It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like...


Name: Catherine Marra
Clifton Park, NY
Making long distance phone calls to loved ones and cooking omelets for the students on Sundays.
Who's your favorite professor or class?
Dr. Adam Schwartz of the History Department. His classes are always thorough and thought-provoking—I've learned the most in his classroom.
What extra-curricular activities do you participate in?
I've played soccer, joined in the intramurals, performed in the mystery Dinner Theater plays, and participated in the Sunday Morning Dish-room Choir.
What is your favorite thing about Christendom?
The availability of the Sacraments and the people here.
Why did you choose Christendom?
I can always trust the authenticity of what the professors say in class and since Christendom doesn't accept federal aid, it has the freedom to maintain a truly Catholic education.
What surprises you the most about Christendom?
The amount of talent and creativity in the student body. I thought all we were going to do was study. Boy was I wrong!
What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to sally forth with my liberal arts education to reinvigorate our society by "restoring all things in Christ."
Any parting words of advice for a prospective student?
Trust in our Admissions team! You can really believe the great things that Mr. McFadden and the counselors tell you about our college. The "Ask the Director" section in the Chronicler will greatly add to your understanding of what Christendom offers.


Christmas Formal

This past Saturday evening, members of the Christendom community—students and faculty alike—gathered in the Crusader Gymnasium for Christendom's annual Christmas Formal.

The Student Activities Council, led by Senior class president Ted Cantu, did an amazing job decorating for the event, as the gym was unrecognizable, having been transformed into a Christmas wonderland, Charles Dickens style.

The evening started at six o'clock, as everyone gathered for a tasty meal provided by the incredible kitchen staff. Dinner was followed by a brief address and Advent meditation given by College President Dr. Timothy O'Donnell. Following Dr. O'Donnell's talk, the senior class gathered to sing the “Senior Class Carol” which proved to be amusing for all. The Seniors were then invited to a cocktail hour in the top level of the gym to mingle with the rest of their class and their professors.

As soon as the music began, students hit the floor, heartily enjoying the last dance of the year, and the chance to forget about the upcoming finals for one lovely evening.

Students grab a few treats from the dessert table.

O'Donnell's address included St. Bernard of Clairvaux's meditation on the Annunciation.

Seniors David McWhirter and Stephen Tomlinson enjoy cocktails with College Chaplain Fr. Donald Planty and Philosophy Professor Dr. John Cuddeback.

Sophomore Matt Speer gives Senior Brianna Miller a dip on the dance floor.

Freshman Karolyn Pondo enjoys a dance with Freshman Marius Mello.

Juniors Daniel Traina and Theresa Lamirande glide across the dance floor.

Students take advantage of the "Photo Room" posing on a bridge in a winter wonderland.

Campion Christmas Party

The annual Christmas party in St. Campion Hall took place Sunday, December 4. The ladies decorated the floors according to themes, and both the men and women voted for which floor they thought was the best decorated.

“I was really impressed with all the hard work the girls put into decorating Campion for Christmas,” says Sophomore RA, Morgan Kavanagh. “The party put everyone into the Christmas spirit, and it was a great way to de-stress before finals!”

The lower floor’s theme was “Bethlehem,” mid-floor’s theme was “Deck the Halls,” and top floor won the contest with their theme, “Blizzard Forest.” Tasty Christmas treats were on every floor, along with hot chocolate and holiday punch. Because it was an open house, gentlemen streamed in to enjoy the Christmas cheer and to have a relaxed evening with the ladies. Many card and board games ensued in the ladies’ dorm rooms.

Students give an impromptu performance in "Bethlehem."

Friendly faces and tasty treats greeted all who entered Campion Hall.

Students play a game in the top floor hall.

Caroling in the Rotunda

In celebration of the Christmas season, the Christendom Library hosted “Caroling in the Rotunda” this past Wednesday evening in the foyer of the St. John the Evangelist Library. As students walked in and out of the library to study for their final exams, they could take a study break to drink hot apple cider, eat cookies and donuts, and sing Christmas songs along with the choir.

“I enjoyed getting to spend Christmas time with my ‘Christendom family’ here at school,” says Sophomore Lauren Enk. “I had a lot of fun singing my favorite Christmas songs in the Library.”

People flooded in and out all night to participate in the caroling, as the choir led everyone in singing their favorite Christmas songs, including “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Joy to the World,” “Hark the Harold Angels Sing,” and “The First Noel.”

