CDU Blog

Support for the Underserved

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 @ 10:44 PM
Support for our incarcerated brothers and sisters is soaring. The CDU prison ministry program continues to innovate to digitally embrace the incarcerated Church. With your support, we have served 280,000 free courses with an outstanding 90% satisfactory completion rate. CDU is especially grateful for recent grants from The Order of Malta Federal Association and The Most Reverend John Dougherty. Many of those behind bars not only have a passion to learn more about their faith, they have a heart to serve others in their community. CDU is creating new digital courses and reorganizing those currently offered into certificate programs to support incarcerated evangelists for the faith. CDU is grateful for team members Ulises and Diana Hubbard, Maria Alejandra Palacios,  and Dr. Marlon de la Torres for working to translate courses into Spanish. CDU also appreciates Doug Sandvig and the Order of Malta prison ministry team for creating a digital rosary program that has launched with amazing success. Together, we are making strides in reaching incarcerated Catholics and we are just realizing the digital potential for service to the underserved.

New Courses Offer Fresh Learning Opportunities

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 @ 10:33 PM

Three exciting courses debuted in fall 2020.

THEO 552 Sacraments and Liturgy, taught by Marcellino D’Ambrosio, not only covers the theology and history of each of the seven sacraments and its basis in both the Old and New Testaments but extensively deals with the history of worship in the Catholic Church. Despite elements of the sacred liturgy that have always remained constant, many Catholics do not fully appreciate how much liturgical diversity there is in the Body of Christ. This course is meant to increase that appreciation as well as to explain why Vatican II made the liturgical reforms that it did.

THEO 541 Theology of Church is taught by Father Bevil Bramwell, OMI. The theologian Henri de Lubac called the Church “the convergence of all of the mysteries.” The mysteries of God, the missions of the Divine Son and the Divine Spirit, Christ, man, and world meet to constitute the Church. This course will help faithful students see how they participate in the great mysteries of salvation, the results of the missions of the Son and the Spirit. They will learn how to participate in Christ’s presence in the faith community and in the Church’s mission to the world. The course explains the various elements of the Church of Jesus Christ through the mission of the divine Son. It also describes the operation of the accompanying mission of the Holy Spirit to realize the Church.

COSCI 101 Computer Essentials, taught by Fausto Franco, enables students to learn and master applications such as MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for practical use in daily life and business. Students will also explore the basic teachings of the Church regarding technology itself and the integration of technology and communications to further the New Evangelization and the life of the Church. This course is useful for any student but especially for students who require three credits in the mathematics distribution area for the AA or BA degree programs.

Meet Our Newest Faculty Member

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 @ 10:30 PM


Fausto Franco, MEng, MA, is teaching COSCI 101 Computer Essentials. Born of immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic and raised in the Bronx, New York, he currently resides in Albany and is a parishioner at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Americas. Professor Franco works in Information Technology with a focus in Cyber Security as a business information security officer for the state government. He is active in Hispanic youth ministry for the Archdiocese of New York and is also a member of the Locos por Jesus ministry that travels to the Dominican Republic on mission. He has traveled throughout the United States and abroad to give talks and evangelize. Fausto also plays baseball in the Albany Twilight League, one of the oldest amateur baseball leagues in the country. Please join us in welcoming him.

Pope Francis Honors Board Member

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 @ 10:27 PM


On September 19th Pope Francis honored CDU Board member Theodore J. Musco with the Papal Bene Merenti Medal for longtime service to the People of God of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Musco now serves as Vice President of RENEW International, a ministry that revitalizes spirituality in millions of Catholics through small group programs. Join us in congratulating Ted for his papal recognition and new role in serving the Church.

The Pandemic Will Not Stop CDU’s Remarkable Progress

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 @ 10:22 PM

While demand increases for distance learning programs, ministries to the underserved are exploding, and university enrollments continue to grow, CDU has been forced to cancel the 2020 Gala because of safety concerns in Washington, D.C. Though we cannot hold our biggest fundraising event of the year, we cannot cancel the needs of those we serve. We need your help now more than ever to keep this great work going. We aim to raise $200,000 by the end of November through our Overcoming the Pandemic Together Appeal. We also hope you will attend the 2021 Gala, when we honor Bishop Robert Barron.

During the most productive and challenging year in the University’s 37-year history, CDU has made remarkable progress and won new recognition as a pioneer and leader in online education.

CDU’s graduate school was accredited this spring by the Association of Theological Schools. Through a partnership with the International Federation of Catholic Universities based in Paris, CDU is training international faculty to teach online. CDU is also partnering with Father Robert Spitzer, SJ, and the Magis Institute to certify Catholic school teachers in science-based apologetics to help counter secular confusion about God and science. CDU is also partnering with Catholic Faith Technologies to offer affordable online catechist certificate programs. Please join us in supporting our Overcoming the Pandemic Together Appeal. To donate, visit today.

