Giving Day 2020 Professor Stories
Going Above and Beyond in Times of Trial | Paul Jalsevac (’03)
If ever anything made it obvious to my family that my Christendom professors weren’t just great teachers—they were guides, friends, moral support, and yes, family away from home, for the students they care for deeply—it was how they stepped forward to care for my family and I after a car accident nearly took my life in my Sophomore year (2001) and left me in a coma at nearby Fairfax hospital.
Virtually every professor at that time offered support and prayers, but a few memories still stand out for my parents. When my parents arrived the day after my accident to be at my side, Dr. Kris Burns opened her nearby home to them. She put them up for 2 weeks and even loaned them a car! Every morning while my parents were in Virginia, they remember Dr. Burns making them coffee and packing them a delicious bag lunch for the day. When a round the clock prayer vigil was set up by my bedside, Pat Keats slept on the floor of the ICU waiting room so he could take a shift praying by my side in the middle of the night. And when Ray O’Herron came to the hospital to visit, my Mom laughingly remembers he and Kris Burns getting into a philosophy discussion about a can of Coke. A few weeks later I was transported to a hospital back home in Toronto, Canada. Mr. O’Herron drove all the way up to Toronto along with another family to visit me in the hospital. He stayed at my parents’ house and fit right in! Nearly 20 years later, I am still wowed at Mr. O’Herron’s extraordinary level of personal concern for one of his students.
Those moments of sharing and generosity turned into long-term friendships for my parents. For many years afterwards, they loved visiting Christendom to catch up with friends like Kris Burns, Ray O’Herron, and Pat Keats. When Dr. Burns and Dr. Keats passed away last year, losing them wasn’t just losing talented professors who helped to form their children, they lost friends. Dr. Burns, Pat Keats, and Ray O’Herron have been able to impact so many lives because Christendom was more than just a place of work. It was their family, their community. Thank you Dr. Burns, Pat Keats, Ray O’Herron and all the faculty members who were there for me and my family whenever it mattered!
Creative Proctoring | Sr. Immaculate, Apolostolic Sisters of Saint John (formerly Brittany Scheidler) (’09)
One of my favorite faculty memories is with Dr. Marshner. We were in St. Lawrence Commons about to take a final exam. He passed out the exams and stated that he would be leaving the room but would keep a tight watch over us during the exam. We were all perplexed but shrugged it off and dove into the exam. The windows behind us happened to be open that beautiful spring day and at some point we heard strange noises on the lawn outside. Eventually a student turned and saw Dr. Marshner’s vehicle parked on the grass facing the window. He was sitting in his convertible, with the top down watching us suffer through the exam while he happily puffed on his pipe.
Hands on Learning with Dr. Cuddeback | Trey Dusseault (’19)
One of my favorite professor memories is of Dr. Cuddeback. Part of his Family and Household class was the art of making a home and having a connection with your land and your food.
In Cuddebackian fashion, he had his class attend his family’s pig slaughter. It was an all-day event and very informative. After he shot the pig, he had a select few men of the class (myself included) hold down the gyrating hog while he bled it. We proceeded to observe as he expertly dissected his food and prepared it for storage. We had a lovely lunch of fresh blood sausage prepared by Mrs. Cuddeback and conversed of higher things. If that ain’t liberal arts, I don’t know what is.
Not Just Professors, But Mentors | Nicolas DelRosal (’19)
When people ask me what the best thing about my experience at Christendom was I always unflinching reply with: “The Faculty.” Over the four years I spent in college, I was always taken aback by the level of professionalism, attentiveness, and care the professors had for their subject matter and for us as their students. I can think of countless times where Dr. Brendan McGuire would passionately give a speech about the Roman Empire in his history classes, and then later switch his demeanor to a comforting figure one could go to for advice or to just rant about some issue.
Other professors like Dr. Joseph Brutto would also take time to familiarize himself with the students. I remember meeting with him and several of my classmates every Friday at 3pm to talk and catch up over a range of matters, be it political theory, academics, sports, or just joking around.
Dr. Chris Shannon spent hours on end helping me craft r a paper I had to write for ones of his history classes during Sophomore year. I met with him many times one on one on paper writing notes and he always helped me through. While his diligence and knowledge were impressive, I fondly recall the other subjects we would talk about during these meetings, and in my time I spent with him I learned so much more than the material I originally wanted to cover. The counseling on personal matters Dr. Matthew Tsakanikas gave helped me steer through several difficult situations that sprouted left and right. Even though I didn’t see it at the time, I can definitively say that his counsel greatly formed me into the Catholic I am today.
In spite of my best attempts, I must steal a quote from the Gospel of John and say that there are so many more instances that the faculty of Christendom have positively impacted my life, but I can’t fit them all here. What I can say, though, is that the faculty taught me so much inside and outside the classroom about life and have shown me wonderful examples of what it means to be truly zealous for the Faith.
More than Just Spanish | Karla Hester (’99)
Some of my favorite times were in the classroom with Madame Barone, God rest her soul. She once made a deal with us that she would not mark us as tardy or absent if we could give her a reason in flawless Spanish. Madame Barone had a gift for reaching every student and, so long as we spoke in Spanish, we could talk about anything. She was so classy and dearly loved all her students, wanting them to learn something new each class. Even twenty years later, I am truly grateful to her for providing such a meaningful and memorable classroom experience. Living in Texas, the Spanish idioms I learned from her definitely come in handy often!
Dr. Wunsch Shows His Skills | Clare Tapsak (’18)
One day, Dr. Wunsch showed us how competitive he can really be. The class was Eternity of the World, and it was 10 mins past when class should have begun (this was normal). As we were waiting, one of my classmates started handing out Hershey Kisses because it was Valentines’ day. Another classmate, whom I was sitting next to, took the chocolate, but said she couldn’t eat it because of some sugar-free diet. At that point, Dr. Wunsch walked in.
“I know,” she said, “I’ll throw the Kiss at Dr. Wunsch!”
“Oh boy. Not a good idea. How childish, he’d get so mad!” I thought. I bantered back and forth for 5 seconds with my classmate, but eventually…”Dr. Wunsch! Catch!”
And there went the kiss, flying through the air, and as any disoriented person would do, Dr. Wunsch missed the tiny piece of chocolate (I’m pretty sure he ducked because he was so shocked). I was ready for the reprimand. Class was already starting late, and here we are eating and throwing chocolate at aprofessor! However, I underestimated 2 things: the fact that being an upperclassman in a really hard class gave you special “goofing off” privileges, and that Dr. Wunsch is secretly 12 years old at heart. What he did next was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.
“Ha, that was a good one. Totally wasn’t ready for that!” He said. We were all laughing until his face grew serious and his eyes shone. (I’m serious, he had a mischievous glean in his eye) He looked straight at the student who threw the chocolate and said: “But, here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to throw that again and this time I’m going to catch it. In my mouth.” There was a brief moment of silence as we realized he was completely serious, but as students, we were always up for some sort of mischief! The student with the chocolate positioned herself in her chair by the middle aisle. Dr. Wunsch put down his Italian leather briefcase and stepped in front of the podium. Up went the Hersey Kiss. A perfect lob from the back half of the classroom. It sailed through the air, missed the low Commons basement ceiling, and miraculously found itself in Dr. Wunsch’s mouth – he had caught it! There were cheers all around. Class may have started after that, but I really can’t remember…
Our professors are way cooler than they initially let on.
Lots of Gratitude for Joyful and Giving Professors | Thomas Ward (’19)
What self-sacrificing, full of life and love, joyful, humble and humorous professors we are blessed with.
The night before orientation weekend in the hotel I received an email from Dr. Beer letting me know I was accepted to Latin 199- already I was excited for my first week at the college! Dr. Andrew Beer’s contagious enthusiasm for Latin softened my heart for the language and from his genuine love of the language and extensive 3 hours a week or more outside of class time helping me succeed drew my profound and lifelong admiration. Dr. Beer’s presentation was a refreshing as…. well… a beer. But with the refreshing knowledge that comes from a beautiful and rich presentation of the very depths of Lingua Latina. Thank you Dr. Beer!
