Our Sisters Will Be Missed

After nearly 20 years as Dean of Catechetical Programs, Sister Mary Margaret Ann Schlather, SND, has returned to the Sisters of Notre Dame in Chardon, Ohio, for a well-deserved retirement. She also successfully led accreditation efforts and has left a legacy of joy.

Sister Rebecca Abel, theological librarian since 2015, retired recently as well. The online library blossomed under her direction, and she showed great devotion to serving students. We wish her a blessed retirement with the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand, Indiana.

Sister Mary Brendon Zajac, SND, DMin, Assistant Academic Dean at St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology, retired from the Board of Trustees in June. Her experience in accreditation greatly benefitted CDU, and we are grateful for her selfless hard work.

New Board Members

CDU welcomes Brian Maher to the Board of Trustees. After a 33-year career with the Exxon Corporation and post-merger ExxonMobil, Maher’s vast executive-level financial management experience will benefit CDU. Maher is an honors business graduate of Dartmouth College and received an M.A. in International Economics from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy. Maher serves on multiple boards and lives in Naples, Florida, and Basking Ridge, New Jersey, with his wife Shelley.

We welcome Michael Miotto to the Board of Trustees. He is an innovative IT executive with state-of-the-art experience in multiple industries, including higher education. Most recently, he led Ford Motor Company through the Industry 4.0 revolution by enabling industrial IoT, cloud computing, virtual/augmented reality, and artificial intelligence fueled by big data and analytics. He has also served as CIO at American Public University System and Credit Acceptance Corporation and CTO at e-Chemicals and MRM Digital Ad Agency. We look forward to benefiting from his extensive expertise to keep CDU on the cutting edge of technology.

Dr. Charles Wasaff Retires from Board of Trustees

A retirement celebration for Dr. Charles R. Wasaff was held on June 10th and hosted by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington. Dr. Wasaff, a trustee since 2012 and chairman from October 2017 until March 15th, was honored for his strategic leadership. As the first elected lay chairman of the Board of Trustees, he led CDU through rigorous accreditation processes, and accreditation with ATS was granted under his tenure.

By developing a powerful board and instituting an advisory board, he assembled a team that rivals those of the most prestigious universities and positioned CDU for future growth. Under Dr. Wasaff’s leadership, CDU developed a new MA degree program in Theology and Educational Ministry and a Catechetical Coordinator Certificate program. He oversaw articulation agreements with American Public University System and Shepherd University and encouraged CDU to partner with the International Federation of Catholic Universities.

Reflecting the love of Christ, he recognized that we have the tools and expertise to educate not only those who serve but also the underserved. This vision gave rise to CDU’s Mission Diocese Scholars program, which enables areas without local Catholic universities to employ CDU graduates to evangelize and inspire the peripheries. He also initiated CDU’s digital prison ministry program. Jesus says, “you will know them by their fruits.” We are grateful to Dr. Wasaff for the bountiful harvest he created for CDU.

We Welcome New Team Members

Dr. Elizabeth Shaw was named associate dean of accreditation. She currently teaches philosophy and is also associate editor of the quarterly journal The Review of Metaphysics.

Cynthia Stalcup, a 2020 honors graduate of CDU’s MA in Theology and Educational Ministry program, joined the staff as catechetical subject specialist and Student Life coordinator. Stalcup has been active in parish youth ministry since 1992 in the Diocese of Arlington. She currently serves as a catechist at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Ashburn, Virginia, and is also CDU’s Outstanding Graduate of the Year.

Stephanie Garrett is our new librarian. With more than 30 years of business, development, and leadership experience, she will engage and support students while growing the digital library. She previously served as executive director of Tenn-share, a Tennessee library consortium in Nashville. Garrett has a Master
of Science degree in Information Sciences from the University of Tennessee and also earned a BA in Theology from Aquinas College in Nashville, where she graduated with honors.