From Our President

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 @ 10:17 PM



While this has been a very challenging year and the future is still unclear, for CDU there have been bright lights, as only those with faith discover that God always brings greater good from suffering.

One obvious effect of the pandemic for CDU has been the recognition of online education as another fully effective form of higher education. While it has not been the standard model in the United States, all institutions have been forced to embrace it, and many more students and parents are discovering the benefits of distance education. While we continue to work hard to improve our marketing and admissions, we are seeing significant growth in new students and enrollments. Our marketing is emphasizing our history as pioneers in this field and our 20 years of experience in online education.

We were approached after Easter by the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) to partner in offering a four-week course to faculty on how to teach effectively online. We are now in our fourth series of classes, working with faculty from five Catholic universities in Lebanon. What a privilege for us to work with highly credentialed faculty who are hungry to improve their teaching effectiveness with distance education. The international faculty show great enthusiasm for distance education and their hope that it can be incorporated into their universities permanently. We all agree that hybrid instructional models are the ideal solution for the future. Without the pandemic, I doubt we would see such growth in the practice and endorsement of distance education.

Another significant endorsement of CDU’s model came in early June when the Association of Theological Schools fully accredited CDU as the first exclusively online university accredited by ATS. More and more ATS-accredited schools are adding distance education, but CDU has now made history with ATS.

The 2020 Gala has turned out to be a very different kind of annual fundraiser. While we were planning to honor Bishop Barron with the Founders Award, the pandemic forced us to cancel the Gala because of restrictions on large gatherings in Washington, D.C. Bishop Barron has graciously agreed to join us in person on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at the St. John Paul II National Shrine. Professor Helen Alvaré has graciously agreed to postpone her service as emcee and mistress of ceremonies until then as well. In the meantime, we need your support for 2020. The Gala is a major fundraising event for the University. Please consider a sacrificial gift this year.

New Cohort Meets Online

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 @ 05:28 PM

Holy Week was interesting this year with so many people under stay-at-home orders and unable to attend Easter Triduum services. But recently admitted graduate students in the new Thomas Aquinas Cohort were fortunate to gather for an online meeting that offered an opportunity to meet one another, socialize, and learn more about the graduate program. Students met Academic Dean Dr. Pete Brown, Faculty Chair Dr. Marie Nuar, Student Life Coordinators Mary McKay and Mary Kate Payne, and Librarian Sr. Rebecca Abel. Academic cohorts at both the graduate and undergraduate levels will be meeting regularly to discuss all things related to the CDU experience.

Bishop Barron to Be Honored at 2020 Gala

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 @ 05:26 PM


Save the date for the annual gala and academic convocation Mass to be held on Thursday, November 19, 2020, at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Robert E. Barron will receive the Founders Award, CDU’s highest award, for sharing the joy and truth of our Faith using the Internet. Auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Bishop Barron is the founder of Word on Fire, a Catholic media organization that spreads the Faith through digital technology, and was the host of the TV series Catholicism, an award-winning documentary that aired on PBS. Previously, he served as rector at Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Bishop Barron has published numerous books, essays, and articles on theology and spirituality. He is a religion correspondent for NBC and has also appeared on Fox News, CNN, and EWTN. As one of the world’s most followed Catholics on social media, he has been informally called the “bishop of social media” and the “bishop of the Internet.” His YouTube videos have been viewed over 30 million times, he has over 1.5 million followers on Facebook, 160,000 on Instagram, and 150,000 on Twitter.

You will not want to miss this special event! We look forward to seeing you this Fall. Your “Save the Date” postcard will arrive soon, and invitations will follow this summer.

Change Is in the Air

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 @ 05:21 PM

While CDU staff retention and loyalty is very high, we sometime have to say goodbye. Barbarann Ellis, admissions support, has been with CDU in a variety of roles for many years and is about to retire. Please join us in wishing her well.

In May, former CDU registrar Megan Davis rejoined the team as diocesan partnership liaison and admissions coordinator. Please pray for these team members as they embark on their new journeys.

Government Promotes Giving to Non-profits

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 @ 05:19 PM

After completing last year's taxes, many people are now reviewing their tax and estate plans for next year. The CARES Act now offers a new opportunity for giving at any level. Taxpayers, even those who do not itemize, can deduct $300 in charitable giving to public nonprofits in 2020. Prior to the CARES Act, those who took the standard deduction could not deduct any charitable giving. In addition, for those who itemize their taxes the CARES Act significantly raises the amount of charitable giving deductible from 60% of filers’ adjusted gross income (AGI) to 100% of AGI.

With your eyes on the future, please consider making a planned giving charitable rollover gift from your IRA. Stock or mutual fund transfers are also a tax-beneficial way to donate. Contact your advisor or Annie Hager at for more information on these advantages.

We understand that you have many charitable options and are grateful for your commitment to the growth of CDU.