Relaxing After the Last Day of Classes

Wednesday night, the students gathered in St. Kilian's Cafe to celebrate the last day of classes and the forthcoming Christmas break. Students enjoyed munching on snacks provided by SAC (Student Activities Council) and listening to the talents of classmates performing live music. Senior Matt Marchand performed several songs on the piano, and the band “Fools for No One” played as well, featuring seniors Richie Lancaster, Dan Beller, Ted Cantu, and Rob Fetsko.

The students really enjoyed the opportunity to hang out and listen to some great music before the flurry of finals begins on Friday.

Matt Marchand sings a ballad.

Student band "Fools for No One" plays a tune.

An Organ Recital for Our Lady

Thursday evening, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Beato Fra Angelico Fine Art Series hosted an organ recital in the Chapel, featuring student Sean Connolly.

Sean played a variety of complex organ pieces including selections by J.S. Bach, Michael Praetorius, and Buxtehude. The concert concluded with a Magnificat Sean himself composed for organ, accompanied by a violin and soprano solo. The final treat of the recital was Sean's incredible improvisation on a mystery theme, presented to him seconds before he had to perform it. The theme was a two line melody, written by Dr. Kurt Poterack, entitled, “Angular Melody in E flat.” Sean did an incredible job, and the Christendom community was extremely impressed.

Junior Luke Tillotson said of Sean's improvisation, “He is really incredible; he could improvise on this all day if he wanted to!”

Next semester, Sean will be performing a harpsichord recital for the Beato Fra Angelico Fine Art Series. Above, Sean and Dr. Poterack pose for photo following the performance.


With the Pope in Rome

Christendom College President Dr. Timothy O'Donnell delivered an address during the 20th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family in Rome, Italy. Held November 29-December 1, the assembly examined Blessed Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio and the challenges facing the family today. O'Donnell's address was well received by church hierarchy and members of the Council and on the final day he was able meet with Pope Benedict XVI once again.

O'Donnell was thrilled to be with the Holy Father again.

"I took his hands and said, 'Greetings from Christendom College,'" O'Donnell recounted of his meeting with the Pope. "Ah, yes! God bless you," was the Pontiff's reply.

Click here to read more about the O'Donnell's address to the Assembly.

Watch highlights from this event and an interview with O'Donnell:

Leadership Opportunities

This week, Chronicler Reporter Madeleine Murphy caught up with Student Activities Director Caitlin Bowers, who stopped amid the craziness of preparing for Christmas Formal, to answer a few questions.

Madeleine: How did you come to be at Christendom College?
Caitlin: I transferred to Christendom in 2006 from a secular state university. I was overwhelmed by the prevalence of the faith and genuine love of one's neighbor. I had never witnessed such beauty and appreciation for the Catholic faith. After I had graduated in 2009, I worked in fundraising and development for two years. I knew that God was tugging me toward formation and leadership development. When I saw this position of Director of Student Activities open, I knew that this was exactly what God had planned for me. I wanted to take the blessings that God had given me throughout my years at Christendom and share them with others.

M: What duties do you have as Director of Student Activities?
C: I oversee the operations of the Student Activities Council (SAC). The SAC is the social arm of Christendom. SAC, which is composed of class officers and appointed student representatives, coordinates and facilitates every social function that occurs on campus including dances, pub nights, movie nights, and so forth. I am also responsible for overseeing the operations of the various clubs on campus such as Shield of Roses, Holy Rood, Legion of Mary, Swing Club, Students for Life, and so forth.

M: What role do you play in the formation and professional development of the students at Christendom?
C: As the Director of Student Activities, I help the SAC learn how to be leaders and how to delegate. Each SAC member is assigned a specific event which they must coordinate. Much planning is involved in each event, and oftentimes the students can feel a bit overwhelmed with the project at hand. However, they quickly learn that there are several other students who are willing to help. This is the beauty of Christendom. Many students desire to give of themselves and give of their time in order to better serve others out of love of thy neighbor and, ultimately, out of love of God. Despite the stress and struggles that may come about when coordinating events, the SAC members fully recognize the beauty of service, and they are ready and willing to sacrifice their time without seeking any reward. They understand the importance of serving.

When it comes to professional development, the SAC members quickly learn how to manage time, how to delegate, how to budget time and money, how to recruit help when needed, and how to plan ahead. When given the task of leadership, the skills and strengths of each SAC member is quickly made manifest.

