This year’s gala was our grandest event yet!

Catholic Distance University honored Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco with the Founders Award, its highest honor, for his “fearless pastoral leadership in upholding the truths of the Catholic Church” at its annual gala on November 17th. The event was held at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and offered the CDU community an opportunity to celebrate the university’s 39th year and look toward its future. The Very Reverend Joseph R. Gibino, Pastor, and Vicar for Evangelization and Catechesis of the Diocese of Brooklyn, served as the Master of Ceremonies.

Archbishop Cordileone Delivers Remarks upon Receiving the Founders Award

CDU Chancellor and USCCB President Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, presented the Founders Award to Archbishop Cordileone, lauding him as “a champion for human dignity, an outspoken advocate for the unborn, mothers in crisis, the rights of migrants and immigrants, and the homeless, and a staunch defender of the Catholic faith” whose mission aligns closely with that of CDU.

Archbishop Cordileone thanked attendees for all they do to support CDU. “Education is such an important part of rebuilding civilization,” he said, “and our civilization is being attacked on so many fronts.” “We live in an age that contests what is good,” he said, decrying attacks on innocent human life.

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

He reflected on the enduring power of truth, beauty, and goodness as doorways to God for all in an age of secularism and cancel culture, giving the destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral as an example. “The entire world mourned the loss,” he said. “The timelessness of sacred beauty gives it the power to lift us out of the world of time and gives us a glimpse of that which transcends time….ultimately, the reality of God.”

Cancel Culture Targets Western Civilization and Ultimately, Jesus Christ

Archbishop Cordileone spoke about the long history of cancel culture and its painful legacy. “We are living in an age of cancel culture. Was not our Lord ejected from influence because he posed a threat to the worldly power of the governing authorities and the leaders of his own people? Were not the people quick to judge without thinking things through?”

“What do the cancellers really want to cancel out?” he asked. “It is far more than those who disagree with them. The real activists are seeking to discredit the great protagonists of western civilization—both in the history of our country and in the Church.”

“By trying to cancel out western civilization, what the cancellers are really trying to cancel out is the Church,” he continued, explaining that “Mass encapsulates all of western civilization and brings together truth, beauty, and goodness all in one place.”

“We need to gaze upon Christ on the cross and truly behold our king, the one who truly gave all for us though He had no need to receive anything from us. Jesus Himself is the blueprint for a civilization of truth and love, a civilization imbued with a Christian ethos. The drive to cancel this out, then, is a drive to cancel out the founder of the Church, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Came to Cancel Out Sin

But, he reminded the crowd, “There is one cancel culture our Lord did come to establish: cancelling out sin. He has done that on the cross, cancelling out the debt we owed to God but could not pay ourselves.”

“That is the good news, and the pattern for how the human person lives in accordance with the original human dignity that God gave us. But someone needs to tell this to the world, to open deaf ears and break through the cacophony of postmodern cancel culture so the message can get out, penetrate hearts, and take root there,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

He thanked the CDU community for using modern technology to educate and evangelize.

Academic Convocation Mass and Graduation

The evening began with an Academic Convocation Mass for the class of 2021-2022, which included a graduation ceremony for the graduates present. They hailed from throughout the USA and Canada.

Chancellor Archbishop Timothy Broglio served as the principal celebrant. The Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco; Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington; Bishop Mark E. Brennan of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston; Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington; Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Octavio Cisneros of the Diocese of Brooklyn; and 15 priests and deacons.

High-Profile Professor to Teach New Graduate Course in January

CST 630 Respect for Life, Sex, Marriage, and Parenting: An Integrated Catholic Approach, a new 1-credit graduate course, is being offered in the Winter I term from January 30th through February 26th. The timely course will be taught by Helen M. Alvaré, J.D., M.A., a well-known law professor, dean, and published author and speaker.  She is currently Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Robert A. Levy Chair in Law & Liberty, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University.

The course will explore the Catholic Church’s teachings concerning sex, marriage and parenting as part of Catholic social justice, so that students can communicate these more effectively in ways that are responsive to contemporary culture’s values, skepticism, and sometimes hostility. Students will learn to:

  • Explain the faith and reason informing the Church’s teachings on sex, marriage and parenting.
  • Discuss the relationship between Catholic sex, marriage, and parenting teachings and the “architecture of the faith,” specifically, God’s identity, how He loves us, and how He wants us to love Him and one another.
  • Describe the unity of Catholic teachings about sex, marriage, and parenting, and about social justice.
  • Articulate contemporary secular objections to Catholic sexual expression teachings and how to effectively respond to these.

