Commencement 2011


Name: Celia Gossin
Age: 21
Nokesville, VA
Political Science
Hobbies? Irish dancing, knitting, reading, and hanging out with friends.
Who's your favorite professor and what's your favorite class? My favorite class this semester was History of Modern Philosophy with Prof. Michael Brown. The class materiel was intriguing and Prof. Brown was incredibly animated and kept the class alive. My favorite professor is Prof. Bracy Bersnak. He has a great sense of humor and he really cares about his students.
What extra-curricular activities do you participate in? Sometimes I'll jump into intramural sports or help SAC.
What is your favorite thing about Christendom? My favorite thing about this school is the people. I know everyone says that, but it's true. Everyone here is genuinely kind and it provides a very comfortable and encouraging atmosphere.
Why did you choose Christendom? My parents went here and loved it so I thought I'd give it a go.
What has surprised you the most about Christendom?
I visited a lot before I came, so nothing really surprised me.
Plans after graduation? I plan to go to graduate school for psychology.
Any parting words of advice for a prospective student? Come and see the school for yourself.


The Last Pub Night

The last Pub Night of the year was held on Wednesday, May 4, in the St. Lawrence Commons. To end the year with a bang, the SAC hosted the most musical pub night ever, with many performances throughout the night, kicking off with Sophomore Theresa Lamirande. She sang both covers and original songs, and she was joined by Freshman Katie Shannon and later with Sophomore Hugh Bratt for different songs. She was followed by a duo of Sophomores Eric Maschue and Alicia Stanton. Freshman Paul Fiesel also put on a show by rapping, and he was joined in a song by Sophomore Nick Blank.

“I loved how this pub night turned into a concert,” Sophomore Tim McPhee said. “Everyone had so much fun, and it was an especially great way to relax before final exams started.”

The night was marked by a final performance by the band Nick Freeman and the Texas Heat, made up of Seniors Nick Freeman, Troy Spring, James Hannon, and Rory O’Donnell, with Freshman Jake Morgan on the drums. The Texas Heat has been a favorite Christendom country band, and the student body cheered them on as they performed for everyone one last time before they graduated. Students were also entertained by the band Don Juan and the Long Johns, a group made up of Junior Anthony Barren and Sophomores Hugh Bratt, Jimmy Munson, Dom Ginski, and Eric Maschue. Both student bands had the crowd dancing and singing as they performed a mixture of popular favorites with country and rock classics.

Alicia's and Eric's voices blended well together as they sang a number of fun songs.

Don Juan and the Long Johns performed some favorites.

Theresa Lamirande performs one of her original songs.

Paul and Nick filled the Commons with laughter as they performed a humorous rap.

Texas Heat ended the night with a stirring last performance.

Dance Under the Stars

Saturday night, students arrived at the St. Lawrence Commons for the annual “Dance Under the Stars.” The dance is traditionally held outdoors, but due to poor weather conditions it was moved inside the Commons.

The band “Starting Early” consisting of seniors Rory O’Donnell and James Hannon, junior Gabe Schuberg and sophomore Dominick Ginski, played live music throughout the night.

“The dance was really fun and everyone looked like they had a good time,” said Freshman Marisa DePalma. “It was great to see some of the Rome Spring semester students back on campus. The band did a great job too—they were a blast to dance too.”

Chronicler Reporter Madeleine Murphy enjoys a dance.

Starting Early brought some swingin' oldies back to life.

May Crowning

The morning of Sunday, May 8, Christ the King Chapel was full as the senior girls lined up in the vestibule to process in and lay roses at Our Lady's feet and crown the statue. Freshman Veronica Halbur, who is in charge of floral arrangements for the Chapel, made the crown of Roses. As the statue was crowned and the senior girls processed in, the congregation sang Marian hymns in honor of the Blessed Mother.

“It's really lovely to see our Blessed Mother honored like this," Sophomore Sarah Halbur said. "She does so much for us—so it's good for us to do something to honor her.”

Senior ladies leave roses at the feat of Our Lady.