Dr. Kelly, what an epic mustache! He taught me History 202 in a way I will never forget with his unique and lasting impressions of history, especially of the wars. His presentation on Kinsale Island in Ireland and his memories of boyhood riding his bike to the lighthouse I will never forget. I also will never forget the unique “whole of salvation history” prospective that happened one day in History 202 at the end of world war 2. It was as if the whole two-year core curriculum shifted like a puzzle and formed a beautiful history of God’s story of mankind. Thank you, Dr. Kelly!
Mrs. Hickson- definitely a second mother to me on campus. What vivid and profound reflections from Literature but also life lessons on Wednesday afternoons during office hours. I never appreciated poetry before college but after a semester with Mrs. Hickson, wow I am so convinced of the power of communicating not just words but a true feeling of experience through this art form. Mrs. Hickson is a true testament to how much our professors care for the whole person inside and outside the classroom with advice and encouragement to always strive for true excellence in all things. Thank you, Mrs. Hickson!
Brendan McGuire. What a man. A true example of selfless love for family, friends and all in his life. An example of living life in the moment. I’ll never forget the fireside chats on windy Ireland beaches with Brendan in his humble way telling us guys how to be truly catholic men in our world, leaders, and sacrificial fathers.
Joe Brutto, from his first semester on campus, brought true enthusiasm, energy, and passion for all students. His cigar evenings in the faculty quad provided vivid memories of the deep conversations outside of class but also lively debates in office hours and in rhetoric and public speaking.
Steve Kunath- challenged me to think outside the box and through constructive and fruitful, yet humorful critiques greatly improved my writing abilities as well as many other life lessons.
John Cuddeback- I’ll never forget the sight of Dr. Cuddeback hastening in a half run, half dignified walk- that only he can manage from talking late with students and hurrying to reach office hour or class. Dr. Cuddeback, thank you for the profoundly world-shaping experience of taking your family and household class.
Tremendous | Steven Ginski (’10)
‘Twas but a junior, the professor was Wunsch.
Our class did meet, not long after lunch.
We studied Aviccena, Aquinas, and Siger
Yet an oft uttered word was wont to linger.
lo, Wunsch stood there, peppy and smart,
Waxing eloquent on matters of heart,
The eternity of the world, a topic momentous,
as Wunsch oft proclaimed, it was “tremendous”
Tremendous! Tremendous! We knew him well.
These lofty matters did make his heart swell.
His verbiage contagious, we then spoke in kind
Until one day, he noted a friend of mine.
O my dear friend, thine questions have no tact
Tremendously true, tremendously fact!
300 tremendous’s put forth in an hour!
Hark! Behold! The word becomes sour.
And lo, ere long, as the class did discover,
The tremendous Wunsch was tremendously clever,
And as school progressed, like meat during lent,
Wunsch’s tremendous word was tremendously absent.
Halloween Costume Turned Friendship | Sam Phillips (’08)
Freshman year, I was bold and foolish enough to dress up as Fr. O’Kielty for the Halloween Dance. Like many students, I was fascinated by this eccentric, boisterous, devout, hilarious, and larger-than-life Irish priest, whose homilies were, to the untrained ear, often undecipherable apart from the litanies he would rattle off—all of which ended with the exhortation: “You have to pray.”
I had a knack for impressions and had taken to impersonating Fr. O’Kielty to friends. So when Halloween came around it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Of course, truth be told, it was really an opportunity to be a shameless flirt and go around heaping compliments on all the lovely “Sheilas” and “Marias.” So I found a cassock, got some glasses, made my hair white with multiple applications of baby powder, and made the rounds at the dance. One memorable moment was when I greeted Mrs. Rice while in character. She questioned my authenticity and responded, “If you were really Fr. O’Kielty, you would say ‘buon giorno, Madame Rice’ and then give me a peck on the cheek.” I hesitated for a moment, but then remembered an actor must always stay in character, and obliged the good professor accordingly.
Well, apparently, Fr. O’Kielty was tipped off because the next day, as I was walking out of Mass, I heard a booming voice behind me shout:
I turned around and there was Fr. O’Kielty, whom I had not yet formally met. I responded sheepishly, “Yes, Father?”
He glared at me and said, “Are you Phillips?”
Father’s eyebrows went up and he said ominously, as if he had found his target and was now going in for the kill, “Hmm…I’ve heard about you, boy.”
“Oh?” I answered innocently.
“Yes. You’re dead, my boy. D-E-D. Dead!!!”
That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Needless to say, for the next few months whenever I altar served for him or he passed me in the Chapel, the obligatory kidney punches and slaps to the back of the head were delivered with particular gusto.
As is the case for so many alumni, Fr. O’Kielty, with his wonderful humor and profound devotion to Our Lord, deeply impacted me. To this day, whenever I look at the stained glass window of St. Patrick in our Christ the King Chapel, I see Fr. O’Kielty standing there again, saying his prayers in Gaelic, asking his homeland’s great patron to return to drive out again those snakes that have once more reared their ugly heads. Fr. O’Kielty, céad míle fáilte!
Coffee and Calculus | Riley Damitz (’20)
Calculus I with Dr. Byers my freshman year took place at 3:00 PM, which is a terrible time for staying awake. I always managed because I was terrified of being called on, but quite a few others had no such qualms. One classmate in particular would consistently sit in the second or third row—and would consistently fall asleep every afternoon (he was brilliant enough to be able to do that and still pass with flying colors). We could tell it annoyed Dr. Byers to have people conking out in the middle of a lecture, but she didn’t let it get to her. One day, about halfway through the semester, she walked into our basement library classroom with a cup of steaming coffee from Sacred Grounds. Without a word—and with a wry smile—she placed the cup of coffee directly on the desk in front of the dozer. He smiled sheepishly as the whole class laughed. I think he didn’t fall asleep in class after that!
Mr. Brown Bets on Middle Names | Henry Love (’19)
My first experience of a Christendom professor was in my senior year of high school, I visited for just a few hours. I was slipped into one of Mr. Brown’s metaphysics classes and I vividly remember him stopping in the middle of class, to bet students that he could guess their middle names (completely random!) and he actually did it, he got most of the names right. Granted, they were all the classic catholic names, but still!
To this day, he has been a great friend and teacher. He has always left his door open to me whenever I needed to talk with him, even after graduation. He is definitely a character of Christendom, but surely a character to remember!
From Cliff Jumping to Book Clubs | Monica Burke (’17)
It is almost impossible to narrow down the number of stories and fond memories I have with all of the professors I got to know during my time at Christendom, so I will give a quick overview of a few of my favorites. After I graduated senior year, I attended Columcille Institute with Dr. McGuire. Even as he was recovering from another bout of cancer, we were the ones having a hard time physically keeping up with him! I will never forget when we all took turns leaping off of a cliff into the sea at the Friary. It took seeing Dr. McGuire doing it to convince me to face my fears and try it too (it was thrilling!). I remember staying behind after almost every single class to talk about philosophy with Mr. Brown, who humored all of my questions and encouraged my curiosity. My most treasured memories from Christendom are at Dr. Cuddeback’s home, reading aloud and singing under the stars. I’ll never forget when Dr. Wunsch came to our class whiskey party in Rome, or when Mrs. Hickson hosted a book club just to talk about a favorite novel among me and my friends, or all of the great conversations I shared with Dr. Bersnak during club meetings turned political debates. I could not include every professor here but every single one has changed my life for the better and I will be forever grateful.
Cheating Detector | Rachel Butek (’20)
I think the most memorable professor moment that comes to mind is from PHIL 201 with Dr. Cuddeback. We were settling down to take our midterm, and he says “now I’m going to be sitting here working on my computer, and it has a program on it to detect cheaters,” to which we all chuckled. Imagine our shock when 15 minutes into the test his computer started blaring sirens at us! Dr. Cuddeback immediately turned to one of the students to tease and gave him a scolding, and we all had a good laugh. It was a great way to lighten our moods during a pretty stressful test!
