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FEATURED SPOTLIGHT

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.
October 17, 2019

Triple Graduate Returns to Teach at CDU

Deacon Frederick Bartels of Glade Park, Colorado, is a homegrown professor. He received his Catechetical Diploma (2014), BA in Theology (2016), and MA in Theology and Educational Ministry (2017) from Catholic Distance University, earning the latter two degrees Summa Cum Laude. In addition to his work as a theology professor, he serves the Diocese of Pueblo as parochial deacon assigned to St. Joseph Church in Grand Junction, Colorado, where he served earlier as director of religious education and director of liturgy. “I’m especially blessed to teach at CDU as a professor of theology, something which is a work of joy,” he says. “The people I’ve interacted with over the years at CDU are people who, at some point in their lives, fell in love with the truth who is Christ himself. That makes all the difference.” He describes CDU as a learning community of faith in truth. When asked what he enjoyed most about his experience as a student, he says, “Confidence in the fact that I was surrounded and supported by faithful people and confidence in the fact that I was receiving an education reaching into eternity. “In a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to receive an authentic education in theology, CDU is an institution where people learn what is really true as they are formed by divine revelation and guided by instructors who are aware of the importance of the magisterium as its authentic interpreter,” Deacon Bartels says. “There’s no point in attempting to acquire an education in theology from a university that removes itself in some way from the perennial belief and teaching of the Church. That type of “education” isn’t a true education in theology.” Deacon Bartels, who is married and has six children, spent many years in discernment before pursuing the diaconate. “Our Lord Jesus Christ called me to the diaconate in a progressive way over time, kind of like how the people of Israel were prepared by God over the course of centuries for the coming of Christ in history, to use an analogy,” he says. “In Exodus we read about how the people Israel were thick headed, stubborn, and stuck in their old ways. I’m sure God began calling me to the diaconate long before I had even heard of deacons. It took years and years for that message to get through.” One of the first times he thought about what it might be like to be a deacon occurred at Holy Mass. “I found myself listening to the priest and thinking about how I might present a homily on the same topic, about what I might say and what would be important to stress. Although, at first, I didn’t interpret any of that as an actual call to the diaconate, I gradually began to realize with increasing certainty that Jesus was indeed calling me to serve the Church as a permanent deacon,” he says. He put off the idea for about three years, since entering formation would require lots of travel time and a significant financial investment. “As time went on, people began saying things like, ‘You should become a deacon.’ Eventually I got to the point where I felt I needed to say “yes,” and I’m glad I did,” he says. After interviews, psychological testing, and four years of driving to formation classes six hours away, he was ordained in August of 2013. “It’s been a wonderful blessing,” he says, “not all roses, of course, but I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve Christ and his Church.” Deacon Bartels is also a contributing writer for various online publications, and he was recently featured on a radio show on the importance of truth in our lives and the dangers of relativism, which he defines as denial of certain absolute truths and moral norms that transcend the human person. “Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is known for frequently warning against the dangers of a pervasive influence of relativism in the West, an influence that is in many ways linked to the rapid rise of what he termed a ‘Culture of Death,’” Deacon Bartels says. “In fact, he noted relativism is so widespread that it affects people on a subliminal level. In other words, people often adopt relativism in an almost subconscious way, to varying degrees, without actually being fully aware of how significant its influence is in their lives, attitudes, and behavior.” “Relativism is dangerous because it infects the way people think about important beliefs and moral issues, introducing a kind of virus, if you will, into their moral code and society itself that attacks how people perceive the truth about the way things really are. Relativism is waging a war on truth; the human person is its casualty,” he says. People often ask Deacon Bartels what they can do to counter relativism. “The answer is prayer, the formation of conscience, immersion in the content of the divine faith, participation in the Holy Mass, and frequent reception of the sacraments,” he says. “Learn the faith. Read scripture. Become faith literate. Study theology (which is what CDU is about!). Then, refuse to let lies persist. Speak and live by the truth.” Deacon Bartels feels that the study of theology has changed him. “To be frank, I’m not at all the person I used to be,” he says. “My wife thinks it has something to do with space aliens. All kidding aside, people talk about ‘game-changers.’ The study of theology is on another level altogether. Theology is a divine science because it is an ordered inquiry into divine revelation.” “Although there were many subjects I could choose to learn about—and each is important in its own way—I recognized that theology is the subject above all subjects,” he says. “Taken seriously, the study of theology is a life-shaping and life-transforming process. It’s not simply about learning skills for success in the world, it’s about learning and understanding what God has communicated to his people for the sake of salvation.” “Theology provides answers to the most important human questions, questions that everyone, sooner or later, must answer,” he adds. “Theology is information of heavenly value that helps to point people toward their predestined end in eternal communion with the Tripersonal God.” “Looking back, it’s clear to me that the study of theology at CDU set my life on an entirely new path,” Deacon Bartels says. “It hasn’t been easy. It’s not a path most people choose to take. In fact, there’s no shortage of people who misunderstand the whole point of it. Some even think it’s a ridiculous enterprise. However, the study of theology has, by the grace of God, opened up opportunities in my life to really make a difference in the lives of others by serving Christ.” “If I could do a retake, I wouldn’t change a thing—except maybe listen a little more attentively and start the whole process earlier,” he says.
WHAT OUR GRADUATES ARE SAYING ABOUT CDU
Would recommend
CDU
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learning goals
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their studies
As reported in CDU’s 2019 DEAC Annual Report, based on program exit survey data.

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