Christendom details $40 million campaign

FRONT ROYAL – Christendom College leaders have announced a comprehensive campaign that will raise a new chapel on campus and provide financial support for the college and its students.

Titled “A Call to Greatness,” the $40 million campaign consists of three parts: the $13.5 million Christ the King Project, $13.5 million in contributions toward the college’s endowment fund, and $13 million toward the college’s annual fund.

With a lighted outline of the future Christ the King Chapel set up for a Friday evening ceremony, Christendom President Timothy O’Donnell addressed board members, donors, faculty and other members of the community about the campaign.

“This will be the spiritual, intellectual and social heart of our expansion,” he said of the chapel. “… It’s the most ambitious building project we’ve ever undertaken in our history.”

So far, the college has raised more than $28 million, or about 72 percent of its total goal, from various donors. O’Donnell said the college hopes to complete the campaign by the college’s 40th anniversary in 2018.

Paul Jalsevac, interim vice president for advancement at the college, said the college aims to break ground on the chapel within 12 to 16 months, once permits and preparations are secure. While the college’s current chapel rises about 80 feet into the air, the Christ the King Chapel’s bell tower will stand at 130 feet and the chapel itself will have double the seating capacity.

Jalsevac said that adding a total of 100 acres to campus within the past two years has paved the way for campaign plans.

“That allowed us to reorient our plan and put the chapel here,” he said at the campaign ceremony.

Construction of the chapel will also allow the existing chapel to be converted into a community center and events space. The college’s St. Lawrence Commons, which underwent $500,000 of renovations this summer, will be upgraded and expanded into a permanent dining facility, whereas it was previously a multipurpose space.

The endowment fund part of the campaign will contribute toward long-term scholarships, allow for loan repayment flexibility and ensure financial stability at the college. O’Donnell said doubling the endowment fund helps to keep Christendom independent from “the encroachment of the federal government.”

“The endowment creates lasting tributes and memorials and will assist generations of Christendom students,” he said. “We need to think big, we need to think long term here.”

Jalsevac said the annual fund portion of the campaign puts more than $2.1 million toward the yearly needs of the college in the form of financial aid, salaries and operating expenses that are not covered by tuition.

Attendance at Christendom has been growing, with a reported record 478-member student body for the 2016-2017 year. Tom McFadden, vice president for enrollment at Christendom, said that within the past four years, the college’s enrollment has grown by 21 percent. He said the college has tried to grow around 2 percent every year, and have an end total of 550 undergraduate students.

With the Christ the King Chapel as its centerpiece, O’Donnell said the campaign will reinforce Christendom as a “center of Catholic educational excellence.”

“At this critical point in our history … this campaign will strengthen and advance Christendom as a shining beacon of hope,” he said during his address at the ceremony.

Learn more about Christendom’s campaign at http://tiny.cc/elvrey.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com