the statue of St. Joseph to the Commons, where the statue was given a special place of honor. Following an old St. Joseph’s Day tradition, Fr. Planty then began dinner by blessing baskets of bread.

The entire college sat down to an amazing Italian feast that included several different tasty pasta dishes, cheeses, meat, and a wide variety of appetizers and salads. Of course, there was also an incredible dessert table with gelato, cannoli, and other pastries. Italian music and beautifully decorated tables provided the perfect atmosphere for students and professors to have a wonderful time eating the delicious food and sharing good conversation.

Processing from the Chapel.

Processing with St. Joseph's statue into the Commons

Fr. Planty blesses the bread.

Students enjoy the many delicious Italian desserts.

Junior Peter Romanchuk helps himself to the amazing antipasto.

Students enjoy the incredible Italian feast.


All-American Night

The theme for this Saturday’s Pub Night in Kilian’s Café was “All-American Night,” where everyone dressed up in their red, white and blue attire for a fun, relaxing evening with their friends. St. Kilian’s was decked out in patriotic decorations, patriotic songs played over the speakers, and there was American specialty food and snacks, and alcoholic beverages for those over 21. Several competitive games of cards went on throughout the evening, and many people chatted over a bonfire outside the café.

Juniors and seniors sport their American bowler hats!

Everyone was excited about the hotdogs—the most American food that exists!

Freshmen girls paint their faces and deck out in all of their American gear.

An exciting game of cards!

Freshmen students enjoying a relaxing evening together.

It was the perfect night for a bonfire, and many students took advantage of it!


An Ethiopian Field Trip

College chaplain Fr. Donald Planty’s Faith-Filled Fun Field Trips continued last Sunday with a trip to Washington D.C. to experience a Ge’ez Rite Mass and then try Ethiopian food at a restaurant down the road from the church. Fr. Planty’s past position as a Vatican ambassador in Ethiopia made him especially qualified to lead the field trip, and on the way he explained what to expect at the Mass, while teaching the students about the Ethiopian culture, helping them pronounce some basic words, and answering their questions. After the Mass, the group further immersed themselves in the Ethiopian culture by eating an authentic meal, ordered and explained by Fr. Planty.

“Father does a good job teaching us about how the Catholic faith is present in different cultures,” senior Gloria Connolly shared. “I try to attend as many of the field trips as I can, and I always enjoy them”.

Fr. Planty will continue hosting field trips throughout the semester, the next one being a locally-based Men’s Morning Hike.

Students smile during the English sermon while sitting together at the front of the church.

Father Planty concelebrates the Mass alongside the Ethiopian priest.

Father explains the native dishes to the students as they take turns trying the different foods.

The groups pauses for a picture outside the restaurant.


Two Composers Discuss Their Works fr. planty

As part of the ongoing Beato Fra Angelico series, a talk was held on Sunday evening entitled "Two Composers Discuss Their Works: Mark Nowakowski and Kurt Poterack." The Beato Fra Angelico series is a number of events held on campus throughout the semester to encourage students' interest in the fine arts. Faculty and students gathered in the basement of the St. John the Evangelist library to listen to original music composed by two of Christendom's music faculty, choir director Dr. Kurt Poterack and music professor Mark Nowakowski. Everyone enjoyed hearing the two composers' beautiful pieces of music, as well as the critiques and comments they made about each others' musical works.


The audience listens attentively as Dr. Poterack analyzes Professor Nowakowski's piece.

Professor Nowakowski explains his most recently composed work.


Chester-Belloc Debate: Is Just War Theory Relevant?

The Chester-Belloc Debate Society was back at it after Spring Break holding a lively debate on Sunday evening in Regina Coeli. The proposition being discussed was a devil’s advocate argument stating, "Resolved: Catholic Just War Theory does not apply to the Modern World."

Students and faculty took turns giving passionate arguments for both the pro and the con side. There were many good questions for the debaters, and overall the night was full of great insights into the Church’s stance on warfare and how it is relevant to today’s armed conflicts. Highlights of the evening included speeches on the topic by members of the Theology Department, professor Eric Jenislawski and professor William Diem. Ultimately, after an exciting round of strong sudden-death speeches, the con side won the day.

Sophomore Jack Coyle gives arguments for the con side.

Senior and Chairman of Chester-Belloc Debate Society Andrew Clark delivered a rousing speech.

Defending the Church's Just War Theory.


Rome Report

with Philip Gilbert

From Classrooms to Mountain Tops


Being able to study in Rome is absolutely amazing, but the problem is that there's so much one should see and do that it's nearly impossible to do it all. Even since writing the last Rome Report there's so much that's happened, I can't recount all of it.

Though we've dived into our classes and are now several weeks deep, it hasn't excluded the possibility of exploring the city on weekdays. In fact, our classes are designed to enhance our experience here in Rome and they encourage us to get out and see various things.

