Our website is made possible by displaying online ads to our visitors.
Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our site.

Student comes to Catholicism at Christendom College

First slide

Every journey in faith is unique yet also similar. A person might be a “cradle Catholic” or a later convert, but the end result is still the same: a deep, abiding love for Christ and his church. Max Dugan, transfer student at Christendom College in Front Royal, reached his journey’s high point when he was confirmed in front of the college community in Christ the King Chapel on campus April 12.

Dugan, a native of Carmel, Ind., was baptized a Catholic but did not attend his first Mass until he was 18 years old. Like many young people today, Dugan did not think about faith or God for most of his young life. He spent his days in public school, learning and spending time with friends but with no real direction.

Near the end of middle school, the question of faith arose in his mind, but it took a nosedive in high school. Dugan fell into a depression sophomore year, dropped out of school and chose to continue his studies online.

“At the time, I couldn’t figure out why I fell into my depression, but now I feel that a lot of the reasons were because of the existential problems with modern society,” said Dugan. “I went to a huge school, so I heard stories about suicide and drugs, and that really weighed down on me. After dropping out, I had way more time on my hands, leading to my search for meaning.”

His faith journey took several twists and turns. Dugan turned to politics, moving first from objectivism to Buddhism. He became more conservative but went too far, going alt-right and intellectually becoming neo-pagan. A study of the stoics, like Cicero, helped steer him back on track, and he eventually became a Deist. 

While most high schoolers are worrying about the number of “likes” on a social media post, Dugan was undertaking a heroic task that was as astounding in scope as it was inspiring in its end result.  

Like Blessed John Henry Newman before him, a study of history pushed Dugan further. Reading about the building of cathedrals and hospitals gave him a more positive outlook on Christianity, as did a study of C.S. Lewis’ writings. 

Eventually, he wanted more — a denomination to join. History showed him that either orthodoxy or Catholicism was the route to go. 

A deeper dive into a certain historian’s works helped him come to a conclusion. 

“I found out about Christendom through Warren Carroll’s books,” said Dugan. “I didn’t know that he had even founded a college until I looked at the back cover. So, I found the college through his books and, further, the third volume (‘The Glory of Christendom’) was what convinced me of Catholicism over orthodoxy, because of Carroll’s retelling of the Council of Florence.” 

Dugan arrived at Christendom still not really knowing his faith — that is when the Christendom community stepped in. His roommates, rather than shying from the task, helped Dugan grow and taught him to go deeper in prayer and a spiritual life. In the fall, Dugan received his first Holy Communion and and sacrament of confirmation this spring, after receiving instruction from college Chaplain Father Marcus Pollard. 

“I spoke with Father Pollard and met with him, but I was also able to speed along the process because of the theology classes I was taking … What I was learning in the classroom, from prayer to the sacraments, prepared me for confirmation and everything going forward.” 

Dugan was confirmed in Christ the King Chapel with his sponsor, Liam Daigle, standing behind him. Standing in the pews that day was Dugan’s father, Dave, a Methodist. During his entire faith journey, Dugan spoke with his father about everything. Through Dugan’s own conversion to the Catholic faith, his father will enter the church at the end of April. His mother and sister are in the process of returning to Catholicism. 

In a message to the Christendom community before his confirmation, Dugan shared how much the students, faculty and staff meant to him during his journey.

“I just wanted to thank all of you for being such a great community and helping me to truly learn to live the spiritual life,” wrote Dugan. “I can’t express how thankful I am for seemingly stumbling upon such a strong, authentic Catholic community, that has taught and continues to teach me how to properly live the spiritual life.”

Carroll’s books led Dugan to both the Catholic faith and Christendom. Dugan wants to now follow in his footsteps as a history major at the college. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019