Online Seminar: Why Would a Loving God Allow Evil, Pain, and Suffering?

(January 16–February 6, 2023)

This three-week seminar will help participants better understand and share with others how suffering can teach us spiritual truths, build our character, and stimulate growth in sanctity and holiness. The lessons learned will support participants as they undertake the Spiritual Works of Mercy to comfort the afflicted, counsel the doubtful, and teach the uninformed. The seminar is taught by Steven Hemler, President of the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America.

Taking this seminar fulfills 1 continuing education unit. Coursework can be completed at your convenience during the dates posted.

Tuition is just $99. Enroll today!

President Honored for Service to the Church and Catholic Higher Education

On September 17th, Dr. Marianne Evans Mount was awarded Christendom College’s St. Catherine of Siena Award for Distinguished Service to the Church and Catholic Higher Education. The award was presented at the college’s 45th anniversary, which featured an academic convocation.

President Mount, who is recognized widely as an innovative leader in the field of education, encouraged students, faculty, and staff to always make Christ present. “Like Jesus Christ, His beloved Son, to be a Christian is to be a teacher. May your knowledge and witness make Christ present wherever you go and wherever you are,” she said in her acceptance remarks.

Also honored at the event were Leonardo Defilippis of Saint Luke Productions, who received the Fra Angelico Award for Excellence in Fine Arts in Service to the Beauty of the Catholic Faith, and Dr. John Bruchalski of Tepeyac OB/GYN, who received the college’s Pro Deo et Patria Award for Service to God and Country.

Mission Scholarship Makes Dream a Reality for DRE in Alaska

Mission scholar Heather Pariera Kimmerling, the Director of Religious Education (DRE) of St. Nicholas Catholic Church in North Pole, Alaska, graduated summa cum laude with an MA degree in Theology in May. Heather has wanted to earn a Theology degree since she began working in ministry. “I felt super unqualified because of the lack of this particular background. It seemed like I was working with people who had at least studied it a bit,” she says.

Heather earned two BAs, in Spanish and International Studies, and an MA in Teaching, at Willamette University. “I would have pursued a Theology degree sooner, but I am still paying off my student loans, and I had no interest in adding to my student debt,” she says. “The Mission scholarship offered to me was the turning point that made this dream a reality.”

“I have been blessed with the spiritual gift of faith, which I believe has allowed me to frequently know things that I have never formally studied,” she adds. “However, my studies at CDU have provided me with information and details that allow me to understand and explain things at a deeper level than I would have been able to otherwise.”

Heather has worked at St. Nicholas parish since 2015, which she describes as “very tight knit, welcoming, and family-friendly.” There are lots of families and children, and with the parish located between an Army and Air Force base, there is lots of parish turnover. “The Holy Spirit is very alive and present within the community,” she says.

Heather and her husband moved to Alaska from Oregon in 2013. “The cold here isn’t as bad as it might seem,” she says. “It’s a dry cold. I will take –20 degrees here any day to 30 degrees in NW Oregon.” Religious education classes are only cancelled if the temperature hits –40 degrees, or if the roads are icy due to freezing rain, she explains.

Yet, life in Alaska does come with challenges. “Educational opportunities in Alaska are severely limited, and those with a Catholic emphasis do not exist within the state. Having the opportunity for quality, Catholic, online education was a godsend,” Heather says, though internet access was a problem initially. When she began her studies, Heather did not have home internet and had to work out of the library or other public spaces with a connection. “Internet access is severely limited in the state; satellite internet is expensive and unreliable as the satellites aren’t this far north,” Heather says.

“When COVID hit and everything shut down, things became a lot more difficult for me because I no longer could go to the library or internet cafes to do schoolwork,” she says. She finally got internet at her home in November of 2020.

“I also experienced a bunch of health issues while pursuing this degree, the result of spiritual warfare,” Heather explains. “CDU was very helpful, understanding, and cooperative through all of it. I am still supremely grateful for all of the staff’s prayers. Nevertheless, despite all of the hardships that I endured, CDU was available to provide me with this great opportunity from which I have emerged successful.”

