Christendom sends forth largest graduating class

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Christendom College awarded a record 102 bachelor of arts degrees to graduating seniors May 16. Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass May 15 and received an honorary doctorate from the college during the commencement ceremonies. Alice Von Hildebrand was awarded Christendom's St. Catherine of Siena Award before delivering the commencement address.

During his homily at the Baccalaureate Mass, Bishop Loverde encouraged the graduates to look back on their years at Christendom with gratitude, and to look ahead to the future with hope.

At the commencement exercises, Christendom College President Timothy O'Donnell bestowed an honorary doctorate in humane letters on Bishop Loverde. The bishop thanked the college for the countless blessings it has brought the Arlington Diocese.

"I consider myself the most blessed bishop in the world," said Bishop Loverde. "Why? This diocese is not only home to one of the fastest growing flocks in the United States, but we are also home to one of the finest Catholic colleges in the entire country and beyond, here.

"To have a college so intently be pursuing truth, beauty and goodness and that upholds the teachings of the magisterium is a gift too uncommon in this day … I share pride in Christendom's continuing growth, and at looking out at the largest ever graduating class in its history," said Bishop Loverde. "As I accept the honor of this degree, I repeat what you already know: The most priceless thing you bring from this campus is your relationship with Christ within His Church. Drink deeply of His love and joy. As you go forth, to restore all things in Christ, know that the Lord is with you always."

Von Hildebrand drew upon Scripture and her own studies on feminism to give insights into the true dignity of women. Turning to both the book of Genesis and to the Incarnation, Von Hildebrand provided sharp contrasts to the horrors of abortion and the rejection of maternity by the world today, imploring the senior class to fight these trends in society.

"What is it that is so incredibly important about women today? The answer is very simple: the vicious attacks made by feminists on the beauty and dignity of being a women, and the incredible mission that women have in this world today," Von Hildebrand said.

Saturday's ceremonies began with a bagpipe-led procession from Christ the King Chapel to St. Louis the Crusader Gymnasium, where salutatorian Melody Wood of Auburn, Calif., welcomed more than 1,000 guests.

Assistant Director of Donor and Alumni Relations Vince Criste presented the Student Achievement Award to Peter Foeckler of Manassas for his dedication to the community.

Valedictorian Michael Kopp of Johnstown, Pa., related the weekend's events to Christ's farewell at the Ascension, and His promise to the disciples that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit to become witnesses in the world to the truth.

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

"Time will end, but a mysterious longing is beckoning you to that ultimate transcendent reality which the world is always trying to hide. May you always keep, through the fruitful culminating of faith and reason, a deep and abiding sense of God and a deep and abiding sense of that which is eternal, which He has planted in your heart, gaining you your purpose in life," O'Donnell said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015