New Course on Catholic Social Thought Offered in Summer I Term

CST 500. Foundations of Catholic Social Thought explores the philosophical, anthropological, and  theological ideas that inform Catholic Social Teaching (CST). The course will be taught by faculty member  Reverend Dr. Avelino Gonzalez-Ferrer of the Archdiocese of Washington, who served on the Pontifical  Council for Promoting Christian Unity (2016–2021).

Enrollment in this 3-credit graduate course is underway for the Summer I term, and classes begin May  22nd. Students will gain a deeper and more holistic understanding of CST and delve into how these  principles are fundamentally challenged by modernity, resulting in the so-called “social question.”

This course sets the stage for CST 510 and CST 520, which present CST as an answer to the great social  challenges of late modernity through our present times.


Faculty and Staff Gather to Profess Their Faith

On March 6th, faculty and staff gathered at CDU headquarters in Charles Town and via Zoom to publicly make the Profession of Faith. Bishop Mark E. Brennan of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston led the ceremony, and CDU Chaplain Reverend Boh, Pastor of St. Bernadette Catholic Church of Hedgesville, WV, attended as well. The turnout from both faculty and staff was impressive. Those onsite also enjoyed a Mass led by Bishop Brennan as well as fellowship and lunch together. (Pictured, from left to right:  faculty member Dr. James Kruggel, Interim Provost Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, President Dr. Marianne Evans  Mount, Bishop Mark E. Brennan, Reverend Aloysius Boh, and faculty member Reverend Bevil Bramwell.)


Graduate Helps Counsel Domestic Abuse Survivors

Alumna Jenny duBay (BA in Theology, 2022) does not shy away from difficult situations, instead she steps boldly into them.  She knows the Holy Spirit guides her and has been opening the door for her each step of the way.  It is her deep faith and her trust in God that has allows her to firmly say yes each time she is called.

Jenny started taking courses at CDU because she was a Catholic author who wanted to make sure her books were well-informed.  She needed the correct information about our faith if she was to effectively write about it. Her experience at CDU provided the foundation she was seeking, and so much more.

As Jenny was working on her degree, a thought had been niggling at her that she should consider offering spiritual direction.  While that was not why she went to CDU, she understands in hindsight how critical her background in theology is as she provides spiritual direction these days.  As Jenny prepared to graduate in 2020, providing spiritual direction still seemed a long way off for her.  But God had other plans.

Jenny was introduced to Hope’s Garden, a Catholic platform that supports domestic abuse survivors.  They offer coaching and a spiritual direction group, and they approached Jenny to support them by providing spiritual direction.  Jenny said yes and has been working with abuse survivors ever since.

“The topic of domestic abuse is delicate,” Jenny explains.  Marriage is a sacrament, it is cherished.  Yet when domestic abuse occurs, where can one turn? The questions of those dealing with abuse are profound.  “Is my marriage valid?”  “What does God want me to do?” “Am I to put up with this?”  Domestic abuse survivors don’t know where to turn.  Often, they turn to their parish or their priest for assistance.

Sadly, the parishes and priests are often unaware of the situation or how to effectively advise abuse victims.  Jenny explains that 1 in 3 women are victims of domestic abuse.  As a result, the priests, the pastors, and the parishes need to know about this and understand how to help, as there are probably many, in any given parish, dealing with domestic abuse.  As she provides spiritual direction to victims, she is equally passionate about providing education to those in parishes who can help.

There are ways of supporting women in these difficult situations so that they can move forward, with their Catholic faith directing their steps.  For instance, Jenny explains, parishes can have Annulment Advocates to support those who need to consider that option.  However, few if any people are trained in this of yet.  This is where Jenny steps in; with books, articles, blogs, and newsletters, Jenny is committed to educating and helping others to navigate the challenge of domestic abuse.

As Jenny said, this work is delicate.  Many people struggle. They say they are open to help but are unsure of what to do.  Often women struggle with boundaries, and then become concerned that they are being selfish and not honoring God’s wish. But women are finding Jenny and the help they need to navigate these waters.  Simultaneously, priests and parishes are learning about Jenny and the tools available to support those in crisis.

