An online apologetics seminar, The Art of Evangelization through Apologetics, will be offered October 2–23. Popular instructor Allan Wright will share the good news of Jesus Christ, whose teachings entrusted to the Church encompass truth, beauty, and goodness. Learn to communicate a faith that is both relevant and foundational for one’s life, and gain the confidence to share the Gospel in an engaging, natural way and appreciate why being a credible believer is the most effective apologetic tool.
Tuition is just $99, with discounts for our diocesan partners. To register, visit https://www.pathlms.com/cdu/courses/38096.
Two new Catholic Social Teaching (CST) programs, supported by an $879,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., recently began enrolling students. In the Fall I term, the first cohort of students began taking classes in 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.
All courses in the affordable online AA degree program are taught in Spanish to ensure wider access to higher education for students who may not be fluent in English or prefer to learn in their first language. Upon earning the degree, students will be prepared to serve as lay ecclesial ministers in Catholic parishes and pursue further academic study. There is great need in the Hispanic community to develop well-educated leaders for the Church of the 21st century.
A graduate certificate program in CST, with classes taught in English but with options for reading and writing in Spanish, is also now enrolling students. In the Fall II term, graduate certificate students can enroll in CST 510. Social Doctrine of the Church: 1891-1965. Classes begin October 23rd.
The graduate program was developed by Rev. Avelino González-Ferrér, a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, and is targeted to 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 draws 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.
“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.”
Catholic Distance University made Forbes Advisor’s top-four list of “best options for Theology degrees online” for 2023. This accolade confirms what we have known for a long time: the great value and high quality of a CDU education.
To determine rankings, the Forbes Advisor Education team sources data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and pulls information from reputable professional organizations and education providers’ websites. The rankings use a strict methodology to determine the best schools and programs for each category.
An expert advisory board of experienced professionals and educators reviews and verifies Forbes Advisor Education content to ensure accuracy and completeness.
Join us for an Open House Webinar on Tuesday, July 25th, from 7-8 pm EDT to learn more about CDU’s online degree and certificate programs.
You’ll meet Admissions Director Kyle Nordstrom, Interim Provost Elizabeth Shaw, Registrar Lois Owen, Faculty member Alissa Thorell, Student Life Director Heather Pariera-Kimmerling, and librarian Stephanie Garrett.
You’ll also have a chance to ask questions during a live Q&A session and be entered into a raffle to win a book written by one of our professors! Join us to learn more about what sets CDU apart from other online universities.
The Honorable Maria Sophia Aguirre, Ph.D., a distinguished Ordinary Professor of Economics and researcher in the field of finance, family, and economic development, was appointed the third President of Catholic Distance University on July 1, 2023. The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously elected Dr. Aguirre following a national search launched after longtime President, Dr. Marianne Evans Mount, announced her wish to retire at the end of the 2022–2023 academic year.
A tenured faculty member at The Catholic University of America, Dr. Aguirre has 30 years of teaching and research experience, while holding leadership positions at the academic program level, department and school levels, as well as the university at large. She was a Fulbright scholar in 2012–2013.
After completing Accounting and Business Administration degrees in Argentina, Dr. Aguirre worked in accounting and commodities trading in Chicago for several years before earning an M.A. and then a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame with concentrations in monetary and fiscal policies and international financial markets. She has represented countries, including the Holy See, in international organizations, and served the U.S. President and Secretary of State as a presidential appointee confirmed by Congress in the capacity of Commissioner and Adviser for two presidential terms. Dr. Aguirre has testified before Congress in the U.S. and in several other countries, and has lectured and published extensively both domestically and internationally.
Since leaving government, Dr. Aguirre has worked to develop and implement Integral Economic Development (IED), an interdisciplinary approach to economic analysis that recognizes the role of social relationships—first manifested by the family—as key drivers of economic activity. Dr. Aguirre’s research, and the two master’s degree programs in Integral Economic Development she founded, have led to successful collaboration with a variety of business leaders, academicians, technologists, and policy makers on six continents, improving the lives of millions of people in the developing world. She is currently on leave at the University of St. Thomas in Houston conducting research on the application of IED to artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
“In searching for a successor to our great President, Dr. Marianne Mount, CDU struck gold in recruiting Dr. Aguirre,” said CDU’s Board Chair, Stephen Pryor. “Sophia Aguirre is a visionary academic leader with a track record of successful academic innovation, as well as pioneering economic research that is Catholic Social Teaching (CST) in action. As CDU implements its new CST curriculum in the U.S. and Latin America, her international experience, fluency in Spanish, and research background will be game changers,” Mr. Pryor said.