One of my favorite memories from freshman year is of the Beowulf bonfire that Dr. Reinhard hosted for his 102 students. We met down by the dock late in the evening, and he kindled the fire with last semester’s used blue books. We chatted about literature, and other topics and a senior who had taken Old English read us an excerpt from Beowulf in the original Anglo-Saxon. The best part was when we finished up: having put out our fire, Dr. Reinhard walked back with the handful of students who were still there, insisting however that we must walk without flashlights! It was a little scary, but really beautiful, and while we walked he told us stories about going out in the dark when he was a kid. It was a super special night, which has inspired me to host similar things with friends, as well as kindling a love of all things Anglo-Saxon which has grown a great deal since then.
Dr. Tsakanikas Loves the Avengers | Monica Guza (’20)
I really appreciate talking with professors outside of the classroom setting. One such occasion was during a home rugby game where Dr. Tsakanikas came over to chat. It was Parent Weekend and my family was there. He introduced himself and then after noticing Owen Kennedy he remarked, “Wow! When did the Avengers start playing for our team?”
Not Your Average Way of Starting Class | Mikaela Bailey (’20)
I had Mr. Brown for philosophy during my freshman year. His class was always one of my favorite classes to go to because he always found a way to shake things up a bit. Typically we could expect Monday trivia questions or a story from his days as the Dean of Students, but this one day he did something a little different. Before class started, Mr. Brown told us all that it was his mother’s birthday and he wanted to do something special before class started. He wanted to send her a special message, so he proceeded to pull out his phone, and dial his mother’s number. When she answered, Mr. Brown told her that his class had something they wanted to tell her, which was our cue to start singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her! She totally loved it! This is still one of the many stories I love to tell about freshmen year!
God Bless Dr. Keats | Andrew Briggs (’09)
I had known Dr. Patrick Keats for many years before I came to Christendom, but once I arrived there as a student, the relationship with him strengthened and grew so much more. I’ll always remember his spirit and love for teaching his students. He always gave sage advice and words of encouragement, whether it was regarding an English paper or a role in a play. God bless Dr. Keats
Fr. Skeris & Prandium | John Echaniz (’93)
When Fr. Robert A. Skeris arrived at Christendom in 1990, he was thinking in German (from his prior professorial role), teaching in English, and wondering why we couldn’t speak Latin or Greek. As the newest member of the Theology department, naturally he was given THEO 201, Old Testament, where he had us memorizing messianic prophecies, and taking weekly quizzes comprised of “three questions of startling simplicity, guaranteed to confound the proud…” Thus began the Christendom tenure of Fr. Skeris, whose legacy of soaring sacred music continues on campus to this day. Fr. Skeris could be an imposing figure – just ask any of the campus dogs who growled nervously at him as he walked past in his trench coat and hat. And if he sensed that you were a little too sure of yourself academically, he’d make sure you remembered your place. I’ll never forget one particular day in Patristic Latin. We were translating Saint Cyprian’s On the Lord’s Prayer as a group, rotating paragraphs among the four of us in the class. We had to know pretty much everything about our assigned paragraphs, down to the origins of the words. I was feeling pretty good about one particular paragraph, and he happened to ask me about a word for which I was truly ready – or so I thought. The exchange went something like this.
Fr. S: “Ehh Cubano, what is this prandium… tell me about this prandium.”
Me, smiling, brimming with confidence: “Well! Prandium comes from the Sansrkit root pra, meaning “early”, and dies, meaning “day”, thus “early in the day”, a meal taken early in the day.
Fr. S: “Mm hmm. Like a luncheon. What did they eat at prandium?”
Me, with smile fading: “Uhhh…”
Fr. S: “Oh you know, probably some cold cuts or other meats with bread and cheese… what time of day did they eat this meal?”
Me, with smile now dissolved: “Uhhh…”
Fr. S: “Oh well you know they got up earlier, so the midday repast would be…”
And so it went, a few solid minutes demonstrating the many things I most certainly did not know about the eating habits of the early Christians. Having taken me down a peg, he looked over his glasses and smiled a smile that was equal parts paternal and mischievous. Fr. Skeris used to say that those who made it through his classes were “in the club.” His classes were fun yet demanding; when you were through, you felt like you really accomplished something. Membership in the club also had its privileges. Those lucky enough to be invited to a Skerisian meal never left disappointed: the food, the wine, the conversation, and the cappuccinissimo were always marvelous. Fr. Skeris, let’s do prandium!
Dr. Carroll, an Unforgettable Mentor | Kieran DuFrain (’09)
My earliest memories of Dr. Carroll are from before I was in college. I attended Seton School, founded by Mrs. Carroll. When Dr. Carroll retired, he began sitting in on Mrs. Carroll’s classes. Invariably he would bring with him a book, often Tom Clancy. Sometimes during her history classes, Mrs. Carrol would have a date or a detail she hadn’t written down and needed help with. She would look over to Dr. Carroll hunched in his blue armchair and simply say, “Warren?” Although seemingly engrossed in his book, the good doctor was obviously paying attention. Without even looking up he would produce the needed information off the top of his head.
When I was at Christendom, I several times drove back to Manassas to pick up Dr. Carroll to come for one of his lectures. Conversation would often turn to historical figures, and his love for the great champions of Catholicism: Cortes, Isabella, Pelayo, Prince Charles Stewart, Jan Sobieski, John Paul II, etc. The man truly loved an underdog. I think a big part was because he had spent the last 30 odd years fighting for his own underdog Catholic school.
After I had graduated, I taught for 2 years at Seton. I was still there when Dr. Carroll had another stroke. I wanted to do something for him and Mrs. Carroll said that he would greatly enjoy being read to. I dug out my copy of one of his favorites that he had made me read while I was still in highschool: “The Ballad of the White Horse”, Chesterton’s epic poem about one of Christendom’s great underdogs. Dr. Carroll was weak and unable to speak much as he lay in his hospital bed, but as I came to one of his favorite parts I saw his lips forming the words Our Lady spoke to King Aelfred, “I tell you naught for your comfort, Yeah naught for your desire, Save the sky grows darker yet, And there sea rises higher. Night shall be thrice night over you, And heaven an iron cope. Do you have joy without a cause, Yeah faith without a hope?” More than any, I think those lines hit home with Dr. Carroll because of the faith he had that God would help him with his great work. In a rising sea of immorality and relativism, unphased by the obstacles of money, logistics, and what the world would call common sense, he and his compatriots established a beacon of Truth and a bastion of Catholicism. Long may it stand. Viva Christo Rey!
Professor, Producer, and Mentor | Nicole Feldman (’19)
There are so many wonderful professors at Christendom and so many stories I could share, but I can’t help but talk about Dr. Keats. I definitely spent the most time with him working on the production of various shows for the Christendom Players. He left the longest voicemails until it would cut him off before he had finished giving me instructions, so most days before I could get out of his classroom I was pulled aside to discuss something new involving the theater department or to check in on rehearsal from the night before. But my favorite story is how I once was almost asleep in my dorm room when Dr. Keats called me to say he had the cash box and the funds I needed for tech week. It was a weekday night at curfew, so this meant it was 12am. But nonetheless, Dr. Keats was waiting on the front steps of Campion. I threw on a sweatshirt and wandered outside expecting a quick transaction, as my friends would call them. But then Dr. Keats said, boys are allowed in this little entry hall right? So there we sat til 2:30am talking in the fishbowl. It started out about the musical, Drowsy Chaperone, but eventually turned into a life chat about everything. I will treasure that memory forever and it still makes me laugh to think about it. He was amazing asset to the college and is greatly missed!
Dr. Sullivan and the Muppets | Colette Hazinski (’20)
One of my favorite memories from my time at Christendom is of Dr. Sullivan. I was in her Children’s Literature class, which was always lots of fun. It didn’t matter if we were just discussing the literature, or doing something in a small group. But one day towards the end of the semester, she invited the whole class to come to her house to watch Muppet Treasure Island (because one of our texts was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island). So, a whole bunch of us went to her house where we were greeted with good eats as well as hot tea and warm apple cider. Not only did we enjoy good food and conversations, but it was also a throwback to our childhoods. It was a marvelous time and I will never forget it!
