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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas addresses Christendom College grads

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Christendom College celebrated commencement weekend May 11-13, awarding 110 bachelor of arts degrees and honoring Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Clarence Thomas.

Justice Thomas was awarded the college’s Pro Deo et Patria Award and delivered the commencement address Saturday. 

He spent all of Saturday with the graduates, processing across campus to commencement with them and taking the time to shake each of their hands as they crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. During his commencement address, Justice Thomas congratulated the graduates on their milestone in Catholic formation and encouraged them to continue to grow in their Catholic faith as they go out into the world. 

“This is a decidedly Catholic college, and I am decidedly and unapologetically Catholic,” Justice Thomas said. “It is this faith that has been the guiding beacon during some difficult and seemingly hopeless times, even when I had turned my heart against Him and turned my back on (faith). I have no doubt that this faith will do the same for each of you if you let it, and perhaps even if you don’t.

“It is not a tether. Rather, it is a guide — the way, the truth, and the life,” he said. “I congratulate each of you on this milestone in your Catholic formation. May God continue to bless and guide each of you throughout your lives and I pray that you know love and serve Him in this life, so that you can be happy with Him in the next.” 

Fr. Paul Scalia, vicar for clergy in the Diocese of Arlington, was awarded the college’s St. Thomas More Medal for Defense of the Faith and Holy Mother Church Friday evening.  In his homily at the Baccalaureate Mass, he spoke on the gift of fear of the Lord, relating that fear to the spirit that should fill every graduate upon such an occasion. 
“Reverence, or fear of the Lord, gives us a delight in the limits established by almighty God,” said Fr. Scalia. “The dominant view of education in our culture is irreverence. Our society associates learning with breaking rules and blazing new trails. But only fear of the Lord makes one truly receptive and therefore able to learn.”

Founding faculty member Professor Raymund O’Herron, who retired this month after teaching theology and philosophy to thousands of students over the past 40 years, was touched deeply when the college bestowed an honorary doctorate in humane letters on him Friday evening, and he received a long standing ovation.

“Many have said, ‘What will Christendom College be like without Ray O’Herron?’ ” the professor said. “But I am wondering, ‘What will Ray O’Herron be like without Christendom College?’ ” 

Closing the ceremonies Saturday, Christendom President Timothy O’Donnell delivered his charge to the graduates. 

“My challenge to you, this day: strong men and women of character. Be filled with the strength of faith, hope, and charity, armed with a love that is mature and responsible and reaches out to engage and try to transform this world of ours,” he said. “Before you leave today, I beg you once again to embrace the spiritual legacy of your families and the good that you found there. Embrace the good that your Church has offered to you, and the good offered by your alma mater. Don’t lose that trust and don’t become discouraged, despite the weaknesses that we have,” he said. “Do that, and you will not only dare to be great, you will truly be great, as together, united in our hearts and prayers, we seek to restore all things in Christ.”

Christendom College celebrated its 40th anniversary with a gala at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington April 14. Special guests included former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, and radio personality Patrick Madrid.

The 110 members of the class of 2018 are: Francis “Robbie” Adams, Jane Adams, Haley Ambreit-Quepóns, Elizabeth Anderson, ThomasAnderson, Mary Arnold, Emily Bailey, Gabriela Barajas, Anna Barren, Richard Blank, Catherine “Grace” Britten, Anthony Brooks, Josephine Brooks, Bryn Burgess, Aidan Callegari, Thomas Carney, Joseph Cavanaugh, Olivia Cerroni, Athanasius Clark, Julia Clark, John Paul Cook, Danielle Corcoran, Paulina Cuddeback, Joseph Cummings;

Margaret Daly, Rebecca Derks, Jacob DeVos, Maximilian Dewey, Alexandra Di Falco, Zachary Doll, Sydney Dominguez, Gabrielle Donlon, Mary “Genna” Ellefson, Kylie Feiring, Alexander Forst, Mary Beth Francis, Sophia Fusco, Isabella Gadapee-Tilden, Catherine Gaetano, Bridget Gaffney, Cecilia Gallagher, Rachel Gerring, Margaret Golden, Sarah Jane Goodman, Alain Gratton, Emma Hackett, Mary Hays, Bridget Hebert, Chloe Herrmann;

Mary Hoeck, Jensen Hoernig, William Johnson, Matthew Kavanagh, Carissima Keatley, Jack Lake, Danielle Lemieux, Dominic Mann, Angela Marsh, Melissa Marter, John Martz, Luke Maschue, Paul Maschue, Michael Mazzara, Clare McDermott, Maria McFadden, Ioana “Sophia” Mello, Sylvia Messing, Jacob Morris, Gabriel Murphy, Theresa Norris, Kevin Norton, Kieran O’Donnell, Sarah Obritsch, Catherine Olbrych;

Elizabeth Peterson, Michael Piorkowski, Madeleine Post, Garrett Quigley, Anna Rakoczy, Luke Romanchuk, Leah Ross, Nicholas Santschi, Robert Scanlon, Mary Schneider, Fiona Shanahan, William Skuba, Daniel Snyman, Molly Spiering, Veronica Stephens, Mary Storey, Mary Strickland, George Summers, Matthew Summers, Ashlyn Thomas, Bethany Thornton, Matthew Trojacek, Marygrace Tucker, Winfield Turner, Danica Urankar;

Sean Vance, Monica Vicente Gener, John Walsh, Alexander Watson, Logan Weir, Joseph Whittaker, William Wiegand, Katherine Williams, Eric “Joseph” Wilson, Morgan Witt, and Emma Wynne.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018