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FEATURED SPOTLIGHT

February 6, 2020

Attorney Earns MA Degree While Living in Three Countries

Sarah Fellona, a practicing trial lawyer, wife of an active duty Air Force colonel, and mother of four, recently earned her MA (Theology) degree while living in Germany, Italy, and the United States due to her husband’s military service. “CDU’s flexible platform made it possible for me to continue my studies despite moves to three different countries,” Sarah says. “As long as I had my laptop and access to the internet, I could connect to my classrooms anywhere in the world.  I also really enjoyed interacting with people from many different walks of life who lived all over the world.  I met so many great people and felt comforted that I was not alone in my desire to learn more about the Faith.” Eager to share what she has learned at CDU with others, Sarah serves as the coordinator of rites at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Columbia, South Carolina, where she directs the RCIA program, teaches confirmation classes, and coordinates baptisms. “It is a joy to help ignite the fire of passion for God with those seeking the sacraments of initiation!” she says. The study of theology benefitted Sarah’s practice of law. “Despite our cultural slant on the legal profession, at its core the law serves to do justice.  From that standpoint, as a trial lawyer I find myself much less combative and much more compassionate,” she says. “I am much more prepared to witness, evangelize, and humbly defend the faith through everyday encounters in my profession.  That said, God has allowed me to use theology in interesting and creative ways in trial practice,” Sarah adds. “I tried a case in September in which it so happened that the daily readings I heard at Mass the last day of the trial fit perfectly into my closing argument.  It is a blessing to fully live out the Faith in everyday life even at work.” Studying theology also led her to desire a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. “St. Anslem said that theology is ‘faith seeking understanding,’ but in studying theology I experienced the dynamic of understanding seeking greater faith,” Sarah says. “The more I learned, the more I desired to know, love, and serve God.  I realized that without a vibrant spiritual life of prayer and sacraments, I did not fully grasp what was being taught in my theology classes.” When Sarah started at CDU, she attended Sunday Mass and an all-school Mass on Fridays with her children. “Now, daily mass is the bedrock of my day,” she says. Sarah completed her Master’s degree 4 years after enrolling in the program. She took a 1-year break while living in Rome to earn a Diploma in Spirituality from the Angelicum, and the foundation in theology she had gained at CDU was instrumental. “I had finished 2 years at CDU when we learned we were being stationed in Rome.  I was very fortunate that my coursework gave me enough of a foundation in theology to be accepted into the Spirituality program at the Angelicum,” she says.  While in Rome from 2017-2018, Sarah took 12 classes over 2 semesters at the Angelicum to earn the diploma. A few of Sarah’s favorite classes at CDU were Revelation & Faith: Fundamental Theology, Philosophy for Theology with Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, Pentateuch with Professor John Worgul, and Defending the Faith in the Modern World with Professor Chris Padgett. “Studying theology was pure joy,” Sarah says. “I could not learn enough fast enough to satisfy my hunger to know God more.  But it wasn’t until I began to take my spiritual life more seriously that theology came alive for me,” she reflects.  “It wasn’t head knowledge that helped me understand the Faith more, but heart knowledge born of sacraments and prayer.  The heart knowledge I began to acquire, however, was the progression of study.” Sarah is grateful to her husband and four children, ages 16, 14, 13, and 10, for their support while she worked toward her MA degree. “Not only did they accommodate the time needed to work on classes, they were actively interested in what I was learning and always prayed for me,” she says.
January 9, 2020

Dr. Marie Nuar Joins Administration as Faculty Chair

In January, faculty member Dr. Marie Nuar returned from Rome to begin working at CDU full time as faculty chair, a role that combines teaching and administrative responsibilities. Dr. Nuar has spent over 11 years overseas, living in Rome for most of that time but also in Cairo and Old City Jerusalem. She holds a doctorate in Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, an MA in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University of Steubenville, an MA in Jewish Studies from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and an STL in Missiology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Dr. Nuar also has a license in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome and is proficient in Arabic. “I am excited to be able to work on the organizing/planning side of things,” she says. Dr. Nuar will continue to teach several classes per year as well. “I really like the interaction and sharing what I have learned with students. To me, learning information without sharing it is like a lake that has an inflow but no outflow. It becomes stagnant and in the extreme, dead, like the Dead Sea.” The first course Dr. Nuar taught for CDU was Introduction to Comparative Religions: Judaism and Islam. “The more I studied Judaism and Islam,” she says, “the more I realized how much details can make a large difference. For instance, all three religions would posit that the world and humans are created by a benevolent God, that there are objective standards that he puts forth for what is right and wrong, that human beings have freedom to follow these standards or not, but that they will be judged accordingly.” “The difference lies in Christianity's belief in the Incarnation,” she explains. “’The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Opusc. 57, 1-4.) She adds, “In many things, especially compared with non-believers, we would agree, but in this one thing, the incarnation and God's closeness to and divinization of mankind, we differ. And that makes all the difference.” During her time in Rome, Dr. Nuar taught World Religions and Moral Theology of the Marketplace as an adjunct professor of theology at St. John’s University, Rome campus, and served as an adjunct professor for The Catholic University of America’s Rome campus, teaching Christian Art and Architecture of Rome. She also enjoyed working as a guide for the excavations beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. “One thing that shocks many Americans is that the 1st century Necropolis was specifically filled in in order to build the first basilica,” Dr. Nuar says. “Another thing is that there are two basilicas, one built by Constantine in the 4th century and a second (the first was torn down) built over a period of 120 years, mostly in the 16th century. A third is that it is a mostly pagan Necropolis. There are very few Christians (that we know of) buried there besides Peter.” In the Summer I term Dr. Nuar will teach Vatican II: The Church and Her Liturgy. In Summer II she will teach Church History II: Renaissance to Modern Church and Introduction to Comparative Religions: Judaism and Islam.
November 26, 2019