Dr. Andres Sings Pink Floyd | Joseph Hichborn (’08)
Freshman year is a scary time for all students, but especially those who, like me, spent their entire childhood homeschooled, and ESPECIALLY-especially those being introduced to college-level philosophy. Imagine the surprise of all of us piled into that chapel-turned-classroom, then, when Dr. Andres, in an attempt to break through the fog of our teenage attention spans, broke out into a unique rendition of “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd in the middle of class. It was instantaneously attention-grabbing and grounding for what we all believed to be a very abstract subject, and gave a tangible comparison to the point he was trying to make. The look of our shocked faces, of course, lead to our crooner letting loose with that infectious and one-of-a-kind “Dr. Andres Laugh” that everyone that’s spent more than 6 months on campus can instantly identify. From that moment on, his was one of my favorite classes.
A Favor from Dr. Byers | Joshua Butek (’19)
There are, of course, so many memorable stories I could relate here, from Dr. Cuddeback’s end-of-semester parties to Mr. Brown’s hikes to Dr. McGuire throwing candy at me in preparation for a midterm, but I will focus on one unique to my experience. Dr. Byers is probably one of the quietest faculty members at Christendom, and I only ever had one class with her (since I was doing my best to avoid math), but I remember distinctly the fact that she used an antique fountain pen to grade our homework. This caught my attention, and I commented on it one day after class. We got into a wonderful conversation about calligraphy and the importance of beautiful handwriting, and I learned that her brother liked to repair antique watches and fountain pens as a hobby. I had recently acquired an old fountain pen that had belonged to my great-grandfather, and I asked whether Dr. Byers’ brother might be willing to look at it for me, since it was not in working condition. She said she would ask, and a few classes later she told me that he would be happy to take a look and gave me his address. I sent the pen to him, and a couple of weeks after that received it back, cleaned, polished, and in perfect working order, with an entire bottle of ink besides! I was so grateful to Dr. Byers for her willingness to do something totally gratuitous for me, and I am very happy to be able to use my great-grandfather’s pen.
Advice from Madame Barone | Rebecca Spiering (’05)
As usual in Madame Barone’s French 201 class, my face twisted as I tried to answer correctly. Madame Barone, who was sick of looking at it, said, “MADEMOISELLE, if you keep doing that, by the time you’re thirty, you’re face is going to be one big WRINKLE.” I appreciate her efforts. Repose en paix, Madame.
Lunch was Better with Mr. O’Herron | Matthew Hill (’20)
I’m walking out of 11:30 daily mass and my stomach is starting to growl and then I see the line into the commons; out the door, past the fountain and even starting up the side walk toward the chapel. Not a pretty sight. There are two things which make the sight bearable, 1) the fact that there is food at the end of it all and 2) that I promised Mr. O’Herron the day before that I would play him in a game of backgammon during lunch. I’d walk over with my food (which in hindsight was a silly decision because it was cold by the time I finally got to eating) and Mr. O’Herron would pull out of the inside pocket of his sport coat a sandwich sized Ziploc bag with the following contents; a printed backgammon “board” folded twice, 30 mini backgammon checkers and a set of dice. I loved every time I had the chance to play Mr. O’Herron in a game of backgammon. Yes, I enjoyed playing the game itself, but more than that, I loved spending the time with Mr. O’Herron, who’s joyful spirit lifted mine in ways that lunch could never do. I’m not sure if I can ever become the person Mr. O’Herron is, but at the very least, one day I will have a portable backgammon set in my coat pocket. Thank you Mr. O’Herron for the memories.
Literature Faculty Going Above and Beyond | Sherry O’Donnell (’02)
I have to mention our incredible English literature faculty who made my Christendom experience that much more special. I cherish memories of when Drs. Keats and Rice invited us to their homes to watch classic films of Shakespeare or Austen, or the epic end of year English major parties at Dr. Lloyd’s home, where poetry and the muse were out in full force. But in particular I had to mention my exceptional Senior Thesis experience with Dr. Marciano. When I heard at the end of my Junior year that she was expecting a baby over the summer, I had a moment of panic as I had my heart set on having her direct my thesis on Shakespearean comedy that fall, a subject that was her specialty. However, she generously agreed to direct my thesis anyway, despite her being on maternity leave for the Fall semester. One particular afternoon, I called her at home in distress that I was “stuck” writing a particular chapter. She kindly invited me to her home right then and there, and we discussed Shakespeare in her living room, while she rocked her infant son. Dr. Marciano and all of my English professors welcomed us into their homes and their lives and I will never forget it! So, thank you Dr. Marciano, Dr. Keats, Dr. Rice, Dr. Lloyd, Dr. Stanford and Mrs. Fahey, for giving me a love of literature and for your dedication and care!
When Defining the Good Goes Badly | Eric Maschue (’13)
During one of the first days in Professor Cuddeback’s class, either modern or medieval philosophy so we should have known better, he asked us what Aristotle’s definition of the good was. After waiting an appropriate amount of time in silence and double-checking that we had no idea, he excused himself from the room. We remained in silence for about five to ten seconds when a cry of anguish that could have only belonged to the same Dr. Cuddeback rang through the wall of the classroom coming from the other room. We remained in relative silence until he returned to calmly to let us know what the definition was. Besides this, he taught me the purpose of the new evangelization and inspired me to become a missionary and changed my life.
Racoons and the 1812 Overture | Cat Jackson (’19)
In Philosophy of Art and Beauty with Dr. Flippen, we were going over music and different theories of what music was in the world of art. Anyone who has had Dr. Flippen knows that every now and then, when he’s putting forth a really interesting point that’s based on his own thought or experienced, he’ll pause in the middle of a lecture, hold his hand to his forehead, and change tones – usually a sign that something interesting is about to happen. So, he pauses in the middle of this philosophy lecture, takes a deep breath, and says: “So, I once had… a family of raccoons in my attic.” That alone made a lot of us start laughing, and we all learned that day that raccoon infestations can be deterred with the power of the 1812 overture.
Mercy for the Sick | Mary Frank (’13)
I remember one day when I was about to take my mid-terms for a theology class with Dr. Eric Jenislawski. I was very sick with a fever and we were required to study for ten different essays. Dr. Jenislawski told us he was going to circle two essays from the list of ten for us to write on. And that would be the full test. Because I was sick I only studied eight of the essays and made a gamble that he would circle two of the ones I had studied for. When it was test time, he passed out my test and I made a notable sigh of relief when I saw that it was two essays that I knew. Dr. Jenislawski noticed that I was relieved and to tease me he took that test away from me and gave me a new one and laughed! At first I laughed too. But when I looked at the new one, one of the essays I had not studied for at all! I knew that my grade was an automatic 50 because each essay was half of the grade! As shock began to set in, I immediately burst into tears! Dr. Jenislawski, realizing he had made a cruel joke, took me out of the classroom and made a huge apology! I admitted that I was sick and that I had only studied for eight essays of the ten and only knew one of the ones he had circled. He told me not to worry about anything and to get some rest and not to even take the test today! I was so thankful and we had a good laugh! I took the test on a different day and ended up getting an A or B.
Made it through Math | Sydney Dominguez (’18)
“And we’ve also decided to start a new math major this year–write your name down if you’re interested.” Dr. Byers passed a sheet around our Calculus I classroom in the library basement. “Uhhh, how interested do we have to be?” one of my classmates asked, passing me the sheet. “Hmm, why not?” I thought, scrawling my name down. “Oh wait, I stink at math, though…” A week later, Dr. Townsend called me into his office (which I believe is now Mark Rohlena’s), scattered with books, telescopes, and half-assembled Macs. “So you’re interested in the new major?” “Well, I’d really like to do PoliSci, sir.” “Oh, that’s no problem! Here’s your schedule,” he said, handing me a course plan for the next seven semesters. “Wow.” Fast forward to a couple weeks later, and I was reading course descriptions for the upper level classes. “Dr. Byers—” I asked shakily, trying to understand what the heck “ring theory” was, “This looks really hard.” “Well, if it makes you feel any better, I was in your place too once.” “And you did it?” “…Well, I’m here, aren’t I?” Every single semester, I considered quitting the math department. I would never have been able to be a math major (let alone pass the calculus sequence!) without the support and guidance from the amazing teachers in the department: Dr. Byers, Dr. Townsend, and Doug Dailey.