The Chaplain's Cookout

On Friday, May 6, College Chaplain Fr. Donald Planty invited all faculty, staff, and seniors to a cookout held at the Student Center. All enjoyed grilled chicken, bratwurst, and other delicious fare. It was a great way for students, staff, and faculty to relax and socialize before the busyness of finals and graduation weekend.

Baccalaureate Mass

Christendom College launched its commencement weekend on May 13 with the Baccalaureate Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend James Conley, Auxiliary Bishop of Denver.

"Higher education today reflects a profound divorce of faith and reason," Bishop Conley said during his homily on Friday. "In academia today, reason alone is seen as the credible source for the truth about things. Only what can be proven by the canons of the scientific method is considered true or real. My friends, you can't fly with only one wing. The wing of reason is not sufficient. Without the wing of faith the human search for truth can't get off the ground."

Bishop Conley, who taught Christendom students who participated in the Semester in Rome program from 2004-2006, told the graduates to be grateful that they received an education at Christendom.

"Give thanks for the administration, faculty, your fellow students, and most of all your parents. You've had the privilege to truly seek and contemplate the truth during your years here. You have built your education of the foundation of faith and reason," he said.

His Excellency told graduates that faith is a gift and that God gives us the gift to share. Thus Faith is always a mission and this graduation is a commissioning.

"You are being sent forth from this campus and into the world to spread the good news of the gospel. To share the gift of faith," he concluded. "My prayer for you, dear graduates, is that in everything, you work to build the culture of life and the civilization of love. Use your education to spread the light of Christian charity and truth. Wherever you go, offer everything you do for the love of God and for the love of neighbor."

Bishop Conley receives the gifts from Jack Donohue and Lauren Oligny during the offertory.

The choir performed Missa Brevis in E major written and conducted by college choir director Dr. Kurt Poterack.

Graduation Dinner

Following a reception in Piazza San Lorenzo after the Baccalaureate Mass, Seniors, their parents, and faculty enjoyed a dinner in the St. Lawrence Commons. Prepared by Chef Dennis Paranzino, all enjoyed an elegant dinner of lasagna and green beans, ending with cheesecake. The evening was filled with fun reminiscing at each table and with the traditional toasts to the parents, students, faculty, and staff. Concluding the night, all gathered in the Chapel Crypt to enjoy the Senior Slide Show created by Senior Katie Cruser.

Dr. O'Donnell toasts the parents of the Senior Class.

Senior Class President Joe Townsend toasts the faculty.

2011 Commencement Exercises

Saturday's ceremonies began with a bagpipe-led procession from Christ the King Chapel to St. Louis the Crusader Gymnasium. Salutatorian John Killackey of Wayne, N.J., welcomed all the attendees and told his classmates that it was in their studies and experiences at Christendom that they found humility.

"A humility that is not a false sense of sadness, or even despair, over our condition, but one that is centered on truth and fills us with joy and hope, because truth is Christ," Killackey said. "Humility teaches us that though we have learned much in our experience here, we have only begun our search for knowledge and wisdom, and we must continue this search all of our lives for the good of all those around us."

The Alumni Association's Student Achievement Award was given to Matthew Rensch of Williston, Vt., for his dedication to the community. Rensch made great contributions to the academic life of the college and was active in varsity sports, mission trips, and many other facets of student life. In all that he did, he maintained a cheerful disposition and showed exemplary leadership.

Bishop Conley was the given an honorary doctorate from Christendom College President Dr. Timothy O'Donnell.

"You are the real change-makers in our culture even though, relatively speaking, you lack the size and endowments of so many larger Catholic institutions of higher learning," the bishop said in his remarks. "Speaking from the heart of the Church with a confident Catholic identity, you are forming talented and creative disciples, equipping them with a Christian vision of life, culture, and history and sending them out well prepared to be leaders in the contemporary world."

After receiving the
Pro Deo et Patria Medal for Distinguished Service to God and Country, Dr. Robert George delivered his address to graduates, exhorting them live a life filled with faith and trust in God. George recounted the story of the rich young man in the Gospel who, after encountering Christ and being asked to give up all his possessions, turned away sad.