Like her parents, who taught baptism preparation, sang in choirs, and served as catechists, Heather has always been involved in some form of service to the Church. “During high school, my mom provided music for the Saturday evening Mass, and I sang with her,” she says. While in college, Heather was active in the Newman ministry. Then she taught high school Spanish for two years and worked as a parish secretary at her local church. She was active in a young adult group, helping to coordinate the activities, and she led the youth and young adult choir.

Between college and her return to parish work, Heather faced a few life challenges, including a divorce and a job loss due to downsizing. Her mom invited her to a non-denominational Bible study of Genesis in 2006, and she began attending. In September 2008, her home parish—St. Anthony’s in Forest Grove, Oregon—started advertising for a religious education position that was part Young Adult Ministry and part Pre-K – 6th grade.

“I decided to apply as my job search had yielded a few possibilities that had fallen through,” she says. “To be honest, I was applying predominantly for the Young Adult component and was unsure as to what I would do about the elementary school side. Remember, my teaching degree was for high school, and it’s a completely different approach to teaching.”

At the time, her Bible study was covering the life of Moses. “The pastor called me into his office to tell me that they wanted to interview me but that the position had changed to strictly Pre-K – 6th grade for the Anglo and Hispanic communities upon doing the exit interview with the former employee,” Heather  says. “I was honest with him and said that I would need to think, pray, and reflect on it.”

Reflecting on all of the questions Moses had for God when he told him to go back to Egypt and speak to the Pharaoh about letting his people go, she realized her feelings of “Why me? There’s got to be someone more qualified, and I don’t think I want to do this” were similar to those he had experienced. The phrase “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called” also began populating her thoughts. Feeling called, Heather took the position. She coordinated the Religious Education program for Pre-K through 6th grade students in the Anglo and Hispanic communities until her move to Alaska.

“I started my first day as a DRE firmly believing, as I still do, that had I not been participating in the Bible study, my heart would not have been in the state it needed to be for me to be able to say ‘yes’ to God’s call. For this reason, I am a major proponent of not just reading God’s Word, but actually studying it so that one applies it to his or her own life,” Heather says.

She enjoys sharing her faith with others in her role as a DRE. “The more I have come to learn about the Church, what she teaches, and God’s revelation, the more spectacular and the more in love with the Church I fall,” Heather says. “The interconnectedness of everything to God’s great love and mercy for us is so profound that there is no way anyone can honestly claim that He does not exist.”

Her biggest challenges at work often stem from the lack of formation of the parents. “The world/society we live in has succumbed so whole-heartedly to religious relativism—which I see as a form of the heresy gnosticism—and its effects on the members of the Church, particularly parents,” Heather says. “They don’t realize that relativism allows them to deify themselves because, in being able to say they can choose for themselves what the best way is to worship, God must be wrong, and if He is wrong, then He cannot be God, and they themselves must be, for only gods know all.”

“In working with them during the preparation of their children for First Communion, I strive to help them see the truth of God’s revelation, the importance of the sacraments, the significance of the Mass, and how the Eucharist is the very heart of who we are as Catholics. It always saddens me when the parents clearly just don’t get it,” Heather says. “I pray for them and that their hearts may be unhardened. However, this sadness does find a great deal of comfort in knowing that those I teach in RCIA all choose to become Catholic out of their desire to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.”

“My husband, who is unbaptized, is very proud and supportive of me,” Heather adds. “I am currently praying about how God would like me to use the degree and pursuing a few possibilities. I still like participating in the non-denominational Bible Study—it spiritually feeds me, even though I have to take some things with a few grains of salt, although I took a hiatus while pursuing the degree. I look forward to jumping back in this Fall to share my newly acquired understanding of God’s revelation with our Protestant brothers and sisters.”

Online Continuing Education Apologetics Seminar Offered in October

Registration is now open for The Art of Evangelization through Apologetics, which will be held October  3–24. Participants will learn to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others in a natural and engaging way, as Jesus did, and why being a credible believer is the most effective apologetic tool.

The seminar will be taught by Allan F. Wright, an author, professor, speaker, and Catholic radio show host who has a passion for scripture and the Catholic faith. He will cover current trends in the Church, models for evangelization, parish structures that support effective evangelization, and the role of apologetics in making disciples of all nations.

Professor Wright says, “While articulating the truth of the Gospel, we need the relational tools to start a conversation, build trust, serve, and then propose who Jesus Christ is. To quote St. Bernadette, ‘Our job is to inform, not convince.’”

Taking this seminar fulfills 1 continuing education unit for those who need to earn these units yearly to fulfill requirements.

