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COVID-19 CDU Community Update

Be assured that Catholic Distance University remains fully operational, and there will be no disruption to educational services or contact with our staff or faculty. Until further notice, staff will work remotely. We encourage you to communicate with us by email to ensure a prompt response. Staff will continue to receive phone calls and voicemail, but mail will be checked only occasionally. We pray that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. University officials will continue to post any updates here.

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Registration for the Winter I and II terms is open. Winter I courses begin January 11th; Winter II classes begin March 8th. View courses here.

FEATURED SPOTLIGHT

November 16, 2020

Recently Ordained Deacon in Australia Earns MA Degree

Order of Malta member Deacon Adam Walk of Brisbane, Australia, recently completed his MA in Theology at CDU to meet the academic requirements for becoming a deacon in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. He is also a financial economist with a PhD from Griffith University with a busy career that involves lots of travel. Ordained in November 2019, he is nearing the end of his first year of service. “Being in the midst of a pandemic, it has been a very strange first year of ministry as a deacon,” Deacon Walk says.  At this time last year, he wasn’t expecting to be assisting at online Masses without an assembly. His ministry is quite broad. He is a part-time police chaplain, he and his wife do pre-marriage and newly married ministry together, he is involved in governance roles within the Archdiocese that use his professional skills, and he serves at the parish where he is appointed assisting at Mass, as RCIA instructor, and as a member of the Pastoral Council. When asked what he enjoyed most about CDU, Deacon Walk says, “There are several aspects. The first—and this might sound like a strange answer when talking about an online institution—is community. I have never met a single one of my professors or fellow students in person, but I can say that I felt like I was part of a community that is both faithfully Catholic and eager to learn.” “This was encouraged by the professors—the second great aspect of CDU—who were passionate about their subject matter and committed to the learning experience of their students,” he continues. “As someone who has studied most of his adult life in one form or another—face-to-face and online, undergraduate to doctoral level—I can say that I have never had a better collection of teachers than I had at CDU.” Deacon Walk appreciated the flexibility as well, which allowed him to fit in his study commitments around his professional work and travel schedule. “It was great to have so many teaching periods, because it allowed me to progress quicker than I otherwise could have,” he says. “I completed PHIL 508 Philosophy for Theology in five cities: Brisbane, Melbourne, London, Oxford, and Rome, with a lot of time on planes for reading!” he adds. Deacon Walk was in his 30s when he entered the Church in the Easter season of 2006, receiving the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and first Holy Communion. “From then I was quite intentional about formation because I felt I had a lot to learn,” he says. As he learned more about the Church, he became aware of the diaconate and the fact that it was open to married men. In 2014, a Texan friend suggested he consider the diaconate. He prayed about it, discussed it with his wife, to whom he has now been married for 21 years, and decided to apply to the program in his hometown of Brisbane. He was accepted in 2015 and began searching for a theology degree program to fulfil the academic requirements for becoming a deacon. “I was on the lookout for a good quality theology program that was flexible enough to balance with my professional life,” Deacon Walk says. He began studying through a distance education provider in Australia but found that it was less a curriculum and more a selection of courses. In late 2015, Deacon Walk learned about CDU when a podcast of The Catholic Café—which is a ministry of the Order of Malta hosted by Deacon Jeff Drzycimski of the Diocese of Memphis—popped up on his iPhone featuring CDU President Dr. Marianne Mount. “In the podcast, Dr. Mount refers to an Ordinariate priest from Brisbane – my home town – who had completed CDU’s MA. In any event, Dr. Mount was very convincing, and it was clear from the example she gave that I could study from here,” Deacon Walk says. “Once I learned that CDU is recommended by the Newman Guide, my decision was made.” Campion College—a Catholic liberal arts college based in Sydney of which Deacon Walk is a trustee—is also listed in the Newman Guide. His discernment continued throughout the formation process. “I knew I was in the hands of the Church in terms of whether I would be ordained, so I just tried to do my bit and see where it led,” he says. “I was ordained on the Feast of St. Andrew last year, around six months prior to completing the MA at CDU.” “I couldn’t imagine trying to fulfil my responsibilities as a deacon without the academic formation I received at CDU,” Deacon Walk says. He was attracted to the CDU program partly it culminated in a comprehensive exam, which isn’t common at universities in Australia. “I thought preparing for a comprehensive exam would force me to synthesize content from a range of subjects. So, in a way, it was the fear of having to one day give a homily that drew me to CDU,” he adds. Deacon Walk’s professional work is divided between being an investment advisor to wealthy clients and small institutions, such as foundations, and fulfilling governance roles for a range of organizations. Earlier in his career, Deacon Walk taught economics and finance mostly to graduate students at several universities and published research in his field. He is an adjunct faculty member with the business school of the University of Notre Dame Australia currently, though his responsibilities in service to the Church preclude him from pursuing research with the same focus as a full-time academic. “In my professional work, I am in a position of trust where I am required to act in the best interests of others, be they clients or, say, the beneficiaries of the pension fund of which I am a trustee director,” Deacon Walk says. “In this sense, there are some similarities with being a deacon, which places me in a position of trust where I am called to serve others.”
October 22, 2020