M: What is your favorite aspect of the SAC, and of Christendom College in general?
C: The greatest aspect of the SAC is the fact that these students work tirelessly every single weekend, guaranteeing fun and creative social events for the rest of the student body while not seeking any reward. They give so much of their time. It is truly a great sacrifice and a blessing. Additionally, I have personally witnessed several of the SAC members grow in leadership. While they take on these great tasks, I watch them learn. I see that they recognize their strengths and use them to the best of their abilities. They have become extraordinary examples to the rest of the Christendom student body. I can't express how proud I am of them all.

My favorite aspect of Christendom College is how much we resemble a family and not a mere institution. Everyone on campus knows each other by name. Just about every professor knows each individual student and what their interests are. There is a genuine feeling of love that is quite prevalent on campus. No one is anonymous. You are not a mere number which is typically the case at so many other colleges and universities. You are friend and family at Christendom.


Crusaders Basketball Get Wins as Fall Semester Winds Down.

Over the last 8 days the men’s and women’s basketball teams have both gone 2-1, with just one game a-piece left in the semester.

In contrast to a high school basketball schedule which is just now getting under way and which is the case for larger colleges due to their relatively short Christmas break, the Christendom basketball schedule is split in half between the fall and spring semesters due to the nice long Christmas break. With finals beginning today for the fall the semester, both the men and women’s basketball teams come to the end of the season, in a manner for speaking, as they prepare for a 5 week break before resuming the season in late January. That being the case both teams have had a successful last few outings with both teams going 2-1 in their last 3 games.

The men’s team got their first win of the season last Wednesday evening when they defeated Washington Bible College for the first time in two years. An important conference game, the Cougars of Washington Bible posed a significant match against the Crusaders. With many tough earlier matches to learn from the Crusaders came out ready to capture their first win.

Despite dominating the 1st half, the score at halftime remained close as the Cougars would keep it close from the free throw line, led by Derwood Till. The second half saw the Crusaders slowly and methodically pull away from the Cougars pushing the lead to double figures behind the offense leadership of Brendan Krebs and Brian Fox. David Townsend and Mark Hepler would all but shut down the Cougars leading scorer Derwood Till and the Crusaders would pull out their first win of the season in front of their home fans.

The Crusaders then traveled to Beckley, WV, to play Appalachian Bible College. With the momentum from the Washington Bible victory the Crusaders would take a few minutes to warm up and then would never look back. After just a 10-point lead at halftime the Crusaders would push the lead to 23 just 7 minutes into the 2nd half. Lead by a tenacious defensive attack from David Townsend, Mark Hepler and Pat Stein and balanced by the offensive attack of “The Brian’s” (Brian Fox and Brian McCrum) and point guard Brendan Krebs the Crusaders would hold on to gain their 2nd win of the season.

The women’s team got back into the win column last Friday night as they too played at Appalachian Bible College. Mary Barbale who has been averaging a near triple double with 26 points, 8 assists and 9 rebounds would lead the attack as she would find multiple Lady Crusaders for easy baskets. The Lady Crusaders were led defensively by Morgan Kavanagh and Hannagh Ethridge got into the mix as well. Despite falling behind in the early minutes of the game the team would focus, rally and never look back. Mary Barbale and Morgan Kavanagh would lead all scorers and the Lady Crusaders earned their 2nd win of the season.

The Lady Crusaders would host Division III Gallaudet University this past Monday at Crusader Gymnasium. Last year the Bison of Gallaudet blew the Lady Crusaders out of the water winning by over 30 points, this year would be very different. Led by a strong compacted defense, despite giving up speed and size the Lady Crusaders would hang in against the Bison keeping the score within 10 points for most of the game but unable to make that one run that would take the lead. Despite a terrific offensive effort from Morgan Kavanagh and both Bridget Vander Woude and Mary Barbale getting double figures in scoring and rebounds the Bison were just too big and too strong and would wear down the Lady Crusaders. Despite the loss to the Bison the Lady Crusaders played exceptionally hard and would never back down, a trait that helped them quickly get back into the wins column.

Hosting Lord Fairfax Community College this past Wednesday the Lady Crusaders hoped to make it 2 wins in their last 3 games. After just 5 minutes of play, the Lady Crusaders held a 22-0 lead over the Cannons and would coast for large portions of the game on track to their 3rd win of the season. Despite being outsized the Lady Crusaders would score time and time again in their fast break which usually included Mary Barbale dishing out long range assists to Morgan Kavanagh, Bridget Vander Woude or another one of the sprinting Lady Crusaders. The final was a 15 point victory for the Lady Crusaders who were led by Bridget Vander Woude who had 19 points.