CDU Supporters Celebrate 36 Years at Annual Gala

Friends, trustees, faculty, and staff of Catholic Distance University gathered to celebrate 36 Years of serving the New Evangelization at the annual gala on Saturday, November 16th, 2019, at the National Shrine of St. John Paul II in Washington, DC. Award-winning WUSA9 newscaster Andrea Roane served as the master of ceremonies. The event was hosted by Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dr. Charles Wasaff and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, who serves as vice chairman of the Board and chancellor of the University. The theme of the gala was the dream of Pope Francis for a Church of Missionary Disciples who carry out a new evangelization along “new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.” The evening began with an Academic Convocation Mass to honor the university’s 2019 graduates, who hail from throughout the United States as well as Scotland, Singapore, and Japan. Archbishop Broglio served as the principal celebrant and homilist, and Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, served as principal concelebrant. Degree and certificate graduates attending the Mass included students from Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Maryland, and Virginia. Despite their diverse careers and professional backgrounds, all of the graduates actively lead or participate in ministries in their parishes and are committed to sharing the faith with others. They were warmly welcomed by University President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington and trustee of CDU delivered the invocation. “With the divine assistance of your Son, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the help of Mary our Mother, may this university remain effective and creative in communicating the truth and joy of the Gospel and mind and heart of the Church in a digital world and help others to do the same,” he said. In her remarks, President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount reflected on the characteristics that CDU graduates have in common. “Our graduates are the face of Christ in their varied circumstances of being on mission as disciples who fulfill the command of Christ to make disciples of all nations.” She also reflected on the wide reach of the global university, which has offered degrees for 20 years. “Catholic Distance University exists to communicate the mind and heart of the Church, a very ancient tradition to the children of God today, who dwell in a digital world. Our mission reaches the face and heart of students in all circumstances and places, including the barren walls of a prison cell and war-torn areas of the Middle East that may be home to our Military students,” Dr. Mount said. She added that in the last 19 months, CDU’s incarcerated students in prisons across the country with access to a new digital tablet loaded with CDU’s religious education courses have completed 110,000 courses. “The warmth of the beating heart of Jesus Christ crosses the threshold of CDU’s digital network whose door is always open, welcoming the curious, the searching, the hungry, and the determined believer, who seek the joy of truth in the discipline of study; at our University the human heart encounters the tender, loving, life-giving word of God by tapping an app on a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop computer,” she added. Dr. Charles Wasaff presented the Queenship of Mary Award to the Diocese of Brooklyn, the fifth largest diocese in the nation, which has partnered with CDU for over 10 years. In attendance from the Diocese were Theodore Musco, a CDU trustee and diocesan secretary for the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis, Father Joseph Gibino, academic dean of the Diaconate Program, and Janene Iocco, who earned the Certificate for Catholic Educators this year. CDU is the academic partner to the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Holy Spirit Institute for Service and Leadership, providing degree and certificate programs at the noncredit, bachelor’s, and graduate degree levels. Speaking of the flourishing partnership, Theodore Musco said, “It’s now developed into a multilevel program that involves learning not only for catechists and catechetical leaders, but also for those who want a higher education degree or a certificate in religious education or theology. We are very grateful for the opportunities that we’ve had to work with Catholic Distance University.” Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio presented the Founders Award to Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Pierre, who graciously accepted the award. “Founded in 1983 to offer opportunities for education and faith formation to those at the peripheries, today Catholic Distance University stands as a premier institution in offering graduate and undergraduate degrees and certificates in theology and scripture, as well as providing quality formation for catechists and lay leaders in the Church,” Archbishop Pierre said. His address noted the concerns Pope Francis expressed at the Synod on Youth about the effects of living in a highly digitalized culture and its profound impact on ideas of time and space, self-understanding, understanding of others and the world, and our ability to communicate, learn, be informed, and enter into relationships with others. “So often technology, even in education, is used for political activity and economic gain,” Archbishop Pierre said. “As such, there is a temptation to educate for efficiency and productivity, without concern for formation of character.” Yet, formation of character is essential to education and Catholic education in particular. Archbishop Pierre thanked Catholic Distance University for keeping character—and Christ—at the forefront of education. “The essential content of all the education and formation provided by Catholic Distance University is the person of Christ. He changes everything – makes all things new – for our young people, our Church, and our world. I am truly grateful to all at Catholic Distance University who work to make Christ more widely known and loved,” he said. Bishop Paul S. Loverde, bishop emeritus of Arlington and former chairman of the Board, offered the benediction at the end of the evening. In addition to a wonderful meal, fine wine donated by the Napa Institute, and a lively cocktail hour, attendees enjoyed the National Shrine of St. John Paul II’s multimedia exhibit on the life of the sainted late pontiff and a silent auction featuring unique items and trips to exotic locations.
WHAT OUR GRADUATES ARE SAYING ABOUT CDU
Would recommend
CDU
Achieved their
learning goals
Are satisfied with
their studies
As reported in CDU’s 2019 DEAC Annual Report, based on program exit survey data.

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