Student & Alumni News

Grad Publishes Guide to Christian History Rudiments of Christian History: An Outline of Persons, Events, and Teachings is a new book by Michael Petruzzelli (MA in Religious Studies, 2001), an educator who holds several degrees and taught theology at a Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., for 10 years. The book was published in April by Christian Publishing, Inc.
Written in the format of an informal outline, Petruzzelli’s book presents a summary of some of the major topics of the 2,000-year+ span of Christian history. He provides various interpretations of causal relationships of key events, insight regarding historical persons who significantly impacted the course of Christian history, and a concise explanation of basic Christian teachings and theologies. You can review a synopsis of the book on YouTube or purchase the book in bookstores or on Amazon.

Alumnus to Be Ordained a Deacon Recent graduate Asadur M Minasian, who earned his MA degree in Theology in July 2021, will be ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons by His Excellency Bishop Mikael Mouradian, Eparch of the Armenian Catholics in the U.S. and Canada. The event will take place at St. Mark’s Armenian Catholic Church in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, September 12.

Let the Perpetual Light Shine upon Her After a life filled with blessings, CDU graduate May Gay Moore, 78, entered eternal life on August 11, 2021. A wife and mother, May’s greatest interest and passion was her Catholic faith. She taught CCD and in the RCIA program at the Little Creek Catholic Chapel in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She earned her Master of Arts degree in Theology at age 64, an accomplishment of which she was immensely proud.

Thesis Focuses on St. John Paul II’s Insights into the Christian Family

Elizabeth Gillson recently graduated from CDU with a Master of Arts degree in Theology. Her thesis, “Recalling God’s Design for the Family: A Review of John Paul II’s Theology of Family as Expressed in Familiaris Consortio,” has been
published in the Summer 2021 issue of Digital Continent.

Gillson shares insights from John Paul II on the Christian family. Professor Chris Padgett’s review exclaims, “In an age confused and often at odds with Catholic teachings of marriage and family, I found Gillson’s thesis an excellent reminder that the Catholic Church continues not only to uphold the integrity of its teachings in this critical area but also adapts them to meet modern challenges.” Enjoy reading her thesis at https://en.calameo.com/read/00616140268a1fa7fd06d.

Elizabeth and Michael, her husband of 25 years, are raising their 10 children in the Diocese of Arlington. She is pursuing a career in theological writing and research. You may also read her scripture reflections for youth at achildscatholicscripturestudy.com.

Deacon with Fascinating Career History Joins CDU Faculty

At St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Permanent Deacon Rick Bauer delivers a powerful sermon on the Eucharist as the true body and blood of Christ. He challenges the widely held belief among many sitting in the pews today that the Eucharist is symbolic. He concludes, “How about it, Catholics? As it becomes more difficult to accept this teaching, more will walk away, because there will always be convenient, palatable substitutes for the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. As for me and my family, in the Communion line, when they say ‘The body and blood of Christ,’ I will say ‘Amen.’” To further make his point, he has prepared a two-page parish bulletin insert that supports the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist with passages from Scripture, the Catechism, and the words of the Fathers of the Church.

Deacon Rick Bauer recently joined CDU’s faculty and will teach SCRPT 210 Reading Scripture Theologically and SCRPT 520 Pentateuch. He holds a ThM in Hebrew Bible from Harvard University Divinity School, an MA in Biblical Theology from The Augustine Institute, an MSc degree in the Management of Technology from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and an MA degree in English from the University of Florida.

Deacon Rick is also a published author of three books, a technologist, and a member of the Permanent Diaconate Formation Program teaching faculty for the Diocese of Colorado Springs, where he has taught since his ordination in 2011, preparing groups of men–and their wives–for the challenges of being an ordained servant of Christ.  He currently serves as the review editor for The Colorado Catholic Herald as well.

A revert to the Catholic faith, Deacon Rick Bauer’s professional background includes stints as a Protestant minister in the Church of Christ, technology manager, consultant on cults for the FBI, and chief technology officer for the U.S. Presidential Inaugural Committee & Presidential Transition Team for President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney in 2000 and 2001. His career path—and faith life–have taken a long and circuitous path.