Tuition is just $99. To register, visit https://www.pathlms.com/cdu/courses/38096.

MA Grad Looks Forward to Sharing the Faith with Others

Dan Soares recently earned his MA degree in Theology and Educational Ministry while working full time as CDU’s IT director. Born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, Dan was raised Catholic and was an active participant in the life of the Church, serving as an altar boy, a reader at Mass, and as a choir master and youth leader.

With a mathematical mind and a strong interest in science, Dan earned his undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of Mumbai at the age of 21. “The curriculum was rigorous and very much focused on memorization instead of practical application, unlike our system of education in the U.S.,” he says.

Like many other young Catholics in India and elsewhere, Dan fell away from the Church. “At the age of 23, I left to join a Pentecostal church in Bombay,” he says. “During my time as a Protestant, I encountered God through Sacred Scripture, through fellowship with other ‘believers,’ and in the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. They taught me to love God’s word, to see God as my Heavenly Father, to pray, and to seek to be a disciple. For this, I am very grateful.”

Dan’s parents wanted their children to have better opportunities, so they immigrated to the United States with Dan, his brother, and sister in 1987. The family’s port of entry was New York, where they lived for a number of years. “My uncle, Monsignor Nicholas Soares, was the first in my family to come to the U.S., and he sponsored his brother (my dad) and his other siblings,” Dan says. Adjusting to life in the U.S. was not especially difficult for Dan, who turned 26 the year he arrived.

“Catholics in India are fairly westernized,” he says, “and we spoke English at home, so language was not an issue.” Dan did have to speak slower to be understood, and he needed to learn local idioms and cultural practices that were different. “I quickly came to realize that ‘How are you?’ is the American equivalent of ‘hello.’ They weren’t really asking how I was doing. Community is a big deal in India, and I
missed that in the individualistic culture that is part of the way of life in the U.S,” he says.

Reflecting on his time away from the Church, Dan is reminded of the famous Fulton Sheen quote: “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

“In the 30+ years that I was away, Jesus’ prayer for unity (John 17:20–23) was a constant thorn in my flesh,” Dan says. “I could not reconcile that with the numerous denominations around me.” He also recognized that there was no ultimate authority to settle doctrinal disputes among Protestant brethren. “If you disagreed with a doctrine, you left and found a church that agreed with what you believed, or you started a new church.”

“God used some painful circumstances in my own family to start my journey back to the Catholic Church,” Dan says. “After a couple of years of reading the Catechism, attending daily Mass (while discerning what to do), calling Catholic Answers with my questions, and interacting with other converts to the Catholic faith, I finally returned to the Catholic Church at Easter in 2013.” When asked what inspired him to study theology, Dan points to his lack of formation. “Because I was so poorly formed in Catholic teaching and so easily led away from the faith, I wanted to understand why the Church teaches what it does and to be equipped to help ‘cultural’ Catholics who have grown up in Catholic homes but have not really appropriated the faith for themselves.”

“The MA program at CDU was challenging because I was working a full-time job while going to school,” Dan says. “It really helped that I was very interested in Theology as a subject, so that kept me going.”

Now that he has earned his degree, Dan plans to get involved in Faith Formation at his parish in the near future. In the past, he served in the choir, RCIA, and led a Men’s group and Bible study. When asked what the biggest takeaway from his educational journey is, Dan responds, “The knowledge I have acquired is not for my own sake, but rather to be shared with others. I look for opportunities to
share my faith with others, to pray with them, to meet them wherever they may be in their journey, and
accompany them.”

“Getting a well-rounded education in Theology in an online setting where I could study at my own pace” is what Dan enjoyed the most about CDU. He highly recommends the program to others, both as a staff member and as one who has critically evaluated the program as a student. “This is a fantastic program with a great curriculum that is faithful to Church teaching and amazing professors who love the Catholic faith and are gifted teachers,” he says.


“The online format is convenient for working adults because it lets you learn at your own pace in the
comfort of your own home, and the school is accredited by multiple agencies, so you can be assured that high standards are being met.”

Search for CDU’s Next President Underway

Earlier this year, Dr. Marianne Evans Mount informed the CDU Board of Trustees of her desire to retire as President of CDU as soon as her successor can be recruited and engaged. A Presidential Search Committee, appointed by the CDU Board of Trustees and representing all constituencies of the university, has selected executive search firm Hyatt-Fennell to manage the search process under the guidance of the Committee. Hyatt-Fennell was chosen from a field of highly regarded search firms because of its expertise in serving small- to medium-sized faith-based institutions and deep connections across the Catholic higher education community.