A Tribute to Fr. Berbusse | Nancy Briggs (’82)
Most people probably do not stop to think about the significance of “Berbusse Lane,” across from the main entrance of the College. This road was named after one of the College’s most beloved professors, Fr. Edward Berbusse, S.J. During his tenure at Christendom from 1981-91, Fr. Berbusse taught in the History, Theology and Political Science departments, and was the first priest to live full-time on campus, serving the community as Associate Chaplain from his residence at St. Teresa Hall.
Fr. Berbusse was well-known for the sheer breadth of his academic learning, being an expert in American, British, Latin American and church history, American constitutional law, and all areas of Catholic theology. Attending one of his classes was like being in the presence of a living encyclopedia. Despite his academic brilliance, he was a very simple, humble, and prayerful man with an infectious smile, which often preceded words of encouragement and affirmation for every student. Thank you, Fr. Berbusse, for your inspiring teaching, your example of holiness, and the wise spiritual direction you gave to so many in the early, formative years of Christendom. May you rest in peace. Note: Fr. Berbusse is buried near the birthplace of his favorite saint, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, in the Jesuit cemetery at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, NY.
Taking a Chance on Me | Michelle Peters (’85)
I have many stories I could submit, so many amazing teachers at Christendom and in fact a couple now that I knew as students. But, I will go to the top and speak about our beloved president, Dr. O’Donnell. I came from a background of all public school yet had read saints books and our family had befriended a wonderful Catholic priest who taught us to love Mary and gave us tapes to listen to, yes I said tapes, as in cassette tapes.
I came to Christendom thinking I knew so much about Theology and then met Mr. O’Herron. It wasn’t long before I realized I knew NOTHING about Theology. I struggled trying to keep up in his classes and his always, sometimes, never tests. When finally it came time to meet my advisor, who was Dr. O’Donnell, to choose a major, I walked in wondering if he’d allow me the one choice I was so hoping to to choose, Theology. He looked at my Theology grades and me for awhile and thoughtfully said, “ I’m going to take a chance on you”. That was all the motivation I needed since I thought he was such an amazing teacher and his zeal for the Faith had really inspired me. My grades turned around and my Faith so strengthened with all the classes and seeing other “normal” kids actually speaking and showing devotion to God, something unheard of at my public school. Now, 30 years later, I have taught Catechism to students from 10th grade down to 2nd graders for the past 30 years, teaching hundred of students that love of God I learned at Christendom! I Love the Faith more than ever, thanks Christendom and thanks Dr. O’Donnell for taking “a chance on me;)
Going Above and Beyond in a Time of Illness | Alexis Miller (’20)
In September of my freshman year, I became extremely ill. I had only just gotten to Christendom when I came down with a flu which turned into severe pneumonia, for which I had to be hospitalized and miss three weeks of school. It’s a daunting situation for any student to be in, let alone one who still hadn’t figured out exactly how college works. I know to this day that the reason I didn’t have to drop out that semester, which I had every legitimate reason to do, was because of Christendom’s faculty. I went through the motions of emailing all my professors, explaining my situation and announcing that I would have to be absent for so long. “What could they possibly do for me?” I thought to myself. “They barely even know me. Why should they care to go out of their way so that I don’t fail?”
I was not at all prepared for the flood of kindness, empathy, and understanding that immediately came my way. Dr. Beer forgave all of the quizzes I had missed, without a second’s hesitation. Dr. Tsakanikas told me that he himself had had pneumonia over the summer, and so was highly sympathetic to helping me to catch up, but at my own pace of recovery, of course. Dr. Keats (God rest his soul), arranged for me to make up my midterm on the Iliad by coming to his office hours and chatting through the poem with him. Dr. Byers showed me so much kind and care by tirelessly working with me in her office hours so that I passed calculus. She even congratulated me for not dropping the class when I turned in my final exam. Dr. Snyder blew me away with his selfless response. He told me to focus on resting and rebuilding my physical strength and then catching up in all my other classes before even beginning to make up his coursework. Dr. McGuire, whose midterm I had also missed, devised a paper for me to write instead, since he didn’t think it fair that I had missed so many lectures. For, as everyone knows, there really isn’t a way to replicate the McGuire classroom experience if you weren’t physically present. As I sat across from him in his office that day, I was stunned when he said to me, “I cannot even imagine what you’ve been through and what you’ve suffered and I’m so sorry”—for HIM to be saying that to ME. It meant so much more than he knew and I still get emotional when I think about it now. The main reason I chose to come to Christendom College was the academics. I was so excited for the classes themselves, that I confess I hadn’t thought much about the human element of that equation until I was forced to. I realized that to these professors, the students are their whole world. Everything they do is out of the love and care they have for us. They see each and every one of us as human beings in their entirety, rather than just a name on a roster. While my situation certainly wasn’t ideal, it was the first big revelation I had as to just how special Christendom is—and what a revelation it was.
An Incredible Mentor, Fr. Riley | Carolyn Dunlap (’98)
The professor who had the most impact on me was definitely Fr. John Riley! I was a brand new convert to Catholicism and I knew that having a spiritual director was important so about a week into my Freshman year I sought out Fr. Riley to ask him if he would be my spiritual director. I had heard him preach and he was so incredibly dynamic and had a zeal for the faith that was inspiring and engaging! I think he was extra touched by being asked for spiritual direction at that time because it was also his first week on campus and I was the first person to ask this of him. What followed was a great friendship and mentorship that has lasted to this day!
Beginning in the classroom, Fr. Riley was the first to teach me the deep truths of scripture. What a gift! On campus social life, he would lead hikes and canoe trips and have Mass outdoors. All of these things helped me to fall in love even more deeply with my new faith. In my personal life, he helped form my moral conscience and he was pivotal in guiding me to determine my vocation.
At one point in sophomore year I was ready to leave school and run off to join the Nashville Dominicans…Fr. Riley counseled me that since God had brought me to Christendom (that’s another story but truly God’s hands at work), that I should finish my degree there first and then if I still felt called to the Dominicans then I could go at that time. He laughed and warned me though that often God had a sense of humor and I may end up being the mother of a large family of eight children! We laughed about this because it seemed so huge considering that I had grown up as an only child. What wisdom Father had because I ended up as a mother of eleven children…two of whom are waiting for me in Heaven! And ironically, even though I had never been to Nashville at the time, I ended up moving there and teaching kindergarten with the Nashville Dominicans about 15 years later. God truly did have a sense of humor!
Beyond school, Fr. Riley was instrumental in the spiritual formation of my future husband. He was the first one to give him the Eucharist and even confirmation due to special circumstances. Father Riley ended up being our first child’s godson as well. He also took pity on us as a newly married couple with a baby on the way because we had LITERALLY no furniture. We slept on blankets on the floor and we ate our meals off of the top of a portable cooler while sitting on the floor. Father gave us enough money to get a dining room set, a bed, and a crib. We were eternally grateful as you can imagine! We have always held such a special place in our hearts for Fr. Riley. He has visited us through the years to stop in for a shared meal and to catch up on our lives. He is such a special gift to me and he reminds me of the beloved apostle John…so zealous to bring God to the people! He forever changed my life! What a blessing!
Not A Silly Nickname | Tt Crnkovich (’20)
My favorite aspect of the faculty at Christendom is how personally they know their students, calling each one by name. Having gone by Tt for most of my life, I preferred to be called by my nickname rather than Theresa but also a little embarrassed telling my professors that, because it seemed like a childish name. The funniest reaction by a professor came in Dr. DeFrancis’ THEO 201 class. On the first day of Old Testament class, Dr. DeFrancis walked in and greeted the class of brand new sophomores. “Alright everyone,” he said, “I’m gonna call roll. If you go by any nicknames let me know! Oh but wait!! Don’t give me any silly nicknames,” he warned. Then he continued, animatedly, “For instance. One time I had this student at Notre Dame whose name was Devante Neil and he was a big guy, football player, tough, deep voice, you know. So here I was calling roll and I call out his name and he responds, *lowering his voice* “yup. That’s me…but mah friends call me Tay-Tay.” While the class burst into laughter, Dr. DeFrancis emphasized, “Tay-tay!! Can you believe it?! What a ridiculous nickname! Alright time to call roll.” As I listened to him go down the list of my classmates, my face got redder and redder as I thought about when he would call on me, dreading the moment when I would tell him my nickname. He got to the C’s…”Theresa Cook?” “Here.” I was next: “Theresa Crnkovich?” “….here…” I replied and then added slowly “but everyone calls me Tee-tee…” There was a brief moment of silence as Dr. DeFrancis looked at me incredulously. “You’re kidding!” he exclaimed. As I shook my head in denial, he got red in the face and laughed at himself saying, “I am SO sorry! I had no idea. I did not mean to be making fun of you or anything like that…! Oh my gosh…you can be Tt in my class….I am so sorry! That’s not a silly nickname!”
