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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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FEATURED SPOTLIGHT

December 7, 2020

MA Grad Reflects on Growth in Knowledge and Faith

In 2017, I was living with my husband and four children in Hawaii where the Army had sent us. While my youngest son was only two years old at the time, I started thinking about what kind of job I wanted to have when he would start Kindergarten. In what I can only describe as a “Holy Spirit moment,” I realized with great clarity that I should shift gears away from my background in business administration towards working in Religious Education. This would build on my previous experience as a corporate trainer and my volunteer experience at several military chapels where I had been active as a Catechist and as a leader in women’s ministries. I felt, and still feel, that Religious Education is the perfect sweet spot where I can use my skills and talents for something that brings me joy, helps others, and serves God. That summer, the previous Catholic Religious Education Coordinator (CREC) at the military chapel in Hawaii moved, and her position became open. The way the military works, I had to make a bid for my contract and was fortunate enough to be selected. The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) requires that all DREs and CRECs obtain a basic certificate in Catechesis, but I chose to go for a graduate certificate. Ever since I started learning about my faith on an adult level during my pre-cana religious education, I have loved growing in knowledge and being challenged to grow in faith. I researched different Catholic universities but chose CDU because the whole program was designed to be exclusively online, a major benefit for military families who move often and have crazy schedules, because of its existing partnership with the AMS, and because of the course descriptions. The application process was easy, and very soon I started my first course, THEO 503: The Catholic Theological Tradition, with Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio. I realized that I had found a “home,” and because I enjoyed studying theology so much, I applied to switch from a graduate certificate to the MA in Theology and Educational Ministry degree program. During my different classes, I found several classmates who were connected to the military including some on active duty joining from downrange. It helped me to feel understood when I shared about my work. Military chapels are unique in that most of the time, different Christian denominations and even other religions share buildings and resources. My studies helped me tremendously by letting me understand what the other denominations’ viewpoints were and how to defend the Catholic position firmly but charitably. THEO 640: Presenting the Faith in the Modern World was one of my most impactful courses in this regard. Another challenge in the military community is that the soldiers and families come from all of the different corners of our immensely diverse Catholic faith. In addition, frequent moves and the stressful life of training and deployments make it harder to build community and to form a team of well-trained Catechists. What helped me be successful was the emphasis on kerygmatic Catechesis and the conversion of the baptized that I took away from my courses SPIR 501: Applied Catholic Spirituality and RELED 560: Principles of Catholic Education. Now that my husband has retired from the military and we moved back to his hometown, I work at the civilian parish of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Indianapolis, IN. When I interviewed for the position, the Director of Religious Education of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis told me how highly he thinks of CDU. The main difference from my previous job is that I am now also working with the associated Catholic elementary school. I love that my children for the first time are able to attend a Catholic school and that I can assist in integrating faith formation with elementary education for them, as well as develop a strategy for life-long faith formation for all members of the parish. CDU has certainly prepared me by providing me the necessary theological knowledge and practical skills to be a Director of Religious Education, but what I appreciated the most is that the school and faculty went beyond that and helped me to not only grow in knowledge but in my personal faith as well. While I am still far away from sainthood, I am a better disciple now than before I attended CDU.—Ute Eble, MA in Theology and Educational Ministry (2020)   
December 1, 2020

BA Program Admissions Requirements Streamlined

Over the past 20 years, more than 31 million students have enrolled in college and left without receiving a degree or certificate, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. To provide greater opportunity to those seeking to complete a Bachelor’s degree at a faithful Catholic college, Catholic Distance University has reduced the number of credits required to enter its fully online BA in Theology degree completion program from 48 to just 18.  To allow students more time to earn their credits, the time limit for completing the program has been extended from 4 to 6 years. High Retention and Completion Rates CDU’s BA in Theology degree completion program is known for its high retention rate, which for the 2019–2020 terms is 86.8%. CDU’s retention rates are far above the norm for online universities, many of which struggle to retain students. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average retention rate among first-time, full-time students at online colleges is 55 percent and the average retention rate among first-time, part-time students is just 39 percent.  By choosing CDU, students have a very high expectation of successfully completing the BA program. “[Coming to CDU] was a great decision,” says Adam Beerling, who earned a BA degree in Theology and then went on to complete an MA degree in Theology at CDU. “I had all of these college credits and no degree, and the BA in Theology was the answer I was searching for. And for the first time in my life, my education was now something I could be passionate about.” Program Prepares Students for Wide Range of Careers The BA in Theology degree completion curriculum helps to develop critical thinking skills that employers value highly. Humanistic skills, such as emotional intelligence, ethics, and communication, are also developed through the program. Such skills are applicable to a wide range of careers and are highly regarded in today’s workplace. According to a 2019 report by The College Board, Individuals with bachelor's degrees will earn $400,000 more in their lifetimes than those with just a high school diploma. College-educated workers are more likely to work for employers that offer health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits as well. Greater Access to Higher Education for Working Adults CDU is committed to providing greater access to higher education through its affordable, flexible fully online programs that were designed around the needs of working adults. The university, which was founded in 1983, is featured in the Cardinal Newman Society College Guide, which was designed to help Catholic families learn about faithful Catholic colleges and navigate the college search process. With a student population that tends to be older than the traditional college student population, many CDU students have work, family, and volunteer responsibilities that make attending a campus-based program with fixed class times inconvenient or impossible. CDU’s Bachelor’s degree completion program allows them the flexibility to earn credits at a faster or slower pace according to their needs through classes that are asynchronous. CDU Is Transfer-Credit Friendly and Offers Flexibility CDU will accept up to 81 transfer credits toward the BA degree, and previous theology credits are not required. Students may have earned their credits at college or through the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, DANTES, or CLEP programs. Up to 30 such credits can be applied to the BA degree completion program. Students who wish to enter the degree completion program but have fewer than 18 credits can enroll in undergraduate courses at CDU prior to program acceptance to earn the required credits. The university also offers an AA degree program in Liberal Arts with a Concentration in Catholic Studies, and credits earned in that program can be applied to the BA degree program. Five academic terms are offered throughout the year, and most classes are just 8 weeks long, making it possible to earn the BA degree in four years from a faithful Catholic university that is committed to transmitting the true teachings of the Catholic Church. Online Campus Fosters Community and Student Success CDU’s robust Catholic community is fostered through a vibrant Student Life Center that is the online equivalent of a campus-based student union. In the SLC, students have access to a faculty advisor, a student life director who is a graduate of the MA in Theology degree program, and a student life coordinator who is a graduate of the AA degree program. Students engage in conversation with other students and the staff in the café and in a theological conversation area and pray together and enjoy fellowship in the chapel. In the SLC, they can also ask questions of a faculty advisor and access resources that promote student success.
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.”
WHAT OUR GRADUATES ARE SAYING ABOUT CDU
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As reported in CDU’s 2019 DEAC Annual Report, based on program exit survey data.

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