Theological Librarian Publishes Article about Online Library

Theological Librarian Sister Rebecca Abel recently published an article, “Online Library at Catholic Distance University,” in Theological Librarianship, an open access journal for peer reviewed articles as well as essays and reviews on subjects at the intersection of librarianship and religious and theological studies that potentially impact libraries. Sister Rebecca has been CDU’s theological librarian since 2015. Originally from Owensboro, Kentucky, she is a Sister of St. Benedict based in Ferdinand, Indiana. Her order lives faithfully the 1,500-year-old tradition of Benedictine life: they seek God together, pray daily, and share their lives and ministries with others. Sister Rebecca served as librarian of the North American College in Rome, Italy, for 17 years after 25 years in the SE Dubois County Public Schools as librarian and director of Media Services. She earned her B.S. in Education from St. Benedict College and an M.L.S. from Ball State University. Under Sister Rebecca’s direction, the CDU online library has significantly grown its collection to provide ample online resources and e-books. In addition to maintaining the online library, Sister Rebecca assists students and faculty with research, locating resources, and provides guidance to students in writing. Organized around nine modules, the Canvas LMS-based library has seen usage grow significantly with her efforts to increase its holdings and make it more user friendly. Students and faculty can browse the library by accessing an Index page, links to websites offering open access resources are included, and e-books can be checked out through the ATLA E-Book Lending Program. Links to open access and public domain e-books are also provided. A module on “Research and Writing” provides a link to the online Chicago Manual of Style and various writing guides. Specific term paper and citation guidelines required by the CDU faculty are included as well. Resources are easily accessible to students and faculty 24/7. For scholarly theological journal articles, students can access the EBSCO/ATLA databases. Additional databases and e-books are added yearly so that students have access to the materials needed for research and study. Read Sister Rebecca’s article here: https://serials.atla.com/theolib/article/view/1931/2202.
September 29, 2020

Student Helps Lead Pandemic Response at Hard-Hit Hospital

Charles Aviles of the Bronx, New York, is working toward his AA degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Catholic Studies while working as the director of life safety, fire safety, and emergency management for Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, which has experienced significant loss of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lincoln Hospital serves one of the poorest communities in the USA and has the third busiest emergency room in the nation. Charles served as the incident commander during the pandemic, working in the command center, and was then infected with COVID-19 and out of work for 15 days. Upon returning to work, he headed the Mass Fatality Program, where he tried to handle all of the decedents in a dignified manner during very difficult circumstances. Charles has been married for 30 years and has four children. He has completed 11 courses in just over 2 years. Charles’ path to Theology began when he took catechist courses through the Archdiocese of New York after learning about CDU on the archdiocesan website. “I have ministered for the confirmation class, RCIA, and a Bible study in my parish,” he says. Currently 53 years old, he will be eligible for retirement in 5 years as a NYC worker. “My goal is to earn my Master’s degree by the time I retire and then work for the Archdiocese of New York in some capacity, hopefully teaching theology,” he says. Charles would also like to join the diaconate program at some point. “CDU has been an incredible blessing for me,” he says. “The flexible programs have allowed me to manage a very high level position in the hospital with an enormous amount of responsibility. I am on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a tier 1 classification. My position is very challenging; being a city hospital we are terribly underfunded and understaffed. I work long hours and 6-7 days a week, sometimes 16 hour days because of staff shortages. It would be impossible for me to earn a degree in a classroom environment.”  
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As reported in CDU’s 2019 DEAC Annual Report, based on program exit survey data.

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