Both teams finish up the semester this Saturday as they play host to Davis College from Johnson City, NY. In addition to being the last game of the semester both games are important conference games for the Crusaders. The Lady Crusaders begin at 12pm and the men will follow at 2pm.

Q. I wanted to let you know why I will not be attending Christendom for college.

  • It seems that there is less intellectual rigor at Christendom than at some other schools that I am looking at.
  • The emphasis, at Christendom, appears to be on the Catholic moral/spiritual environment and less on the "faith seeking understanding" education that could be offered by a Catholic school such as Christendom.
This second point is the most important thing that has caused me not to consider Christendom. It appears that, at Christendom, the moral life trumps the intellectual life (which I do not find desirable at an institution dedicated to learning). I'm not saying I object to a Catholic atmosphere, but I get the impression that, at Christendom, ideas, both opposed to and in favor of the Catholic faith, would not be subject to the rigorous examination that ideas ought to be. I feel that the difficulties brought up by works contrary to Catholic theology would be glossed over, and that the ideas of orthodox theologians and philosophers would be accepted without as much inquiry as may be desired.

A. Although this is not actually a question, I believe it is a very important topic to address. I have heard this line of reasoning before and I think that what we are doing here is somewhat misunderstood. So let’s see if I can answer these objections. This might be a little long, but hopefully worth the time it takes to read.

As to the first objection. You say that we offer less academic rigor than other colleges on your list. The answer to this objection is a bit subjective, I think. It is almost impossible to prove that we are more or less academic than this or that school. Every college, from the lowliest of community colleges to the loftiest of the Ivies tout that they are “academically rigorous.”

Two years ago, when
US News & World Report came out with the top Liberal Arts colleges in America ranking, my office called the admissions office at the top college on the list: Williams College. We asked a number of questions, with this one being the most important: Each year you are ranked as one of the top colleges in the nation, and are considered by many to be very academically challenging and rigorous. Why do you think this is the case?

The admissions representatives we spoke with did not really seem to know why they are ranked so highly for their academic offerings. I asked how many classes the freshmen take each semester. The young lady said four. Hmmm. Our students take six (and sometimes seven). I asked if their students write a lot of papers in their classes. She said, “Not particularly.” Again, our students write research papers in just about every Sophomore through Senior class (as well as in some Freshmen classes), and they have to write a Senior Thesis prior to graduation. I asked if there is a core curriculum required of all students? “No,” she said. Christendom offers two and a half years of a solid well-rounded core curriculum of all of our students. Do your students do a lot of reading outside of classes? “Yes,” she said. So do we. Lots! Do the students have the ability to meet with teachers outside of class? She said they do. And our students have that same opportunity. OK, so the average SAT scores of their students is a bit higher than ours, and their admissions selectivity rate is much better than ours, but I am not sure how one can say, objectively, that their program is any more academically rigorous than ours. Maybe their students are smarter, at least on paper, but that does not mean that what they are offering is any more academically rigorous than what we offer. I guess the whole thing comes down to your understanding about what makes a place academically challenging. I think Christendom is academically rigorous for these reasons:
  • Our students are required to do a lot of “outside of class” reading to prepare for their classes and to keep up with what’s going on in class. They are expected to attend class and to pay attention, participate, and take plenty of notes.
  • Our faculty are top-notch and well-educated (with doctorates from such places as Yale, The University of Notre Dame, Catholic University of America, University of Virginia, Duke, The Angelicum, and Northwestern University), with the vast majority holding a terminal degree in their field of study. All of our classes are taught by our faculty, rather than by teacher assistants.
  • Our students write a lot of papers, specifically 8-10 page research papers, for the majority of their classes, and prior to graduation, our students must submit a (normally) 40+ page Senior Thesis (and may have to defend it as well in front of their peers and professors).
  • Our students are given a lot of quizzes and tests throughout the semester to gauge their level of knowledge in the class, and normally, the mid-terms and finals involve a lot of essay-type answers, rather than simply fill-in-the-blanks.
  • The students are exposed to a wide array of subject matter in the core curriculum, having to read many original works – and many of the so-called Great Books – as well as secondary sources, in order to get a deep understanding of the material. There are no “Philosophy of Star Trek” type classes, but rather, classes such as “Metaphysics,” and “Euclidean Geometry.”
  • With a 15:1 faculty-student ratio, our students can meet and talk with their professors outside of class, in their offices or at lunch, to get a better understanding of their coursework. At many “academically rigorous” colleges, the faculty members spend a lot of time doing research and getting published, which may take away from the time that they can spend actually teaching their students. At Christendom, although many of our faculty do go on the “lecture circuit” and are published frequently, they are expected to be teachers first, and spend as much time as possible helping their students both in and out of the classroom. To hear the caliber of our teachers, you can listen to a number of their public lectures here. Look for lectures by Mark Wunsch, Brendan McGuire, John Cuddeback, William Marshner, Mark Clark, Eric Jenislawski, Douglas Flippen, and Timothy O’Donnell (
  • Our students normally take an 18 credit-hour load per semester for each of the first two years of college, then they take normally 15 credit hours per semester junior year, and 12 credit hours per semester for senior year.
  • Many of our graduates do very well on their various “getting into grad school” tests, such as the MCAT, LSAT, GRE, or GMAT, gaining acceptance to colleges such as University of Virginia, William & Mary, Fordham, Notre Dame, Oxford, The Angelicum, Northeastern, Catholic University, and so many others. And many of these students get very good scholarships to attend these graduate schools due to their academic records and achievements here at Christendom.
Now, on to the second objection. It is true that we tend to talk a lot about the very Catholic atmosphere that we provide our students. In fact, we are so bold as to say that at Christendom, “Catholicism is the air that we breathe.” All but two of our students are Catholic, all of our professors are Catholic, and all of them (not just the Theology teachers) take an Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church each year. For some, maybe this sounds “too Catholic” and they may want to breathe some other type of air.