Jenny recounts the story of a woman who was searching for support, stumbled upon Jenny’s website, and recognized the lighthouse pictured there. It turns out the woman lived near Jenny and was a member of her parish. There were many deep connections for these two women with God firmly at the center.  Jenny truly is a light in what can be a spiritual storm for those facing domestic abuse.  While Jenny may not know how or where the next person or parish may find her, she does know that the Holy Spirit is guiding the way.


Jenny’s digital links: (primary site)


Deacon Is Guided by the Holy Spirit

As Deacon Davin Winger looks back on his life, it is now obvious that the Holy Spirit has been prompting him for most of his life. Though that is typical of looking back, you can see the path so clearly in hindsight. In the moment, he did not necessarily understand the path ahead. However, he was always willing to say yes when called. Saying yes is how Davin found the Catholic faith, found CDU, became a Deacon, and now teaches and spreads the faith in Amarillo, Texas.

Davin grew up in the small town of Gruver, Texas. He grew up in the Church of Christ, as at the time, there was no Catholic church in the town. His mother’s maiden name was Gruver, and yes, her family was a founder of the town. Davin left Gruver to attend Texas Tech and it was there that he met his wife to be, Teague. Teague was Catholic and took Davin to Mass once with her family over Christmas. After that, Davin made it clear he would never be Catholic. But God had other plans.

As Teague and Davin had their first child, Davin started to ask the questions that so many new parents ask themselves. Why did he believe what he believed? What did he want to impress upon his future child? That led him to searching online about the Church of Christ and Catholicism. Divine providence was involved from those very early days. You see, Davin was a farmer, as his family had always been and as he had studied at Texas Tech. But on quiet days, when the weather did not allow for farming, Davin would study the internet, searching for answers. Davin stumbled upon a priest from Paducah, Kentucky, and called him out of the blue. After a wonderful chat, the priest sent him a copy of the Catechism, telling him to read it.

One thing led to another, and Davin came into the Catholic church in 2001.  He was still searching, trying to determine what else to do, when he found CDU online in 2004. He was intrigued. He already had a bachelor’s degree, but he was so new to the faith, did a Master’s degree even make sense? He could take a few classes, he thought, and just see.  Before too long, the registrar reached out to him.  He had taken so many classes, why not just apply to the Master’s program? He still was not sure. As he conferred with his wife, she asked why he was taking the classes. He replied, “For fun.” Teague, a banker now, with a MBA and a bit of a pragmatic approach, suggested that if he was going to keep doing it, he should get something out of it. So, he applied to the Master’s program.

In 2006 he decided to quit farming altogether. He gave himself a year to exit the business and began to apply for jobs with the church. A small university in Oklahoma not far from him was seeking a finance teacher. Davin had run a successful farming business for 25 years, so why not give that a try? He joined the university and started to teach business classes but did need his MBA to keep teaching. So, Davin, worked on his MBA as he worked on his Master’s in theology at CDU.

A few years later, Davin was feeling the call to deacon formation. He spoke with his trusted teammate, Teague, who, in the beginning, did not agree with Davin becoming a deacon. Not long after that conversation, Teague shared she felt God was calling Davin to be a deacon and to start that line of study. He loved the program but felt that much of it was review from what he had learned at CDU. As part of the diaconate program, he and Teague traveled to Amarillo once a month to meet with other candidates and their wives. What a blessed experience that was for them. Finally, in December of 2016, Davin was ordained a deacon.

While Davin was in deacon formation, his two boys decided to come into the Catholic Church as well. All grown, with college degrees of their own, Davin taught the RCIA classes that his boys were in. A farmer Davin had known for a while was also entering the Church through the RCIA program. He asked insightful, if not challenging, questions in class. As he asked and Davin answered, Davin’s boys and the other classmates witnessed Davin’s knowledge and the depth of his faith.

Davin never stops learning. Recognizing the need to minister to those who speak Spanish in the Diocese of Amarillo, he started taking Spanish classes. Eventually he went to Mexico to enter a language immersion program. Now he can even lead a Mass in a nearby Spanish church.

For all that Davin has accomplished to draw others to the faith, perhaps what is most gratifying of all is that his oldest son, Ryan, was called to the seminary at the age of 32. He is currently at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana.