"All of us, every single one, rich or poor, has riches in the sense of things we desire and cherish and don't want to give up or place at risk," he said. "And it will be riches of some sort that we will be asked by Jesus Himself to sacrifice or place at risk."

George explained that the vocation of every Christian includes a demand that, humanly speaking, is impossible. The call is always a demand for self-sacrificial love for the sake of the Gospel, but we must not suppose that it will be about material riches.

"I assure you, it will not be," he said. "Perhaps Christ is calling you or me to take a stand right now. Perhaps even to dedicate our lives to a cause that is unpopular in influential and elite sectors of our culture: the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage, religious liberty, and the right of conscience—the principles at the foundation of our civilization and polity that are so much at risk today, under so much ferocious assault from the most powerful."

Concluding, George implored the graduates to have "the strength and courage, the hope and the faith, and above all the soul-ennobling, world-transforming, passionately-burning love that will enable you to go and sell all that you have and follow Christ."

Following the commencement address, Valedictorian Elise Anderson of Fredericksburg, Va., called on her classmates "to take the world with a storm of joy and laughter."

"While there will be some people who will find us distasteful for our religion and ethical practices, I want to remind my classmates that there will be others who will be intrigued by us and the joy that we have," Anderson said. "I firmly believe that our joyful responses to life will excite their curiosity. So even on those days when you least desire to act cheerfully and to exhibit Christian charity, make sure you do anyway. You never know how many people your actions may affect."

Closing the ceremony, College President Dr. Timothy O'Donnell delivered his charge to the graduates. He told them that they were entering a world where humanity has no origin or destiny—where the light of Christ has been shut out in countless ways and areas of life and culture.

"Many in our world today, of my generation and many people who are over 40, have lapsed into a type of agnosticism or skepticism," he said. "Your studies here in philosophy, in theology, in history, in literature, and in the other disciplines have nurtured you in the resources of the rich Catholic Christian heritage. You have not been cut off, but immersed. This places a serious but glorious obligation on you."

Concluding, he charged them to never be cut off from their heritage and the Faith.

"Always stay close to those unhealed wounds [of Jesus], which alone can heal the world and heal your souls. Stay close to that great beating Heart, which is so in love with men. Do that and you will be witnesses to hope," he said.

All addresses and remarks can be downloaded at Christendom on iTunes U.

The bagpipes lead the way, followed by the college registrar, Walter Janaro, who holds the college's mace.

Graduates toss their hats in the air following the Commencement Exercises.

Rome Report writer Frances Allington with her brother and SAC President Richard Allington poses for a photo with their family.

James Hannon and Troy Spring congratulate each other.

The girls of Blessed Margaret Hall (in background).

The Vander Woude clan gathers around their recent grad, Mary Kate.

Graduation Dance

Seniors, with their families, friends, and fellow students, all gathered one last time to dance the night away in the St. Lawrence Commons on Saturday night. The standards and swing band, Yesterday Swing Orchestra, played old favorites.

"The band had a great time at Christendom College," Orchestra Director Bob Johnson said. "They are always such an appreciative and energetic crowd! Good luck to all the new graduates as they move on to the next phases of their lives!"

During the dance, all enjoyed a viewing of the senior slide show as they reminisced on the past four years—in Front Royal and Rome. The dance came to a close at 1 a.m. among tearful good-byes and warm embraces.

Vocalist Vicki Petrosky sings an Ella Fitzgerald tune.

Senior Liz Newcombe enjoys a dance with Sophomore Jake Akers.

Even the little siblings hit the dance floor.

What Will You Miss About Christendom?

The Senior Thesis

What underclassmen doesn't shudder—even a little—upon hearing the words “Senior Thesis”? The idea of writing the longest paper of your college career on a topic associated with your major is rather daunting.

Upon arriving at the end of their Junior year (or perhaps sooner if they are ambitious), students begin thinking about their Senior Thesis; what topic might they do it on, who their advisor might be, and what semester they'd like to write it in.