We're studying basic Italian, which really pays off because it helps us to better navigate the city, buy groceries, and order cappuccinos without seeming too much like tourists. One of the particularly fun things about this class is that as part of our homework we are frequently given a “sfida,” or challenge, to use our knowledge of Italian in a particular setting. In addition, to simply using our newly-learned Italian phrases at the coffee bar, bakery, or some other place, we have to take a picture of ourselves with the employee that we talk to. Our Italian teacher, Professor Benzaia, plans to include some of these photos in a textbook she is writing. 

In Roman Perspectives we're learning the founding of Rome and its legacy so that we can better understand the identity of the city and appreciate the history-rich environment that we live in.

Our Art and Architecture class explores the styles and influences in the mosaics, sculptures, and buildings found throughout Rome. Our professor, Dr. Liz Lev, alternates between giving classroom lectures and guided tours,  as well as assigning site visits as homework to visit various churches and historical sights. This is a great way to see important places in Rome and learn more about the specifics of what we're looking at.

In addition to that, we are sometimes given days off so that we can take advantage of certain weekday events, such as our first Papal Audience. In order to get decent seats at the audience, we all got up hours earlier than normal and joined the throng of eager Catholics in the cold waiting outside the colonnade of St. Peter's square. When the gates opened we hurried through the security lines to secure seats as close to the barrier as possible. Though we managed to sit close to where the pope was to pass by, we had to laugh when we realized that we had chosen seats in the one place in Vatican Square that would remain entirely in the shade, making for a significant temperature difference. Nonetheless, it was amazing to hear the Pope's message given in many languages to people from all corners of the world united by our common faith, and to see the diversity of the different groups of pilgrims waving their various flags and cheering for the Holy Father as he passed by.

One of the things that I think is so special and unique about Christendom is the various opportunities we get to interact with the college's president in a very personal way. Dr. and Mrs. O'Donnell came to Rome to visit with us and Dr. O'Donnell took the opportunity to share some of his knowledge of Rome with us. This included a tour of St. Peter's Basilica and a tour for the feast of St. Frances of Rome. Since we will be present for the canonization of Blessed John Paul II, Dr. O'Donnell arranged a special tour for us. We got the chance to visit the Angelicum where Blessed John Paul studied and we saw his favorite garden spot and some of his personal documents such as his ID card, transcripts, and some personal letters. On the O'Donnell's last night in Rome we kicked off our St. Patrick's Day celebrations a couple days early by visiting the neighborhood Irish pub with him along with literature professor Sharon Hickson, who was visiting. While chatting with him there, Dr. O'Donnell shared some of his personal stories about Rome and the times that he met Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

As amazing as Rome is, sometimes it can be hard to find time to slow down and collect oneself. To this end, the Rome Program offered a men's retreat weekend in the small town of Norcia, known for its wild boar sausage and for being the birthplace of Saints Benedict and Scholastica.  We stayed in the guest house of the Benedictine monastery, and joined them for Mass and offices throughout the day in the basilica built directly over where St. Benedict was born. The monks produce beer, which is well-known in Italy, and in thanks for their hospitality, we helped move and clean up rubble from their most recent brewery expansion. While in Norcia, we took a day to hike six miles and 4,200 feet of elevation to the enormous cross on top of Mount Patino. In the spirit of Lent, every so often we would stop along the trail and pray the Stations of the Cross. By the time we reached the summit we had long-passed the snow line and the temperature had dropped about thirty degrees. We were all cold and tired, but as the sun set over little town of Norcia and the rest of the valley, we knelt at the top of the icy mountain with the enormous cross towering over us, and we prayed the twelfth station. When we finally arrived back at the monastery we were physically exhausted and painfully aware of our minuteness, but grateful for the natural beauty we had seen that day. We unanimously agreed that our trek that day was the most awesome hike we'd ever been on.

Celebrating St. Patrick with Dr. O'Donnell.

Hiking Mount Patino.

Praying the 12th Station at the summit.


Crusader Sports Center

Crusaders Dominate George Mason U

Last Saturday the Crusader Rugby team took the field to face a big George Mason University squad in front of a large crowd of Christendom Crazies. After a nail biting 19-19 tie in their season opener against Catholic University, the Crusaders stepped everything up a notch to dominate George Mason in their second home game of the season. Upon returning from Spring Break, the team had less than a week, to prepare for this next match against a solid GMU team.

Considering the vast individual talent and experience, especially in the young players, the Crusaders' primarily had to focus on their teamwork, to make sure that they clicked as a team. And click they did!

Led by captains Pat Audino and Ben Scrivener, the team gave a dominating performance for their home fans.  Despite their size advantage, GMU couldn’t handle the Crusaders who scored 4 tries including 6 extra-point kicks added with accuracy by freshman Joey Kuplack. The Crusaders held GMU to a first half shutout, which included a fantastic goal line stop just seconds before the halftime whistle—an incredible team effort. After that, the Crusaders gave more of the same in the second half, giving up only seven points for a staggering 26-7 victory.

"We cleaned up our play from the first game and our discipline translated onto the scoreboard," Pat Audino said after the game.

When asked about his thoughts on the highlight of the game, freshman Derek Casey immediately pointed out the goal line stop in the first half.