Deacon Rick was raised in a Catholic family and attended Catholic school halfway through high school, but he left the Church as an undergraduate at the University of Florida after being invited to an informal bible study. “I had accumulated a lot of ‘Catholic stuff’ but did not have it in any coherent form, nor could I recall anything much of value when I got to college,” he says. “I know what attracted me on campus to the evangelical Protestant outreach was their confidence in their biblical understanding (far more than mine), their friendliness and willingness to invite me to an informal bible study,” he says.

Though the bible study was billed as nondenominational, it turned out to be quite anti-Catholic. While he had serious questions about leaving the Faith and being baptized as a Protestant, there were no Catholic resources on campus for guidance, and he became a member of the Church of Christ.

“A lot of Catholics end up losing their faith in the first semester,” Deacon Rick says. “Most Catholics leave their faith from age 18-22, and only a few Catholics are really paying attention to this. That’s why my wife and I support the FOCUS outreach programs going on at many campuses in the United States, and here in the University of Colorado system,” he adds.

After graduating, he decided to forgo law school to join the Church of Christ ministry training program. The church was growing rapidly throughout the south, and he was offered a position as a campus minister at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Membership in the campus ministry swelled under his direction, but the rapid growth of the Church, lack of structure, and inexperience of the leaders led to splits in the church and disillusionment of the members. “Ignorance doesn’t scale very well,” he says.  He returned to the University of Florida to start a school of ministry and pursue a Master’s degree. Eventually, the leadership of the church in Gainesville became unaccountable, and Deacon Rick left for Boston to finish his Master’s degree in Hebrew bible at Harvard University’s Divinity School. At the time, he was still a minister in the church.

The more Deacon Rick studied and reflected on the bible at Harvard, the more he realized there were holes in Protestant theology and that the Old Testament didn’t need to be taken word for word as those in the evangelical movement believe.

But his renewal in the Catholic faith was ultimately driven by his realization that the Eucharist is truly the real presence of Christ; he remembered a wonderful experience he had had receiving Christ at Mass as a child. He resigned from his ministerial position in the Church of Christ, drawing ostracism and harassment from members. Toxic Christianity: The International Church of Christ/Boston Movement Cult, published in 1994, details his negative experiences in the movement. As a guest on EWTN’s The Journey Home, he tells the story of his return to the Catholic (the episode is available on YouTube).

After completing his degree at Harvard, he returned to Washington, D.C., to work as a technology manager in his father’s business and study at The Catholic University of America. One day in February 1993, he received a phone call. “It’s a strange call when the secretary says, ‘Mr. Bauer, FBI on line 2!’” he says. With a dangerous situation brewing at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, the FBI had called Harvard University for advice on dealing with cults, and his professor had recommended him as a consultant.

While in Boston, Deacon Rick had spoken with his advisor, “a brilliant man who was helping with his faith transitions,” about how some of the same settings for apocalyptic conflict in the Hebrew Bible might also occur with millennial expectation at the turn of the century, so in the 1990s he studied groups that had a biblical veneer but were cultic.

The situation in Waco tuned into a violent 51-day standoff between members of the sect and federal agents, four of whom were killed. Two members of the sect were killed in the fighting, and then a fire swept through the compound. “We had been studying this very issue–a cult-like, violent group, apocalyptic mindset, yet with a biblical exterior,” Deacon Rick says. “It was very interesting, and I consulted without pay, but it unfortunately resulted in needless violence and the death of 76 Branch Davidians, including 25 children, two pregnant women, and David Koresh (aka Vernon Howell) himself.”

In the 1990s Deacon Rick served as executive director for several technology organizations. He was working as the chief information officer for a school in Philadelphia, when James Baker III, an alum, board member, and parent, invited him to serve as a chief technology officer for the U.S. Presidential Inaugural Committee & Presidential Transition Team for President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney in 2000 and 2001.