The class, officially titled, “Senior Thesis 512,” is mandatory for all seniors, and is the cumulation of their four years of study at Christendom, particularly in the area of their major. After registering for their Thesis, seniors choose a topic, which they must get approved by their advisor.

Some departments have the students orally defend their finished theses to an audience. Christendom's Academic Bulletin states:

“As the culmination of the student's four years of study in the liberal disciplines, the senior thesis is to be a scholarly paper of substance, demonstrating the student's ability to do significant research in his discipline, and employing the senior's developed skills in the arts of discourse, especially mastery of the techniques of research, exposition, and argumentation. The student may as part of the 512 course be required by his department to defend the thesis in an oral examination.”

After the theses have been finished and reviewed, they are then bound into organized books, and put in the library. The books are organized by year and major. There is also a reference book which students can use to locate specific theses.

“I thought the senior thesis was a challenging project, but it gave us all a good opportunity to use the skills we have been developing over the past four years in one big project," Senior Tyler Lowe said. "It was a really good experience. As a freshman, you think of the thesis as this big forty or fifty page paper, and you think it's a lot then, but it's neat to see everything come together.”

The Senior Thesis is another great way Christendom prepares its students for life after college—even if it is daunting at first. If you work hard along the way, the finished project will be something to be proud of.

Bound copies of past theses in the library.

Spring Semester Sports Wrap-Up

With the end of the academic year and the spring semester, we look back at the past few months in the world of Crusader Athletics.

The semester started off with a bang with the women’s basketball team completing their first winning season in Christendom history, led by a talented group of freshmen and the leadership and determination of the upperclassmen. The team says goodbye to graduating seniors: Jane Snyder, Katie Cruser, Lauren Kavanagh, Mary Hill, and Mary Kate Vander Woude.

The men’s basketball team finished the season almost doubling their amount of wins from last season and left many reasons for hope and excitement for the future of the basketball program. Seniors Matt Rensch, Joe Townsend, and Sam McMahon will be missed tremendously, both in their performance on the court, and their leadership and example off the court. Matt Rensch finishes his career breaking the 1,000 points mark—a huge milestone in the life of any player.

The spring season saw the men’s baseball and rugby teams get underway after much anticipation for both programs. The baseball team was hampered by one of the wettest springs in recent memory and as a result had numerous games cancelled. Despite the hampering of the weather, the team stayed focused and dedicated and played close game after close game throughout the season just barely unable to secure victories. In the final 2 games of the season against Cheyney University, the team broke out of its shell. With wins of 16-5 and 29-6 which stands as the most runs a Christendom team has scored in the college’s history, Rob Hambleton hit 6 RBI’s and Matt Naham hit a 2-run home run. Seniors Troy Spring and Francis Aul pitched and got the wins for the team. Along with Troy and Francis, the team says goodbye to Sam McMahon, but looks forward to the future with many young talented players ready to get back on the diamond.

The Rugby team welcomed new Head Coach Mr. Don Briggs to the helm of the program. The Crusaders would play a tougher schedule than in recent memory and in the face of challenge rise to the task at hand, finishing the season 6-1. The team had notable wins over Lynchburg College, George Mason, and Hampden-Sydney. Unfortunately the last game of the season against American University was cancelled due to weather but would have been a huge game for the team. Jack Donahue, Ben Ranieri, and Aaron Tatum leave the team after graduating. Jack and Ben played huge roles in this year’s team both by their leadership off the field and their performance on the field. Despite the loss of these three, the team will return over 20 players for next year and has high hopes for another winning season.

With the end of the year, the Athletic program sets another “first” record with winning seasons for over half of the varsity teams. Of the 7 intercollegiate varsity teams, 4 of them finished with winnings seasons and one finished at .500. The success of the teams has much to do with the student-athletes who attend Christendom and dedicate themselves not only to academics and their spiritual formation, but also to a varsity team. I would like to personally thank all the coaches for their dedication and hard work throughout the past year and the players for all they do to strive to be Christian men and women on and off the field or court. Finally, to the Christendom Crazies who supported all the teams throughout the year, THANK YOU! You are a huge part of the athletic experience here at Christendom and none of the teams could have done it as well as they did without your support. I hope you all have a safe, holy, and relaxing summer.

