Historian Hitchcock, former Baltimore cardinal honored at Christendom commencement

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Christendom College celebrated commencement weekend May 13-15, awarding 72 Bachelor of Arts degrees and one Associate of Arts degree, and honoring renowned historian James Hitchcock and Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Cardinal O'Brien celebrated the baccalaureate Mass May 13 and received an honorary doctorate during the commencement ceremonies. Hitchcock was awarded Christendom's Queen Isabel Catholic Vision of History Award before delivering the commencement address Saturday.

Hitchcock inspired graduates with wit and wisdom during his address, drawing upon his own personal history in the field of education to illuminate the need for strong, Catholic liberal arts colleges, such as Christendom, to exist in our modern age.

"When I was in graduate school, several of us got together with the idea: maybe we could start a lay Catholic college. Why? Because, if there was going to be any hope for a liberal Catholic institution, it would have to come from the laity. While our idea never got off the ground, whoever would have guessed that a wave of neo-Catholic colleges run by laymen would appear later, and that they would be the ones preserving the authenticity of the Faith, often against the infidelity of some of the clerically run institutions? We are celebrating, here at Christendom, a very triumphant event," said Hitchcock.

After receiving an honorary doctorate in humane letters, Cardinal O'Brien praised Christendom for its education and fidelity to the church over the past nearly 40 years, and he encouraged the graduates to become leaders in civic and church life upon graduation.

"I know how grateful all of you are to your families and to the faculty and staff of (the) college, for helping you reach this academic milestone. It's a privilege to come to Christendom, known throughout our country and beyond for its fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the quality of the education offered here, and the caliber and commitment of its students and alumni," he said.

During Saturday's commencement, Salutatorian Sarah Greydanus of Bloomfield, N.J., noted the similarities between the ritual aspect of commencement and the life the Class of 2016 led at the college. Looking at the daily motions only in themselves, such as the college's dress code, residential policies, and more, they might seem trivial, according to Greydanus. But seen in the light of God, they manifest and accomplish things greater and deeper: they help lead Christendom graduates to Heaven.

Vince Criste, assistant director of donor and alumni relations, presented the Student Achievement Award to Elisabeth Willson of Fort Defiance, Va., for her dedication to the community. Willson made great contributions to the academic, athletic and social life of the college as the campus' head female resident assistant, as a member of the choir and the varsity basketball team, and in her role as a counselor for the Experience Christendom Summer Program.

Valedictorian Amy Marter of Lake Village, Ind., delivered the farewell address. Moving graduates, families and guests with her profound and emotional reflection on the Class of 2016's accomplishments, Marter encouraged graduates to share the gift of Faith they received at Christendom with others, in order to fulfill the mission of the college to "restore all things in Christ."

Closing the ceremony, college President Timothy O'Donnell delivered his charge to the graduates.

"You have become and you are, in fact, bearers of light. That was key to Dr. Carroll's mission and our common vision in the founding of this college, in our call to 'restore all things in Christ.' My charge to you today, in this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy: be bearers of light," said O'Donnell.

Bachelor's degrees were awarded to Anne Adams, Patrick Audino, Kinsey Benz, Peter Blank, Mary Blicharz, Dominic Borchers, Anne Ciskanik, Clare Dempsey, Monica Dilworth, Jordan Eidle, Cecilia Flagg, Duncan Forsythe, Rebecca Francis, Andrew Garcia, Sarah Greydanus, John Hebert, Sarah Hein, Patrick Hilleary, Jacob Hiserman, Mary Hoff, Nicholas Jaroma, Robert Johnson, Corinne Kavanagh, Kaitlin Kelley, Maria Klosterman;

Rebekah Koerner, Magdalene Kopeck, Mary Lancaster, Emily (Norton) LaRochelle, Austin Leavitt, Elise Litterio, Cecily Lowe, Melissa Lucas, Amy Marter, Catherine McFadden, Robert McKay, Bridget McMahon, Miriam McShurley, Carol Lynn Miller, Michelle Miller, Jeremy Minick, Nicholas Murphy, Kayla Newcomb, Mary O'Reilly, Rebecca Ortega, Mary Clare Pilon, Emily Raabe, June Redman, Maryann Riccardi, Elisabeth Roberts;

Julia Rollino, Pete Ruhl, Sean Salmon, Michaela Sanborn, Allison Schmitz, Catherine Schneider, Sean Shanahan, Sarah Slaten, John David Speer, William Stamper, William Tomlinson, Bradley Torline, Mary Townsend, Jacob Wagner, Therese Weber, Eileen Weichert, Magdalena Whittaker, Elisabeth Willson, Veronica Wilson, Mary Woytych, James Wright, and Madeleine (Deighan) Zinman. An associate of arts degree was awarded to Stephen Miller.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016