Daily Mass Motivation | Abigail Wilkinson (’17)
It’s hard to choose just one story, really: I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t been shaped by the enthusiasm of Dr. Beer and the thoughtfulness of Dr. Schwartz, by discussion groups with Dr. Bersnak and by encouragement from Dr. Kelly. And yet now, writing during a period of time where the faithful cannot attend Mass, I am especially grateful for a piece of advice from Dr. Brendan McGuire that has stayed with me. Of course, like many Christendom students, my memories of classes and conversations with Dr. McGuire are filled with impressive Latin orations and questionable matchmaking advice. But I also remember him telling us that throughout his academic work, family life, personal trials, and international research, the most important habit he had formed was going to daily Mass. In prioritizing Christ in his daily routine, everything else would fall into place. In the years since, I have tried to implement that advice in my own life and I’ve never regretted it. Just a few weeks ago, I was industriously putting the finishing touches on a paper for one of my graduate courses when a friend stopped by to ask if I wanted to come to Mass. I was tired and busy and wanted some time to relax before class but Dr. McGuire’s voice popped into my head. If my life as a student isn’t for the greater glory of God, what am I really doing here? I closed my laptop and told my friend about Dr. McGuire as we walked the half mile to Mass. “What incredible professors you had,” he remarked. As I reflected upon the professors who became mentors who became role models and friends, I smiled. “You have no idea.”
Thank You Dr. Mirus | Doug Briggs (’83)
Perhaps most instrumental in shepherding me through Christendom’s academic program – keeping as best he could my attention on coursework amid the many distractions of even those relatively austere years – was Dr. Jeff Mirus, the Founding Professor with whom many of our Alumni are probably least familiar. Dr. Mirus was officially (insofar as anything was official in those days) the “other” member of the History Department, but like most of the founding faculty he taught in other disciplines and wore other hats as well. By the time we arrived (in 1979, the College’s 3rd year), he was the Academic Dean, the Director of Christendom Press, Editor of “Faith & Reason”, and Registrar – all in addition to his teaching duties. Jeff and his wife Barbara initiated “Lenten Soup Nights” for students who wanted a humane meal off-campus for a change of pace. And when he assumed Director duties of the fledgling Development Office, he was inspired to form a swing band – comprised of faculty & student musicians – to perform at College fundraising events in various cities in the eastern US. In these and many other ways, he helped keep us sane in what was otherwise an often challenging environment, and for that and many other kindnesses I am deeply indebted.
Class Meets Nepalese Cuisine | Josh Mead (’20)
My favorite professor story is from Freedom of the Will with Mr. Brown. Late in the semester, he asked our class if he could take us out to lunch one day at the local Nepalese restaurant that he had taken a liking to. Of course we had to say yes, so one Monday morning in November, instead of meeting for class at 10:30 we went into town and had an awesome Nepalese cuisine for lunch. Mr. Brown then gave us a short class in the restaurant (which was also really good) for about 20 minutes. We played a few games and headed back to campus. It was a great memory and just one example of the generosity and kindness of Mr. Brown.
Don’t Forget the Incense | Vince Criste (’98)
Back in the day, when we had to walk to the chapel up hill both ways, there was an 11:30am Mass and a 4:45pm Mass with adoration held in the hours in between. Due to my class and work study schedule, I frequently served at the 4:45pm Mass. On this particular day, Fr. Robert Skeris, our chaplain, was saying the afternoon Mass and therefore handled Benediction. I arrived as usual and donned my cassock and surplice to serve and assumed that the sacristan had everything ready to go. (Spoiler: bad assumption!) So we proceeded to Benediction from the back sacristy and when it came time to spoon plentiful heaps of incense on the red hot coals, the boat was empty. NOT. ONE. GRAIN. Being a experienced server who could roll with the punches, I assumed (another bad assumption!) that Fr. Skeris would “fake” the incense and keep going not batting an eye and keeping this our little secret. NO CHANCE! His eyes darted back and forth from the empty boat to my calm eyes. Then from empty boat to my to my slightly concerned eyes. Then from the empty boat to my worried eyes (and perspiring forehead). Even though we were comparable in height, each time he looked at me I physically felt that I shrank about a foot in stature! Then, after enough eye-batting foolishness, he turned and with a booming voice so loud I thought it was the second coming he said: “WHERE IS THE INCENSE!? WE CAN’T HAVE BENEDICTION WITHOUT INCENSE!” Oh yeah! right. Ops! Sorry about that Fr.! Now that I am 2′-2″ tall, let me me rush back to the sacristy and refill the boat (pausing only to beat the sacristan silly). As I turned to leave the alter, there was the sacristan (name purposely omitted to protect the guilty!) who had tip-toed up to the altar and in an understanding whimper said “Sorry!” and handed me a full boat of incense so we could continue. After that little episode, I NEVER assumed the sacristan had everything set up in advance! And Fr. Skeris, who brought so much beauty to our chapel through his sung Masses, ended up witnessing our wedding. Thank you Fr. Skeris for your love of the Mass, of sacred music and for not cutting corners!
Help from Dr. Kelly in a Time of Need | Eileen Williamson (’19)
Our professors have many admirable attributes. There are a great number of stories, too many to relay at one time, that we could share illustrating the humor, strength, compassion, and generosity of our Christendom professors. However, something I most appreciate is their ability to make the best of poor situations. Dr. Michael Kelly was certainly the greatest help to me when I found myself in a sad spot. First semester senior year, I tore my ACL and meniscus during orientation weekend in a game of dodgeball (I have yet to come up with a less pathetic story). Surgery to repair the damage took place at the beginning of the second semester, causing me to miss the first 2 weeks of my last semester at Christendom, the semester in which I was to write my thesis. It was a situation I was unprepared for and proved to be trying in many ways, but with the aid of Dr. Kelly (and many others, to be sure, too numerous to name) it was a wonderful end to my college career.
From the beginning of the undertaking, Dr. Kelly provided phenomenal encouragement and support. He was only an email away while I researched early modern Europe, trying to discern what I was to write on from my bed at home in a full leg brace – a poor substitute to the wealth of information to be found in St. John’s library indeed. Once back at school, Dr. Kelly accommodated my limited mobility and would check in to see how I was progressing, not only in my writing, but physically and mentally as well. Dr. Kelly challenged me to push myself and gave me no chance to become disheartened. The road was long, but aided by the good spirits and tireless help of a remarkable professor, I was able to keep up with the challenges set before me and savor the wealth of knowledge that Christendom had to offer.
The Mentorship of Dr. Keats | Annie Sullivan (’20)
As a freshman, I was very intimidated by office hours and dreaded going in the first weeks of my first semester. However, Dr. Keats was my academic adviser as well as my ENGL 101 professor so I had to go see him at the very beginning of classes. He was so sweet and welcoming, asking me about my transition at school, what I wanted to major in, and genuinely cared about my well-being, as I would come to find is the case for all the professors at Christendom.