"I just want to give a shout out to our whole team," he said. "Especially the forwards on our goal line stop against them. It gave us so much momentum and just carried us through to the end."

On the whole, the Crusaders played extremely well both individually and as a team, and brought home the "W" in an impressive thrashing of GMU, despite the drastic size difference of the two schools. 

The Crusader's next game is on Saturday, March 29 against American University, followed by the team's first Shield Match, which is a home game against the Franciscan University of Steubenville Barons on April 12.  So come out and support our Crusaders!

Freshman Peter Gaetano flies down the field for the try.

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Special Report

15 Years of Student Missionaries

This spring break, a record 90 students—25% of the Front Royal campus student body—went on mission trips. The college has been offering its annual mission trips for 15 years (since 1999). Over 700 students, about 30 faculty and staff, and about 20 alumni have been sent. The college has sponsored both domestic and international mission trips, having gone to ten different countries: Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Dominican Republic (D.R.), Guatemala, Mexico City as well as Tijuana, Spain, Australia, and San Lucia.

This year, students traveled to the D.R., Guatemala, Peru, and New York City.

In the D.R., 24 students, along with two staff members, worked in the small village of Hato Viejo where they installed concrete floors in houses, which will keep houses much cooler than dirt floors and also give the families more dignity in their dwellings.  In Guatemala, 34 students and four staff members installed a water pump in a remote mountain village, El Terrero. Now, thanks to their efforts, the inhabitants of the village no longer need to walk for hours down a mountain to fetch their water for the day. In Peru, 13 students and one staff member traveled to work with the Missionary Servants of the Poor of the Third World. In New York, 14 students went to the Bronx to work with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at their homeless shelter for men.

Mission Trips Program coordinator and philosophy professor Mike Brown says that they started the program to challenge students to dedicate their spring breaks on service to others instead of focusing their breaks on themselves.

"The response has been overwhelming," he says. "Our students are incredibly generous—they love to give, they love to serve and to help those less fortunate than themselves, and this love of service is rooted in their love for Jesus and the Church."

Brown says that the Mission Trips Program has been a real blessing and source of many graces for both the students and the College.

"Mother Teresa once said that if a person wants to know Jesus then there's no better place to go to than to the poor," he says. "I believe our students have indeed experienced the truth of this saying; their encounter with real poverty, real need has been an eye-opening and life-changing experience for many and has indeed been a way in which they encounter Our Lord, a way in which they have come to know Him in a way that perhaps they have never known Him before."

Check out the video below from this year's mission trip to the D.R.

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Tom McFaddenAsk the Director

Q. There are a lot of good colleges out there and I am finding it hard to always tell the differences between them. Is there some easy way to figure out which college I should go to?

The age-old question. And there is no easy answer.

How do you even begin this type of process? Well, ask some friends, family, priests, and others, then look at the websites of these schools. Read the "About" section and mission statements. See what they are all about and determine if these schools have the same goal in mind as you do. Look over all the aspects of the website to see what kind of "feel" you get for the place.

If you like what you see initially, then maybe formulate some questions and see if any have been answered in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the site. If not, then contact an admissions office representative and ask them as many questions as you want. If it seems to still be meeting your needs, then the next step would be to schedule a visit to the college. You can get a real sense of a place by walking around campus and meeting the students and faculty, staying in the residence halls, and even seeing how the students spend their leisure time. All very important to the "college search" process, I think.

If, after visiting, you've narrowed your search down to three or four colleges, maybe then ask the admissions representatives why they think that people choose their school over the others. I know that I am personally very knowledgeable about the differences between Christendom and many other faithful Catholic colleges and universities. Although most admissions counselors (and Directors) are generally biased toward the place where they work, most are doing their best to help students understand what their particular college offers and how it might differ from others. That is, they are simply trying to give you as much information as they can so that you can make a fully informed decision. Some, though, unfortunately, act like used car salesmen and do or say just about anything to get you to come to their school.

You will not find that kind of attitude in the Admissions Office at Christendom, I promise.

And finally, you must pray about it. Going to this or that college will change your life forever, either for good or for bad. Many Catholic leave the faith during their college years; some "survive college" and keep the faith; others grow and mature in their faith. Much of this depends on where you go to school, who you hang out with, and what you are studying. Is it more important for you to be in a place that offers a particular degree in a not-so-Catholic environment, or are you more concerned with being in a Catholic environment with maybe a limited number of degrees? Do you want to get out of college debt-free with the having paid the least amount out of pocket, even if it means sacrificing a Catholic education, or are you willing to accumulate some debt and pay some money out of pocket to get the education you want?

These are questions only you and your family can answer. And they are very hard questions, for sure. So, in short,

  • Figure out what you are looking for in a college education;
  • Ask your trusted friends, priests, and relatives their opinions;
  • Look up the colleges/universities on the internet and give a thorough review of their mission, programs, and overall purpose;
  • Ask questions of the Admissions Office;
  • Visit your short list of schools; and
  • Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance to make the right decision!

Good luck and let me know if I can be of any further help!

God bless,