President Mount has served CDU tirelessly since 1983. Under her leadership, CDU has grown from a catechetical institute with a staff of two offering paper correspondence courses to the world’s only exclusively online, fully accredited Catholic university. She served as Education Director from 1983 to 1985, Executive Director from 1985 to 1996, Vice President from 1997 to 2008, and as President since 2008 after earning her PhD. Marianne’s zeal for CDU’s mission, in partnership with dedicated employees, have brought CDU to an inflection point, with unprecedented opportunities to enhance the value of a CDU degree and the contributions of our graduates to the Church. The enhanced value will be created by the university’s recent HLC and ATS accreditations, innovations in curricula enabled by grant opportunities, enrollment growth, and new academic partnerships.

Hyatt-Fennell’s two founding partners, Cheryl Hyatt and Sister (Dr.) Marylouise Fennell, will be leading the search, supported by Partner Dr. Robert Head, a former university President with 40 years of leadership experience. They will conduct listening sessions with individual Trustees in early August and with faculty, staff, administrators, and students during the weeks of August 8 and August 15. Our goal is to have the newly appointed president begin work in early 2023.

This is an exciting period of challenges and opportunities to advance CDU’s mission by playing a larger role in Catholic higher education in service to the Church. I will keep our community apprised of the progress achieved by the Search Committee at key junctures in the search process.

Thank you for all you do to advance the mission of Catholic Distance University. Your contributions are deeply appreciated.–Steve Pryor, Chairman Board of Trustees

Online Seminar Offered in August: Making the Case for Christ

Making the Case for Christ, offered August 8–29, 2022, will help Catholics strengthen their faith and develop objective and persuasive reasons for belief, which are valuable for sharing with those who may doubt the historical reality, divinity, or resurrection of Jesus. This continuing education seminar will help attendees better perform the Spiritual Works of Mercy to “counsel the doubtful” and “instruct the uninformed.” Making the Case for Christ is one of six online Apologetics seminars offered. Students who complete all six will earn a Non-Credit Basic Certificate in Apologetics.

The course instructor, Steven R. Hemler, is President of the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America (CAINA). He is author of a trilogy of apologetics books, The Reality of God: The Layman’s Guide to Scientific Evidence for the CreatorSearch No More: The Keys to Truth and Happiness, and Catholic Stories of Faith and Hope: How God Brings Good Out of Suffering.

Learn more and enroll today at https://www.pathlms.com/cdu/courses/42287.

Higher Learning Commission Accredits CDU

On June 23, 2022, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) granted initial accreditation to Catholic Distance University for its undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs.
Accreditation by the HLC provides assurance that an institution meets high standards in all aspects of educational quality, institutional capabilities, and governance, with a commitment to continuous improvement. HLC is the largest of six historically regional accreditors in the United States recognized by the Department of Education to accredit the nation’s institutions of higher education. In response to new regulations from the Department of Education, several of the historically regional accreditors have recently eliminated their geographic boundaries, expanding their accreditation service area to the entire United States.

President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount, who has served as president since 2008, lauded the landmark accomplishment. “Catholic Distance University celebrates with joy our welcome as an accredited member of the Higher Learning Commission and the broader higher education community of accredited schools. The hard work and adherence to high academic accrediting standards and practices have strengthened CDU and given further assurance to our students and graduates of the value of their educational credentials. We look forward to the witness of their service to the Catholic Church and the world, as they strive to serve the common good and especially the underserved.”

“CDU is now recognized with the same accreditation as many of the most prestigious brick and mortar universities in the U.S.,” said Board Chairman Steve Pryor. “This major milestone marks the beginning of the next stage of CDU’s mission: to communicate the mind and heart of the Church to a wider audience. As trustee Sr. Mary Brendon Zajac observed, this should be viewed ‘…as a Commencement rather than a Graduation….the real work is just beginning.’”

University Chancellor Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who heads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, said, “The news that the Higher Learning Commission has accredited Catholic Distance University offers a significant recognition to the commitment of the CDU community to academic excellence. I hope that this decision will be an impetus for the growth of the university and one more sign of its role in forming committed scholars especially in the theological sciences.”

Students will benefit in newfound ways from HLC accreditation, which ensures a quality of education that the general public has the right to expect and that the educational community recognizes widely.

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