Marianne Mount Lauded for Leadership
President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount has served CDU for 40 years. Under her leadership, CDU has grown from a catechetical institute with a staff of two to the world’s only exclusively online Catholic university, with accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and The Association of Theological Schools. Dr. Mount served as Education Director from 1983 to 1985, Executive Director from 1985 to 1996, Executive Vice President from 1997 to 2008, and as President since 2008 after earning her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech.
Under Dr. Mount’s leadership, CDU is implementing an innovative new curriculum in Catholic Social Teaching, enabled by the largest grant received in the university’s history, as well as new academic partnerships that will foster enrollment growth and offer students an expanded range of academic programs.
In reflecting on the contributions of President Mount, Mr. Pryor noted that “Marianne Mount has been a remarkable servant leader who has devoted her entire professional career to advancing the mission of CDU. Under her leadership, CDU has built a reputation as a pioneer in online theological education that is completely faithful to the teachings of the Church. Dr. Mount was recently appointed as a consultor to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education in recognition of her many contributions to the innovative realm of Catholic distance education. As she hands over the reins to Dr. Aguirre, the CDU community looks forward to an exciting future as a global trendsetter in online Catholic education.”
Dr. Aguirre’s vision for CDU builds on the foundation laid by her predecessor. “Under the leadership of Dr. Mount, the university has forged an impressive path and is now positioned for growth that will include curriculum development in mission-related fields, a larger global footprint, and a new agenda of institutional research through CDU’s proven online pedagogy. I am honored, grateful, and humbled by this opportunity to lead CDU on the next stage of its journey,” she said.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Mary Kate White, Director of Communications, Catholic Distance University, 300 S. George St., Charles Town, WV 25414 email@example.com; 304-724-5000, ext. 717. To learn more about CDU, visit cdu.edu.
Like so many journeys in faith, Maritza Mejia’s journey simply kept unfolding. She never planned for this journey to occur but is ever grateful for her path.
Maritza is from Colombia and her husband from Nicaragua. Twenty-eight years ago, they were married and came to the U.S. As she raised her two children, she wanted to be part of their education. What better way than to serve as a volunteer in their classes? Her children were in public schools, and she wanted them to be strongly rooted in the Faith, so she enrolled them in a catechetical program and served as a volunteer for it as well.
Maritza had always been a servant in the local parish church and the community. She said yes to many roles and yearned to be enriched spiritually and intellectually along the way. But the yearning to teach kept calling to her. She went from volunteering in the classroom to teaching catechism. For 14 years now she has been a catechist, teaching primarily 6th and 7th graders as they prepare for confirmation.
She finds students of that age to be interesting. So many times, after having received their First Holy Communion, students fall away from the faith a bit. But, as they embark on studies for confirmation, they must catch up and relearn what they were taught before as the Holy Spirit guides and encourages them to learn about the Faith.
When COVID hit and lockdowns occurred, all of the confirmation preparation courses shifted to Zoom. Maritza was determined to make Zoom classes more personal and inspire the students to turn back to the Lord. As she found herself quiet as well during the lockdown, she began to explore how she could deepen her prayer life and learn more about her faith. She embarked on the Master’s in Theology at CDU and received her degree in November 2022.
Already, she sees such enormous value from her degree. She finds that her teaching has improved, she now knows the strategies to use, where the resources are, and is constantly revising her lessons based on what she has learned from her coursework.
But what Maritza values the most is that through her studies in theology, she learned to let God guide her to serve Him. She had never done that before. Her studies were not just about becoming more knowledgeable, they led her to pray to praise God, to serve Him, in ways that are new for her.
She now sees His hand along her path, as she says yes to God. As CDU develops its Catholic Social Teaching program, Maritza has been tapped to help translate information into Spanish for the program. She shared, “I am totally blessed for this opportunity!”
Maritza is a beautiful example of how God guides someone to serve Him: from a dedicated mother of faith, to teaching others catechism, and now translating material so even more people can turn to God. Maritza gives witness to all of us of the work God does in our lives when we simply say yes to Him.
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.)
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.