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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
CDU has agreed to create a month-long course for the International Federation of Catholic Universities that will help train Catholic faculty throughout the world in effective online teaching practices. The course is titled Teaching in a Digital World. “CDU is blessed to teach our brothers and sisters in Catholic education with proven strategies, best practices, and policies that will help them transition to digital during these challenging times,” says CDU President Dr. Marianne Mount.
CDU’s online prison tablet education program is now in 150 prisons. Students can now choose from 26 free courses and six in Spanish to learn more about the Catholic faith.More than 210,000 free courses have been taken to date, and CDU plans to continue developing new courses to keep incarcerated students engaged and growing in faith. Since many prisons do not have Catholic chaplains, CDU is developing online certificate programs to form faithful leaders behind prison walls to support this ever-growing, isolated population. We are grateful to our supporters, the Diocese of Wheeling- Charleston, The John C. Fricano Foundation, Elizabeth Shortell, The Andreas Foundation, and the Order of Malta Federal Association, which not only awarded grants but also hosts a pen pal program to support incarcerated students through their experience of imprisonment.
Rosanne and her husband (at left) are pictured in Sierra Leone, Africa, with children at the Savior of the World Children’s Center, from which they have legally adopted five children.
Rosanne Terese Kouris of LaPorte, Indiana, has been named CDU’s Outstanding Graduate for 2019. Kouris is a worthy honoree who graduated summa cum laude, having attained a 4.08 GPA while earning her BA degree in Theology. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission, CDU’s accreditor, honors an outstanding graduate or alumnus each year from its member institutions.
Rosanne is currently the coordinator of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana. Obtaining her BA has enabled her to develop and expand programs and events offered by the diocese to enrich marriage and family life, including marriage preparation, natural family planning, marriage enrichment, women’s Bible studies, and an annual Women’s Conference. As the director of the diocese’s Rachel’s Vineyard ministry, knowledge and insights obtained through her studies have given her a richer platform from which to minister to those in need of post-abortion healing.
Rosanne is the head of the Savior of the World Children’s Center, a home for orphaned and indigent children in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She oversees the operation of the home, organizes fundraising, and edits a bimonthly newsletter. She and her husband have legally adopted five orphaned children from the Savior of the World Children’s Center, who now live with them in the United States. Rosanne is active in the pro-life movement and frequently volunteers for events.
Of her time at CDU, Rosanne says, “Catholic Distance University is an excellent online school with rich and diverse courses, knowledgeable and caring staff, paired with solid Catholic theology. Their interactive class structure made learning stimulating and gratifying, inspiring me through challenging courses, and motivating me to complete my degree.”
CDU is expanding its partnership with Rev. Robert J. Spitzer and the Magis Institute. Father Spitzer, who is a member of the Advisory Board, teaches courses on science-based apologetics. Now his 10-hour, non-credit program will be certified by CDU. This partnership broadens the scope of CDU influence in promoting the compatibility of faith and science.
Lucas Jacobson of New Hope, Minnesota, earned his BA degree in Theology in 2018 and is now pursuing his MA degree in Theology and Educational Ministry. A full-time student, Lucas decided to pursue the study of theology because he figured that if he is going to spend eternity with God, he better get to know something about Him now.
“What I really enjoy about CDU is that one can obtain a degree in Catholic Theology online,” Lucas says. “I have a physical disability, Cerebral Palsy, and use a wheelchair for mobility. I live in Minnesota, and the snow in the winter is hard for my chair to maneuver,” he says.
“For those who have a hard time going out in the community, [the online option] is very beneficial,” Lucas says. “Additionally, one can receive instruction from very knowledgeable instructors [who] are authentic individuals, living out the Catholic faith they teach about. This is very inspiring.”
Lucas began his studies in the first year federal financial aid was made available to students at CDU, which has helped to put his educational goals within reach.
Eventually Lucas hopes to pursue a career as a Theology professor for an online higher education institution. He has also considered the possibility of motivational speaking or pursuing a doctorate if a fully online program can be found, but says he will see where God leads him.
“I sense that God has been calling me into a deeper relationship with him through his mother, Mary, so that I can lead others into their own relationship with God as someone who has personal experience of it,” he says.
Lucas is thankful to those who have helped him along the way. “I am very grateful for everyone who has supported me, including the CDU professors and staff.” He encourages everyone to think about who has helped them throughout their lives and to thank them in some manner.
On March 2nd, Bishop Mark Brennan, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling- Charleston, visited Catholic Distance University’s new offices at 300 South George Street in Charles Town, West Virginia. After offering Mass in the chapel, Bishop Brennan blessed the building and met with the CDU team.
We are excited to welcome Bishop Brennan to our Board of Trustees and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as a continuing education partner.
A compassionate, humble leader, Bishop Brennan has a passion for serving immigrants and the poor. He naturally embraces CDU’s mission to educate learners worldwide for the growth of faith, ecclesial service, and leadership for the new evangelization.