I remember taking my first paper to him, which wasn’t even an academic paper but a reflection on someone who had been influential in my life. I wanted him to look it over since I was nervous about turning in my first college “paper” (which was really a short essay). Anyway, I had just been cast in the fall play, The Crucible, and, instead of really reading over my essay, we spent the whole time talking about theater. He was so excited about the Christendom Players and my interest in the club that about forty-five minutes went by before he quickly read my essay, gave me a few corrections, and had to go because his office hours were over. Every time I went to his office, we discussed the play or musical that was happening that semester and he always gave me advice on character development when I was acting or on how to direct my dancers when I choreographed for the musicals. His excitement for the theater and cinema was a typical topic of conversation and he always used movies and actors as examples in class. It was not a conversation with Dr. Keats without a movie, play, or actor reference.
Dr. Duffy and His Ducky | Catherine Malo (’95)
I didn’t take Latin, so I never got to enjoy the fullness of Mr. Duffy being Mr. Duffy. However, everyone on campus got to experience some of his antics. In 1992, the spring formal was held on a cruise boat on the Potomac. It was a highly anticipated event, and everyone dressed to the nines–the men in their best suits or tuxes, the ladies in taffeta tea-length dresses with the puffiest sleeves the ’90s could conjure up. Mr. Duffy, however, stole the show. With his lovely wife by his side, he showed up in a tux–and an inflatable ducky ring around his waist…just in case.
Baseball and Thesis Meetings | Ashley Scrivener (’05)
One of my favorite memories from my time at Christendom occurred during my senior year. It was the fall of 2004 and I was thrilled to be able to have Dr. Snyder as my thesis director. Both of us were staunch baseball fans and we were delighted that our teams (the Red Sox and the Cardinals) were having solid seasons. As the fall went on and the playoffs drew closer, we joked about what we would do if our teams played each other in the World Series. In the days before smartphones or even Wifi on campus, keeping up with the playoffs was much less convenient. Dr. Snyder generously scheduled our thesis meetings during play off games. Using his office computer, we were able to watch the play by play real time updates, which basically meant we intently watched a little black dot while frantically refreshing the page for updates. It was amazing. We certainly discussed Nietzsche and Socrates but also always had time for our mutual love of baseball. Out of the goodness of his heart, Dr. Snyder rejoiced with me when the Red Sox came back from 3 down to beat the Yankees and advance to the World Series to play (you guessed it!) his beloved St. Louis Cardinals. I think Dr. Snyder was feeling fairly confident going into the series as this was 2004 and the Red Sox hadn’t won in 86 years! However, in a span of 4 games the Red Sox became World Series champions. I’ll never forget how graciously Dr. Snyder welcomed me into his office the day after their victory despite the fact that I, less graciously, was dressed head to toe in Red Sox paraphernalia. Thank you, Dr. Snyder for these wonderful memories, your kindness and generosity, and your love of baseball!
Dr. and Mrs. Rice Opened Their Home | Kathryn Baltrinic (’09)
Christendom advertises the close bond that develops between the faculty and students, including inviting students into their homes. One such example is Dr. and Mrs. Rice. I spent two summers working on campus and lived with other ladies in the dorm house next door to the Rices. They asked us to join them for dinners and invited us to enjoy movies in their cozy, library / theater basement. Movie invitations during the academic year were enjoyed by a number of students. During my time as a student, Dr. and Mrs. Rice hosted the English major thesis defense. English professors and English majors enjoyed food and fellowship before heading to the basement for the thesis defense. We had the best thesis defense events! Dr. and Mrs. Rice even had a friendly cat! The first time I joined them for an outdoor dinner, the cat dropped a freshly caught mouse at my feet. Dr. Rice exclaimed, “Oh! She likes you!” I think the cat reflects the feelings of the faculty; they do like and care for the students.
Senior Seminar Celebration | Milanna Fritz (’19)
Although I have been blessed to experience countless hilarious, touching, and profound moments with our professors inside and outside of class, I’ll always look back upon the celebration Drs. McGuire, Wunsch, and Brutto hosted at the end of our senior seminar with special fondness. Over a dozen of us sat crammed into the small office on the first level of the new Madonna hall, making no effort to discuss anything serious and sharing jokes and stories around the room. Many of us had experienced a difficult semester, balancing work and extracurriculars with our theses. Although our weekly meetings were usually intense and thought-provoking, that afternoon we simply talked about life and tossed Cheetos at one another. My memory of the relief and genuine camaraderie present in that room will always remain with me as an encapsulation of what I believe to be the most unique aspect of attending Christendom: the bonds formed between students and professors, bonds which germinate in quiet admiration, are cultivated through respect, and come to fruition in joyful friendship.
Dr. Flippen Asks the Questions that Matter | Rob Ghering (’93)
Even away from the classroom, Dr. Flippen was asking the philosophical questions to provoke thoughts on the deeper meaning of our existence. This particular occasion was captured in a caricature by our beloved resident artist, Pat Haggerty. After a raucous breakfast in the old common room which consisted of much singing (including “Happy Birthday” to individuals who were NOT celebrating their birthday), revelry and glass clinking, I felt Dr. Flippen’s firm hand clutch my shoulder and the timeless query was posed…
Going Above and Beyond to Help me Write a Paper | Isabella Reilly (’20)
Freshman year I had to write a paper for History 102 for Dr. McGuire. Naturally, inexperienced freshman me was freaking out because this was a long paper (by freshman standards) and worth a lot grade wise. For some reason I couldn’t make it to Dr. McGuire’s office hours because I was a student worker in the Christendom Advancement office. He allowed me to give him the draft of my paper to look over and then he actually came to the third floor of Regina Ceoli where I was working to return it to me!!!! Naturally, at the time, I was not sufficiently grateful to Dr. McGuire because he had written “radically unclear and arguably erroneous” on my paper….What can I say? It was a freshman attempt at a paper. Nevertheless, looking back I realize that Dr. McGuire was willing to inconvenience himself for ridiculous and entitled freshman me to help me become a better student. And I can say that ultimately this experience has given me many laughs and made me a better person. Thank you Dr. McGuire!
Celebrating Accomplishments with Mrs. Hickson | Emma Klein (’20)
I have had many, many amazing professor moments. Really, “Covid-19 Exile” has been an eye-opener; I always knew that the professors are what make the Christendom Experience so special, but I didn’t realize how much I’d miss them all! I’m glad that I had an extra-special memory as my send-off from Christendom. As the senior girls began making their plans for next year– jobs, grad school, etc– Mrs. Hickson made an extra effort to help us celebrate our accomplishments. So she invited us all up to her lovely home for a little gathering. Champagne, Mrs. Hickson’s special brownies, roasts and toasts for the guests of honor… after four years at Christendom, Mrs. Hickson’s generosity shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. It’s plain to see that she truly loves her students. And ALL the professors do, just like she does. God bless our professors!
Dr. Marshner, a Fan of the Twilight Series | Anthony Storey (’20)
Founding faculty member Dr. Marshner had been retired a good while by the time I was at Christendom College, but he was always around when he could be, driving his BMW convertible with the license plate “THOMIST,” and his ever-present pipe in his mouth. I enjoyed getting to know him casually at his “tobacchanals,” wherein he brought his seemingly limitless supply of cigars to enjoy with students on Friday afternoons. We would talk philosophy or politics or whatever else would come up, and it was always a great time.
After attending a few tobacchanals, I learned that Dr. Marshner was in need of a scribe, as he was (and still is) making a new translation of the Summa Theologiae (because of course, the modern translations just wouldn’t do). We got in contact after that, and I started spending most of my afternoons typing furiously to keep up with his flawless translations. He would read the Latin and translate and speak it for me to type out as fluidly as if it were English. One day, mid-article, he says, “Storey!” I said, “Yes, Dr. Marshner?” He says, “Do you know what I’ve been spending my mornings doing?” I said, “Tell me.” He says,”I’ve been watching a trilogy of teeny-bopper vampire movies on the movie channel.” I was in shock. “…Twilight?” He exclaims, “Yes! The Twilight Saga! You know, it’s very good.” I could barely speak at this point. “Tell me why…” He says, “Because the girl is very in love with the vampire chap, but he insists it’s very important to wait for marriage, and I just think that’s very good.” I hadn’t much more to say, but I was just grinning furiously. He chuckled, and we got right back to work debunking the ancients’ views on the various places the soul might be located in the body. It was a bit of a world-view change for me, to learn that the the most learned man I know is a fan of Twilight.
