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.
Despite the COVID-19 crisis, we are blessed that our students are continuing their online studies without disruption.
During Lent, a free continuing education course was offered to help believers connect with others, deepen their faith, and share in God’s love. Over 500 students enrolled from across the United States, Qatar, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, and Spain. As a follow up “Pentecost special” offer, two new continuing education courses were promotionally priced at only $25. CDU is blessed to be a blessing to others!
“Very informative”... “Worthwhile!”… “I am a fan.” These comments are just a sample of the feedback received from the 900 people registered for CDU’s free March webinar, What Luther Got Right and Wrong. More than 1,100 registered for the free May 6th webinar, Islam and the Catholic Church: A Conversation. One viewer wrote in thanks, “I’m sure most practicing Catholics do not know a great deal about Islam, so I’m very grateful. The webinar gave us a chance to gain information on a subject that is not aired often in our part of the world, Sydney NSW.” The Church’s Best Kept Secret: Catholic Social Teaching was held on June 3rd.
Given our increasingly secular and atheistic society, many people today have doubts about the basic tenets of Christianity, especially young people. Therefore, the need to equip Catholics to credibly, convincingly, and compellingly explain and share why we believe what we do has never been greater. A central belief of Christianity is that Jesus is the fully human and divine Son of God. But how do we know Jesus himself made that claim and how can we know if it is true? Making the Case for Christ, a 3-week apologetics seminar offered July 6 – 27, persuasively answers these questions. The seminar is taught by Steven R. Hemler, author and president of the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America (CAINA). Enroll today!
To begin, I want to thank everyone who has prayed for the safety and good health of our students, our faculty, our staff, and our Board of Trustees during this Pandemic. As far as I know, the CDU Family has been spared the effects of COVID-19, and we hope and pray that God will continue to protect us. CDU has a unique perspective in the world of Catholic higher education. As the only Catholic ONLINE university, we have not missed a second of our daily schedule and responsibilities. Our academic terms and curriculum are planned a year in advance, our terms begin and end promptly, our faculty teach and support students with the help of our Student Success Team, our Board of Trustees meets on their schedule, and CDU has continued a new strategic planning process during the pandemic.
However, we continue to learn of great stresses in higher education, especially for faculty suddenly forced to teach online and administrators dealing with obsolete financial models because of empty dormitories and luxurious but unused campus facilities.
Because of our expertise in online education, three recent projects have been added to our workload. One of those projects is the preparation and execution of a 10-hour, 4-week course, Teaching in a Digital World, for international faculty whose institutions are members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU), headquartered in Paris, France. CDU is a member of IFCU and is delighted to educate international faculty to teach online.
As we return to a “new normal” there will be a growing recognition of online education. While CDU was an anomaly only a few months ago in the world of Catholic higher education, we think our modality will be a permanent part of the future of Catholic higher education.