Given the Bush/Gore election issue and the brief time for presidential transition, the inauguration, and staffing, the new administration was cut by about 50%. “Since by then I had an IT background, they asked me to help out,” Deacon Rick says. “It was a wonderful feeling to watch a hotly contested election get resolved and a peaceful transition of power take place,” he adds. “It made me proud to be a citizen of our great country.”

Deacon Rick eventually took a technology job in Colorado, where he was formally accepted back into the Catholic Church after years of study and consideration. “I was told by a Jesuit priest, ‘you would make a pretty good deacon’ soon after I was formally accepted back into the Catholic Church,” he says. “With all the years I had served as a Protestant minister, it was encouraging to have a few men in my life feel that there was something ‘still left in the tank’ with regard to ministry or teaching.”

“I had to “unlearn” a lot of things in my 5-year formation process, but my preparation in the biblical languages and in biblical studies could find fruitfulness, which has been humbling,” he says.

From Our President

August 2021 has been noteworthy at CDU not only because of our 38th Anniversary on August 22nd, but in particular because of the press release issued by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education on August 3rd: Vatican Releases Rules for Online Learning for Ecclesiastical Universities.

We at CDU knew that the Congregation for Catholic Education was preparing recommendations for Pope Francis regarding the use of distance education in ecclesiastical universities. During a brief visit to Rome in late November 2017, I met with Archbishop Zani and his staff to share our expertise in online teaching pedagogies and student support. I am sure that the continuing developments in distance learning at the Vatican reflect the positive contributions of CDU.

Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Constitution Veritatus Gaudium (December 8, 2017), reflects his commitment to educating the peripheries including prisoners, migrants, the homeless, monks and contemplative nuns, and even busy bishops. This echoes CDU’s mission to serve the underserved and to educate the hearts of those who serve them. Those of us privileged to work at CDU for many years have marveled at our inclusive learning community and the students who find their way to us. The first graduate degree awarded by CDU, around the Jubilee Year 2000, went to a French woman in Paris who uses a wheelchair for mobility and has since earned her doctorate. CDU has awarded bachelor’s and master’s degrees to prison inmates through our correspondence curriculum and educated a number of contemplative nuns, brothers, and priests through our online MA degree program in Theology. Today we have a growing pastoral MA degree program for Catholic educators and directors of religious education that is offered completely online and in service to dioceses, especially the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Holy Spirit Institute.

In the words of Archbishop Zani, “There are many professionals who would like to acquire some theological, philosophical, or anthropological formation, and they are knocking on the doors of our institutions; we can’t ask them to attend like young students who are just beginning their academic journey.”

CDU is at home in the digital world. We congratulate our students and graduates who accepted the invitation to be pioneers with us in Catholic higher education. They reflect the power of CDU’s theological education that educates the human person with rigor and holistic formation, yet offers the freedom and flexibility that is essential today.

“Best for Vets” Recommends CDU

The Military Times “Best for Vets” list, the largest and most comprehensive ranking of colleges for military service members and veterans, helps them make important educational decisions. CDU made the list this year and is ranked
above The Catholic University of America and Mount St. Mary’s University in the
private, non-profit category. CDU is truly a great value!

Bishop Robert Barron Receives CDU’s Highest Honor

Bishop Robert Barron receives Founders Award at the 38th Gala. From left to right: CDU Chairman Stephen D. Pryor, President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount, Bishop Robert Barron, and Chancellor Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio.

The November 18th Gala offered supporters, graduates, faculty, staff, and students an opportunity to celebrate the university’s 38th year and to look toward its future. The Academic Convocation Mass, with principal celebrant University Chancellor Archbishop Timothy Broglio, included a graduation ceremony for the classes of 2020 and 2021.

The Gala program featured Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and founder of Word on Fire, who received the Founders Award, CDU’s highest honor, for his use of the internet and social media to spread Christ’s teachings throughout the world. His work dovetails with CDU’s own mission to communicate the mind and heart of the church in a digital world. Watch the Gala program and Mass videos!

We look forward to celebrating with you in 2022!

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