Dr. Flippen to the Rescue | Mary Beth (Harrigan) Ellis (’92)
Many, MANY years ago, in the Regina Ceali building- formerly known as “the Common Room,” my girlfriends and I clustered together at a dance, watching the couples twirl by. We stood in front of a counter which was beautifully decorated with flowers and candles of varying heights, and we complimented one another on our shoulder-pad dresses and big 80’s hair. I spotted Dr. Flippen across the room and desperately hoped he wouldn’t notice me. I had missed his Philosophy class that morning for what I am sure was a very good reason, but, in the limited maturity of the late teen years, I tried to hide myself from his view. A few minutes later, I glanced over and was astonished to see Dr. Flippen charging toward me at lightning speed, with a determined look on his face and his arm raised as if to hit someone. And then he did. Whack! Right on the back of my head, several times in a row! Time froze and I stood still in utter shock while the acrid smell of something burning filled the air. I had backed up too close to a candle and my hair had caught fire! Dr. Flippen was the only person to observe this, and his swift action saved my hair and perhaps averted much more damage. And he did not even mention the missed class! Dr Flippen was not only a brilliant and engaging professor, but he was also always extremely kind and fair, demonstrating his love for his students at every turn. He was truly interested in the lives and welfare of all the students at Christendom. Who would have guessed that this professor of Philosophy could also be a first responder in time of danger? I will always be grateful to Dr. Flippen for his instinctive reaction that day, and for all of the knowledge and wisdom he imparted every day, both inside and outside the classroom.
Dr. Sullivan Made Literature Come Alive | Cabrina Gorges (’20)
One of the best things about Christendom faculty is how sincere they are in their care for and interactions with their students. Taking Dr Sullivan’s first class at Christendom, Victorian Literature at night, was one of the best ways to see Christendom keep its commitment to offering an unparalleled educational experience. With only seven students in the class, Dr Sullivan’s enthusiasm and passion brought out the best discussions from each of us. Everyone participated. In her Children’s Literature class, the amount of students was too many to count. Yet, Dr Sullivan again brought out amazing discussions from all of the students. As an alumni, I am excited to see the quality of Christendom education continue. The faculty remain one of the best things about a Christendom education.
Thank You Dr. Brutto | Sam Morales (’20)
I fondly remember Dr. Brutto letting me sit in on his Rhetoric class during his section on filmmaking even though I wasn’t a part of his class. The section of the curriculum only lasted for three classes but I was enthused to sit in on it because of my interest in cinema, and Dr. Brutto encouraged me to speak even though I wasn’t a part of the class and thanked me afterwards for my participation. In this way, I got to know a great professor despite the fact that I never got to have him for class!
Encouragement from Dr. Carroll | Margaret (Healy) Pickard (’84)
When asked about a time when a Christendom teacher went “above and beyond,” I immediately recall my senior exit interview – although it was not officially called an “exit interview” at the time. Dr. Carroll met individually with each senior in the graduating class of 1984. In my meeting, he asked what I was taking away from my time at Christendom, and how I planned to use that to “Restore All Things in Christ.” I particularly remember him emphasizing that, through our education at Christendom, we had been fit especially for service to the Church in two areas: respect for life, and education. His paternal dedication to each of us impressed me then, and touches me now. At Christendom, I was known as an individual, and appreciated as a valued part of the whole.
Dr. Arias and his Snacks | Rosemarie Olszewski (’20)
I have many fond memories of our Sacraments class with Dr. Arias. The first class, he asked for someone’s phone number so that he could let us know if he was ever running late (since he lives about an hour away) but he told us that he didn’t expect to ever be late. The next class, we’re all waiting in the classroom with no professor and then Carlos gets a phone call from a laughing Dr. Arias saying that he’d be late. He also brought us food almost every class- including Apple House donuts sometimes- and while the food was always good, the best part about it was he would always keep what he had a secret and then have a big reveal after talking about it and I just loved seeing his excitement in his fun little tradition…and of course always enjoyed the food.
A Trip to the Ocean | Rebecca Deucher (’14)
One spring semester during lunch in the commons, I tried to convince Mary Bratt to take long-weekend road trip to the beach. She’d never seen the ocean, so of course it was worth whatever activity she’d miss that weekend (shoutout to SAC’s hard work planning events). Realizing I was getting nowhere, I leaned over to enlist Dr. Flippen, who sat a few chairs down the long table. Wouldn’t he convince Mary it was worth her time to see the beach? I felt and ignored a kick under the table. In his usual calm manner, Dr. Flippen reasoned the beach must be beautiful that time of year and, avoiding any definitive statement, figured it would be an enjoyable time. After he left the table, Mary explained she would be skipping his class if she went to the beach – a fact I am sure he was aware. He later saw Mary get in my car for the trip (the beach won) and waved us off. In addition to this memory, I recall a number of hikes and movie nights he hosted. Dr. Flippen’s balanced approach to life and work is one I greatly needed in college and always will appreciate.
A Memorable Dinner Invitation | Margaret Luckey (’97)
Dr. Andres started teaching philosophy at Christendom my freshman year. He and Mrs. Andres had the entire freshman class over for dinner (in shifts). The next year someone asked him if he was going to do the same and he said, “I think we’ll invite the sophomores this year.” It was a funny at the time, but I remember feeling…loved. My philosophy professor loved us.
Mentor and Friend, Mike Brown | Nancy Bauer (’96)
I arrived at Christendom along with three other transfers from Magdalen. We stuck together like glue. On the first night, we went to the outdoor volleyball area behind the Regina Coeli building to meet other students. Along with many others, we met Mike Brown. He introduced himself like that. We were coming from a way more formal school so we had no idea we were talking to a professor and the then dean of students. That casual meeting led to a relationship that spanned from babysitting his kids (he always paid us very generously), athletic director (before there was an official AD; I remember him taking the men’s and women’s b-ball teams to a Washington Bullets game), to boss (he hired me as the associate dean of students), to mentor and friend. His love and genuine concern for all students continues to impress me (Covid 19 cooking and trivia!).
Great Professors and Great Food | Bethany Sargis (’03)
My favorite memories of the professors at Christendom have to do with food (stop judging). I remember Mr. O’Herron made sure I knew how to drink tea “properly” (without the milk and sugar). He also gets “The BEST homemade jam” award and I could use a jar of blackberry right about now. When I think of Mr. Brown I think of the doughnuts he brought us during work crew. I also have a vague memory of someone trying to bribe him with a Symphony bar (maybe Heather). By far one of the best meals I have ever eaten was Mrs. O’Donnell’s carbonara. Thank you Christendom for feeding body and soul! God bless you and all that you do!
Calvin & Hobbes with Dr. Flippen | Maribeth Kelly (’14)
When I was a freshman at Christendom, I caught the flu, passed out during Mass, and was taken to the hospital. I went to my parents’ house later that day, and Dr. Flippen came over with two Calvin & Hobbes comic books for me to read while I was recovering. I felt so loved- a real part of the Christendom family! I still have those comic books to this day, and I read them whenever I need a good laugh! Thank you, Dr. Flippen!
Friend and Mentor, Dr. William Luckey | Andrew James Cole (’98)
I will never forget when Dr. William Luckey and I had a late night meal from the St. Lawrence Commons concession restaurant. I was a political science and economics major. Dr. Luckey would be directing my senior thesis a year later. We had such a great conversation about any and all political philosophy themes which we both agreed upon, i.e. avoiding a Rousseauian “drawbridge Catholicism” which ignored the value of technology or the appreciation/ integration of real life experience and academic study. It meant a lot to me that he spent this time outside of class on his own time to meet with me. His witness of pursuing the truth as found in real life experience or through books, resonated with me. I later realized that his study of and “preaching of the truth” with such an integrated balance, was appealing to me. I later spoke with him about the Third Order Dominicans (he had worn the Dominican lapel pin in class) and he gave me a pamphlet about it. Years later, in 2017, due to this esteemed mentor and friend, I also became a final promised Third Order Dominican. Therefore, his mentorship has had and continues lifelong impact of inestimable value. Thank you, Dr. Luckey, aka “my professor!”