As our Fall semester has come to a close and our students are now home with their families, we want to recall some of our highlights. The Abbey is like a little village brimming with life and activity. We’re looking forward to Spring with an optimism that stems from all our wonderful Fall experiences!



Logan Torve, Vincent Gillson, Mary Rose Stepnoski and Eric Swartz

The Abbey Debaters Take First Place

Our Abbey Debaters, led by Emily Leber Director of Debate, continue to demonstrate their prowess in competitions across the country. The team ventured to Stockton, California for the University of Pacific Tournament, November 5 & 6.  This trip again was victorious for our spirited team.

The tournament saw 52 debate teams overall and included registration from 20 schools. Team sweepstakes for the tournament were divided into two categories for large and small schools; a third of all schools registered competed for the small school sweepstakes. Belmont Abbey College won first place in small school sweepstakes. In addition to that award, the team also carried home five other trophies.

Out of 19 novice debate teams, our team of Eric Swartz and Vincent Gillson ranked first overall after preliminary rounds, winning five of six. Eric also received an individual award for high speaker points. The novice duo went on to drop in quarterfinals on a 1-2 decision to Diablo Valley. Logan Torve and Mary Rose Stepnowski competed in a field of 33 more experienced debate teams. They won half of their preliminary rounds and earned high enough speaker points to advance to elimination rounds. They dropped a 1-2 decision in octofinals to a Division I team, Rice University in Texas that went on to debate in the final round of the tournament.

Elisa Torres Gives a Lecture

On October 28th and 29th four Belmont Abbey students Elisa Torres, Abigail Thompson, Mary Jacobeen, and Alexis Von Spakovsky, along with Dr. Joseph Wysocki of the Government Department, traveled to Cleveland, Tennessee to take part in the “Intercollegiate Symposium on Democracy and Liberalism in America,” at Lee Univesity. At this conference, the students engaged in discussion panels dedicated to the thought of Alexis de Tocqueville with students from six colleges and universities. Our students were highly regarded by the faculty who led these seminars.  Additionally, Abbey student Elisa Torres gave a presentation to all of the attendees entitled “The Cartesian American Mind,” which examined the influence of the philosophy of René Descartes on the American regime.  The paper was very well received. Students also attended a keynote lecture on Alexis de Tocqueville given by Dr. Khalil Habib, the Honors Program Director at Salve Regina University.

Elisa Torres presenting to the Intercollegiate Symposium on Democracy and Liberalism in America.

Dr. Farrell O’Gorman

Dr. O’Gorman Gives a Lecture and Gets Published

This year our own Dr. Farrell O’Gorman gave the Charles G. Smith Lecture at Baylor University where he presented on Catholicism and American Borders in the Gothic Literary Imagination. Dr. O’Gorman also recently had a book accepted by the University of Notre Dame Press, which is scheduled to be published in the fall of 2017. His book titled “Catholicism and American Borders in the Gothic Literary Imagination” will feature a discussion of “representations of Catholicism in the work of major American fiction writers from the Revolution up until the present day” and ” considers how Catholic writers such as Flannery O’Connor transformed a national literary tradition that was originally marked by anti-Catholicism” (O’Gorman).


Women’s Soccer had an amazing season this semester with an overall record of 16-3-1. Six members of the women’s soccer team were awarded positions on the Conference Carolinas All-Conference team. Cierra Skyers, Sydney Pluhacek, and Rachel Coutinho made the first team. Kooba Richard and Kat Laughlin made the second team. Kaitlin Paul and Rebecca Coutinho made the third team. Moreover, three women’s soccer players – Rachel Coutinho, Cierra Skyers, and Sydney Pluhacek – were selected to be a part of the All-Southeast Regional Team. On hearing of the announcements, Head Coach Mike Lynch made the following remarks: “Our three players selected had outstanding seasons as did so many in our program.  Individual recognition is the fruit of the TEAM’s effort and performance so we are excited for Cierra, Rachel and Sydney as well as our whole TEAM.”

Aimee Cloninger

Women’s Volleyball finished their season out strong with a winning 19-13 season. Senior Aimee Cloninger was named to the Conference Carolinas All-Tournament team for her exceptional performance as an Abbey Athlete. Additionally, from Women’s Volleyball, Senior Gabby Martinez and Juniors Coreen Norwood and Alexandria Henriott earned All-conference Carolina honors and were named the third team for their conference. Women’s Basketball is currently 5-2. Although they still have 20 games left in the season, the women’s basketball team is projected to be a leader in their conference this year. Currently, Chrystal Ezechukwu, Taylor Johnson, Gabrielle Bethel, and Morgan Midkiff lead the team for the number of points scored this season. The Men’s Basketball team has shown great promise under new head coach Billy Taylor. Men’s and Women’s Tennis is doing a phenomenal job this semester, with the men’s team on a 4-match winning streak and the women’s team winning two of four matches.

Our new teams, Men’s Bowling, Women’s Field Hockey, and Men’s Cycling had their first seasons this semester. In the Roto Grip Classic, a few individual members of the bowling team ranked within the top 50 out of 147 individual bowlers. Additionally, Men’s Cycling has already proved to have consistently excellent individuals on their team in the Mountain Biking, Track Cycling, and Cyclocross seasons. Just one month into its first season with a varsity cycling program, Belmont Abbey had its first national champion. Freshman Nick Oestreich won his semifinal race, then claimed a deciding third race in the two-out-of-three final to win the USA Cycling National Collegiate Championship in the sprint race at the Giordano Velodrome. We are eager to see how well these new team will do in the future, and we are excited to see their programs grow and develop.


Joining the Church

We are pleased to have Seniors Dylan Gerald and Brandon Kimbrell and Junior Coreen Norwood participate in the sacrament of confirmation at our basilica on December 4th.  Then, Gerald received the Eucharist for the first time, and all three of them were welcomed into the church. We congratulate them and bless them for making the decision to make such a great step. We wish you all success in the future with the faith and hope you embrace Christ’s love in your daily lives.

United by Praise

United by Praise is an annual event hosted in Belmont Abbey Basilica. This year was Sydney Urban’s last time planning the night of praise, worship, adoration, and confession; Adjunct professor for the Theology Department, Fr. Kauth spoke this year on preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. Overall, Urban is glad she was asked to organize the event for the last two years, but she says she is excited to hear how it goes in years to come.

The event was broadcast live on Facebook to give the world an inside look at the Abbey. To view the event again click here.

Seniors Dylan Gerald and Brandon Kimbrell and Junior Coreen Norwood