2011 Lady Crusader Basketball

2011 Crusader Basketball

2011 Crusader Baseball

2011 Crusader Rugby

Q. It seems like Christendom’s Admissions Office is pretty efficient and organized. How big is your office and who works in it?

A. Thanks for the compliment! We do our best to be as efficient as possible, although we certainly can improve, as we try to each year. As we end this academic year, I want to thank all of my colleagues in my office for doing such a great job. In fact, this has been our best year ever!

As you know, I am the Director of Admissions and Marketing. I have been in this position since 2004 and am responsible for all aspects of recruitment, advertising, public relations, marketing, and admissions. I came to Christendom back in the early days of the College from 1986-1990, earning my BA in Theology, and then I attended our Graduate School, earning an MA in Theological Studies in 1998.

The Assistant Director of Public Relations and Marketing is Niall O’Donnell. He is responsible for maintaining our dynamic website (which he is currently totally redesigning…stay tuned), editing the weekly Chronicler, snapping photos of all of our events for use in our magazine, brochures, and website (along with our competent Chronicler reporters – Maeve Gallagher, Liz Sartor, and Madeleine Murphy), writing stories for publication in news media outlets and in-house publications, and creating all of our various movies, videos, DVDs, commercials, and other such things. Niall, the eldest son of Christendom College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, earned his BA in English Language and Literature from Christendom in 2003 and holds his Licentiate in Communications from Santa Croce in Rome. He has been working in my office since 2006.

The Associate Director of Admissions is now Eve Owen, whom you may remember was an Admissions Counselor this past year. She has recently been promoted to this new position due to former Associate Director of Admissions Mike Schmitt’s departure last week. I thank Mike for his two years of service and wish him well as he goes back to the stone-working, masonry business. Eve is responsible for traveling around the country, visiting high schools, homeschool groups, parishes, and other groups of people who might be interested in hearing about Christendom. She will represent the college at various conferences, college fairs, and other events. She will organize all of our Family Visit Days next year, and will work with high school guidance counselors and youth ministers to help students in their care determine if Christendom is a good fit for them. Eve, originally from Oregon, graduated with a BA in History from Christendom in 2010, after having served as the Student Body President, and she is now pursuing her MA in Theological Studies from Christendom’s Graduate School.

Beth Fettes, from New Jersey, is an Admissions Counselor who has been working in my office since her graduation from Christendom with a BA in English Language and Literature in 2009. She is responsible for processing all of the many applications to our undergraduate program and for organizing and supervising our summer programs for high school students. As a former summer program participant, Beth does a tremendous job of making sure that the Experience Christendom Summer Programs and the Latin Immersion Programs go off without a hitch. Additionally, she is our office’s lead singer when we perform in public. Happy

Liz Twaddle will be the newest, latest, and greatest member of our office, and she will begin as an Admissions Counselor this coming Monday. As a newly minted graduate of Christendom, with a BA in History, Liz will be responsible for answering the phones, responding to emails, sending out informational packets, giving campus tours, and arranging campus visits for prospective high school students. Originally from California, Liz is excited to begin this new adventure in her life.

Last and not least, we have a number of other people who do so much to make our recruitment efforts so successful. Emi Funai and Olivia Aveni just finished their sophomore years here at Christendom, and they have been the ones who are responsible for making follow-up calls to students who have requested information. They work a couple of nights a week throughout the academic year as part of their on-campus employment. Additionally, all of our many Student Ambassadors who have volunteered their time to help show visiting students what life at Christendom is like are indispensable and I am very grateful for their help.

There’s the line-up and, again, I thank you for your kind words about our efficiency. Although we are a small office, we try our best to be as personable and efficient as possible. Compliments and complaints are always welcome. Happy
Director of Admissions
[email protected]
800.877.5456 ext. 1290

If anyone has questions about applying, visiting, scholarships, financial aid, campus life, rules and regulations, majors, core curriculum, transfer credits, or even about the food here at Christendom, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.