& our "Impact" list

  • The CNU Chapel

people in life that inspire us. Whether they are celebrities or a family member or even a peer…. almost everyone has someone they look up to. Michael and I are very thankful that we have an abundance of people in our life that we admire and look up to in so many different ways. I like to think of these people as being on our “Impact” list. In some way, shape or form, these individuals came into our lives and they had a profound impact on us. Maybe they made an impact on our marriage…. maybe their leadership was inspiring…. or maybe their public declaration of their faith was what made such a great impression.

Well, there are two individuals that have impacted us in all of those ways and that’s President Paul Trible and his amazing wife Rosemary.

President Trible is a former US Senator that later became the President of Christopher Newport University.  It was a small university that needed a lot of change and a lot of inspiration. Someone needed to believe in this little school and they needed to have an audacious dream for what it could become.  In the last decade, President Trible and Rosemary’s vision for what is now “Christopher Newport University” has come to life. The campus has literally been rebuilt and what was once a small, local community college is now a thriving, nationally recognized university that receives roughly 12,000 freshman applications to fill 1200 spots. Amazing right?

Well, as amazing as the new multi-million dollar buildings are, the most impressive part of CNU, in my opinion, is the leadership.  CNU is a public university and yet President Trible and Rosemary have never shied away from allowing their faith to be known.  I was blessed to be a part of a small bible study with Rosemary during my 4 years at CNU.  It was during that time together that I heard the most incredible stories and really got to know this amazing woman. While I was able to get to know Rosemary through that small group, Michael had the privilege of getting to know President Trible through a job opportunity. Michael worked alongside President Trible for a year while I was finishing school.  He assisted him in every way possible. Whether it was driving him to Richmond for a board meeting or helping him prep for a presentation, Michael was the go-to man.  President Trible would talk about his time on the hill while they made their almost weekly trips to Richmond and I blame him 100% for Michael’s obsession with Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli’s, “The Prayer” (Don’t tell Michael I told you that).

In 2008, Rosemary started talking about a dream that she just couldn’t shake. You see, she experienced a life changing event that no one had ever heard about. She held onto this story for 30+ years until it was the right time to tell it…. and that time came in 2008.  Rosemary told me that it was time for her story to be heard and she was going to write a book…. and she did. I helped Rosemary create the cover of her  book and after this dream of hers came to life, she shared another dream.  I remember Rosemary saying that she envisioned CNU having a Chapel on campus.  After the track record of her previous endeavors, I knew that even though this seemed like a long shot, it was going to happen…. and it did.

On Sunday evening, Michael and I drove to Newport News because we were invited to the  dedication ceremony of the “Pope Chapel” on CNU’s campus.  This is the first Chapel to be completed on a public university’s campus in over 50 years. Sure, other historic campuses have chapels but none of them were built recently because faith on a public campus isn’t looked upon highly.  This chapel was privately funded and it’s available to all faiths.  President Trible and Rosemary shared that they believe that all students should have the freedom to worship on their campus and now they have a building to accomodate them. What is so amazing to me about this whole story isn’t the glowing rotunda or the marble floors, it’s the boldness of Paul and Rosemary.  They are so often criticized for their faith and yet they have such a deep, grounded understanding of the gospel that those critics don’t even phase them. I don’t care what you may believe… but that’s inspiring. Anyone who stands up for what he/she believes is inspiring…but when public figures that have a lot to lose decide to stay true to their faith, I believe that’s something worth recognizing.

Over the course of our time at CNU, we have learned so much from Paul and Rosemary.  We’ve learned that a healthy marriage makes for an unstoppable team. We’ve learned that not everyone slows down after they reach 60 and that someone’s schedule will ALWAYS be crazier than ours. We’ve learned that great leadership is founded on integrity and we’ve also learned that being a faithful follower of Christ, no matter how many people know your name, is the true mark of believer who is unashamed.

In 2008, Rosemary and I started working on a special project.  I had the honor of photographing and designing the mockup for the stained glass window in the chapel.  It’s not my “normal” work and I will probably NEVER have the opportunity to create something like this again and so I’m thankful for the experience.  It was such an honor to sit beside these two incredible leaders on Sunday as they, once again, completed another stage of their vision for CNU.

If you can’t tell, we’re kinda proud of our Alma Mater…. and if you’re in VA and you’re college shopping, you should slip on down to Newport News and visit this amazing campus. I’m telling you, it’s one of the greatest places on earth… but I’m a bit biased. :)

This is the mockup of the design on the left and the finished product on the right.  

Thanking his wife for all of her hard work. 

Love this. 

 Last but not least, this is a portrait that we cherish from our wedding! We’re so thankful for the role that President Trible and Rosemary have played and continue to play in our lives.


23 Comments Personal
  1. kathy stephens reply

    what an incredible story. I’d love to know more about the book she wrote.