But we, at Christendom, do not see any type of opposition between offering our students a very Catholic environment and rigorously examining all ideas (good, bad, moral, immoral, Catholic, atheistic, or even just plain old stupid), while at the same time, teaching all of our subject matter with a Catholic worldview. In fact, we examine all of the great (and not-so-great) ideas under the guiding light of the Faith, as the Catholic Church says we should do, but that does not keep us from discovering why we believe what we believe, or why this or that idea is contrary to the natural law, or why this type of philosophical thought goes against reason.

On the contrary. We discuss and examine many things that go against what the Church teaches, and then, after examining them, and lining them up with what the Church actually teaches (i.e. The Truth), we are then better able to come to an understanding of what we believe, and why. For example, we spend class after class learning about all the main modern philosophers, and what they had to say about things and how they thought. From my recollection, this course was one of the hardest because we had to learn how to think like the various philosophers: Hume, Kant, Hegel, Descartes, and the like. Then, after we learned how to think as they did, we then examined each of these philosophers’ thought in light of St. Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy. So, we examined ideas, learned both sides of the issue, so to speak, and then brought the teaching of the Church to bear on the subject matter so that we can know the Truth of the matter.

We do this all the time. In the class, History and Theology of the Papacy, we learn that there were lots of bad guys at the helm of the Church over the years, in fact, many of the former popes are not canonized saints, yet, the Catholic Church has continued to be the Bride of Christ! In Catholic Apologetics, we learn to defend the teachings of the Church against heresies and misunderstandings by learning how the enemy thinks, and why they hold differing views on the Truth. In Moral Theology, we take on many of today’s greatest moral issues and examine them in light of the Truth so that we can thoroughly understand why we are to act in accordance with God’s law and how we can talk with others who are living lives that do not conform to the moral law.

The idea that somehow it would be more academically rigorous or academically beneficial to wrestle with these ideas in a less Catholic setting is unfounded. If all we were doing was indoctrinating our students, telling them this or that and expecting them to simply read, memorize, and write the answer on the test, then I think we’d have a real problem. But this is not the case. We examine many ideas here at Christendom, even if they are contrary to Catholic thought and belief, and we come out knowing why we believe what we believe and are ready and able to help others come to the Truth.

As the Admissions Director, and not being a Professor, I may not have answered this objection to everyone’s satisfaction, but I hope that it at least gives you something more to ponder in this regard. If you have more specific questions about how exactly we teach this or that subject, or how we handle this or that way of thinking or intellectual argument, please let me know and I will try and connect you with one of our esteemed faculty members who can, I am sure, answer your questions to your satisfaction. Thanks for sticking with me on this long answer.
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.