Davin would never have imagined his life would take him down this path. Yet, as he looks back, he can see the prompting of the Holy Spirit at each step. What we see is a beautiful husband and wife team, always willing to say yes.

Education Laid a Firm Foundation for Sharing the Faith

Deacon Michael Holmes (BA, 2006; MA, 2016) has experienced and offered so much to people of faith through his life. As he shared story after story, he explained, “none of this would be possible without CDU.” His education from CDU not only informed and helped to form him, but it also helped to transform the way he ministers to people.

All too often, he would see people learning about faith, the Church, and the Catechism with their eyes glazing over. He wanted to help people grow in their faith, to teach people, to answer their questions, and that process did not happen overnight. In fact, it took a few years before he realized that he could teach what was complex in a very simple way. His CDU education laid that foundation. His goal, always, is to provide a basic understanding of what Scripture means and why the Church is teaching it.

Deacon Michael was ministering at a local jail, providing a communion service and reflecting on the readings of St. Paul for the day.  Trying to draw out a rather inattentive inmate, he asked what the inmate was thinking. The inmate muttered, “What made Paul so g..d.. good?” Deacon Michael easily replied that Paul had started out as a murderer in that he condoned the stoning of St. Stephen. But, while that is how he started in life, that is not how it ended. In that moment, in that response, Deacon Michael knew his CDU education had enabled him to provide a simple answer to a complex question.

Deacon Michael Holmes has spent his life studying, searching, and serving. He was one of the first students to receive a BA degree from CDU in 2006. He went on to receive his Master’s degree from CDU in 2013. He now serves as the deacon for the very church in which he and his wife were married 40 years ago. He is a preacher, a teacher of adult formation in Arizona, who currently serves on the diocesan deacon council under Bishop John Dolan.

What makes Deacon Michael Holmes so special is that whether he is preparing a homily or a class, what is always at the forefront of his mind is sharing the faith in a way that connects with others. The foundation that CDU provided gives him the knowledge and confidence to do what he loves: proclaim our faith, be in the moment, be present to others, and share the faith in a meaningful way with those he meets. Thank you, Deacon Michael, for touching so many lives!

Catholic Social Teaching Programs to Launch in 2023

Given CDU’s mission to educate the Catholic leaders of tomorrow, development of an innovative curriculum in Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is well underway. A new AA degree program in Theology with a concentration in Catholic Social Teaching designed especially for Hispanic Catholics, who will make up the majority of the U.S. Catholic population by 2030, will begin enrolling students in Fall 2023.  There is great need in the Hispanic community to develop well-educated leaders for the Church of the 21st century.

All courses in the affordable online AA degree program being developed by program director Dr. Gerardo Salazar will be taught in Spanish to ensure wider access to higher education for underserved students who may not be fluent in English. Students will benefit from success coaching, and upon earning the degree will be prepared to serve as lay ecclesial ministers in Catholic parishes, pursue further academic study, and potentially enter seminaries.

A graduate certificate program in CST, taught in English, will also launch in 2023. The curriculum is being developed by Rev. Avelino González-Ferrér, a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, and is targeted to priests, deacons, and lay ecclesial ministers who seek to deepen their understanding of CST to better serve their faith communities. Many Catholic pastoral leaders feel insufficiently knowledgeable when faced with the challenges of immigration, racism, poverty, and family breakdown. The curriculum will draw upon the Church’s broad and deep intellectual tradition to provide the wisdom and insights needed to address these issues within local parishes. There are also plans to develop a hybrid seminar-travel experience in Rome through which students can earn academic credit.

The first graduate course, CST 630: Respect for Life, Sex, Marriage, and Parenting: An Integrated Catholic Approach, will be offered from January 30th through February 24th and taught by noted law professor, writer, and speaker Helen Alvaré. Enrollment in the 1-credit course is underway.

These innovative programs, supported by an $879,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., will also foster greater collaboration with Catholic dioceses.

“CST is essential to the new evangelization and provides a lens through which to view the issues of our time more clearly,” says Bishop Robert Barron, the 2021 recipient of CDU’s Founders Award.  He added that Catholic social teaching is “not just for us, it’s for the whole world. We need to propagate it, we need to teach it. We need to announce it from the rooftops.”

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

Click here to learn more about the course

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 24th. 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!

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