  2. Amanda Hedgepeth reply

    Oh my gosh this made me cry! What an inspiration and cherished friendship to have in your life..they are role models!!!

  3. Kristin reply

    What an incredible story. Made me year up a bit, so thankful for people that share their faith so boldly.

  4. Kevin Garcia reply

    :) honestly. So incredible. Congrats on having your work memorialized at cnu. You seriously are a continuing inspiration to our community.

  5. Daddy reply

    Wonderful post. Incredible school. And two amazing people. They have influenced so many.

  6. molly stillman reply

    wow! the chapel is amazing. President trible and rosemary are amazing people – i love their hearts and their leadership!!

  7. Jo-Ann Scichilone reply

    Wow – this made me cry – the photos, the stained glass, the lion – it’s gorgeous! And bravo for them sticking to their dream and vision of a place to worship!!!!

  8. Kat reply

    What an amazing story! Truly an inspiration! (Ps. That stain glass window is stunning!!)

  9. Regina Hurst reply

    Katelyn, Thanks you for telling even more of the story than we heard during the Pope Chapel dedication on SUnday evening. (It was a pleasure to have “finally” met you too!). This is a beautiful tribute to CNU and to this new place.(LOVED the gorgeous pictures you provided too) that I will now share on my facebook page…for more to see and enjoy!

  10. caroline reply

    Absolutely incredible. well done, Katelyn James!

  11. Annetta reply

    So nice to hear that there are stories like these out there yet. Standing up for what it right isn’t always easy. They sound like wonderful people And what beautiful chapel.

  12. Katie Barber reply

    I have always considered myself fortunate to have attended and graduated such a wonderful school. Friends of mine are floored when i explain the unique and close relationship the tribles have with the student body. reading this reminds me how very special they are and how much i love having such devoted servants leading my alma mater!

  13. Ralph Scichilone reply

    Katelyn: Wonderful commentary on CNU, the Chapel and Paul and Rosemary. We feel blessed that they had such an impact on Sara during her time at CNU. It is indeed a “special place” and I’m proud to be a CNU dad.

  14. Brittany hall reply

    Oh Katelyn what am amazing blog! I feel the same way about my alma mater so I could truly feel your passion and love behind this post! Love the window too – what an amazing job!!!! May god continue to richly bless you!!!!

  15. Rebekah Hoyt reply

    Wow, what a beautiful story. I love that they are so bold in their faith, no matter what the cost! Congratulations on the stained glass window – it’s beautiful!

  16. Kathleen carey reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have had the opportunity to give out some of those Fear to Freedom boxes at MCV with an organization I volunteer for. Rosemary Trible has definitely made an impact on people she will never even know, but I can assure you seeing the look on a 21-year-old man’s face when he received that box with a teddy bear inside made my heart smile. Thank you so much for sharing this story — you are awesome!! :)

  17. Jennifer Krieg reply

    Thank you for sharing! I loved reading this story right before I head to bed to close my day. So wonderful!

  18. Sarah reply

    This is so exciting! I’m going down to CNU tomorrow and I can’t wait to see the chapel in person for the first time. Rosemary and President Trible really are some of the most amazing people. And I agree with you…CNU is the best school ever. :)

  19. Emily reply

    I’m not going to lie… When I was at school I was never a big fan of President Trible, For some reason I latched onto the negativity from other students about him, I always liked Rosemary though, and this post makes me respect both of them as a couple and as Christians. Thank you for helping me swallow my pride and understand what a great school CNU is (and will continue to be) because of President Trible and his wife. I can’t wait to go back and see the Chapel now! It’s gorgeous, and I love the stained glass window.

  20. sophie reply

    I’m reading your blog from Belgium and i would like to thank you for sharing so much with us. It makes me practice my english and it also gives me a grasp of your culture over there! Plus your pictures are amazing, it makes me dream :)
    again thank you!

  21. Emily Ferris reply

    This is such an awesome story, when I saw the picture for this post I didnt realize there was going to be such an inspirational story behind it! How blessed you must feel to have such strong leaders to admire!

  22. Nicole Chrzaszcz reply

    This is so great! I am a freshman at CNU and have been going to Rosemary’s bible study this year! It is incredible what God has done at CNU and is still doing! God really uses the Tribles and shines through them! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the future here!

  23. Jordan Simpson reply

    Hey Katelyn!
    My name is Jordan and I’m a junior at CNU. I was just showing a friend where I want to get married one day… CNU chapel and I came across one of the photos you took there OMG. I have been following you on Instagram for sometime now and I have been so inspired by your photography skills, but also your heart for the Lord and serving others! When I came across the picture of the chapel with your name linked I completely started to freak out! I had no idea you are a CNU alum! Now I feel like I love you even more, like hello Katelyn James and I both went to CNU haha. Anyways thanks for being so awesome and sharing your faith and passions with all of us!

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