Lilly Endowment Awards Initial Grant to CDU

The Lilly Endowment has launched an initiative to strengthen and sustain the capacities of theological schools to prepare and support pastoral leaders. The Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative is a multi-phase initiative open to ATS (Association of Theological Schools) accredited graduate schools including CDU.

The initial grant is non-competitive and awards schools $50,000 to research and conceptualize a proposal that will explore emerging challenges and opportunities, gain clarity about their mission in light of these challenges, assess the effectiveness of their educational strategies, and design and implement plans to make their institutions more effective and financially viable. Phase 2 grants are highly competitive and will award schools up to $1 million to fund initial implementation.

CDU has assembled a task force under the leadership of board trustee, Brian Corbin, Executive VP of Catholic Charities USA. The task force is exploring Pope Francis’ inspiring social encyclicals including (Laudato si, 2015, Fratteli tutti, 2020) and popular writings (Let us Dream, 2020) and his emphasis on the Gospel message of responding to the needs of the underserved, the poor, marginalized, and most vulnerable members of our communities.

Maronite Sister Receives Scholarship to Attend CDU

We welcome Sister Emily to CDU as our new Mission Diocese Scholar in the MA program. Highly recommended as a promising student by Bishop Mansour of the St. Maron of Brooklyn mission diocese, Sister Emily is a Maronite Servant of Christ the Light. Her mission is to serve the Church in the parish as a spiritual mother in imitation of Mary, radiating the Light of Christ through a life of contemplative prayer, asceticism, and apostolic mission to children, young adults, families, the sick, dying, and grieving. Maronite Sisters live in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and serve alongside the priest in pastoral ministry, reaching out with a maternal touch to the many needs of the parish family. Her superior, Sister Marla Marie Lucas, says, “Sister Emily’s CDU scholarship is a Godsend to her formation and fulfilling our mission.”

The mission dioceses scholarship program is part of CDU’s commitment to serve our brothers and sisters at the peripheries. As a non-profit, CDU could not offer transformational scholarships to those who serve the Church without your support. We are grateful to The Koch Foundation and our generous private donors who support this program.

Paul Schott Stevens Appointed to Board of Trustees

Join us in welcoming Paul Schott Stevens, who was appointed to the Board of Trustees in March. He brings many years of strategic leadership, financial expertise, and commitment to our Faith to our esteemed Board of Trustees and will be an asset as CDU embarks on its new strategic plan. He retired in 2020 after more than 16 years as president and CEO of the Investment Company Institute (ICI), the global association of regulated funds whose members manage some $35 trillion on behalf of more than 100 million shareholders. During this time, he also served as a director of ICI Mutual Insurance Co. and of the ICI Education Foundation. From 2014-2017, he was chairman of the International Investment Funds Association. Stevens was general counsel of ICI from 1993-1997.

Outside of ICI, Stevens has had a varied career in private law practice as corporate counsel and in government service. He was a leader in the financial services practice of Dechert LLP, an international law firm, and senior vice president and chief counsel for mutual funds and international enterprise at Charles Schwab & Co. He was Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to President Ronald Reagan, who appointed him as the first Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (NSC) and subsequently as head of the NSC’s policy and support staff. At the conclusion of his government service, Stevens received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, DoD’s highest civilian decoration.

Over the course of his career, Stevens has been committed to a wide range of professional, church, cultural, and community activities. He chaired the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security. He was resident in Japan in 1990 as a US-Japan Leadership Fellow. He has served on the boards of the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and of the community foundation ACT for Alexandria. He is a long-time member of the Life Guard Society of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. For 11 years he was a member of the Finance Council of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington and served as chair of the Council’s investment committee. Currently he is a trustee of Catholic Investment Services; a member of the Finance & Investment Committee of the Federal Association of the Order of Malta; a director of the Eisenhower Foundation; and a member of the national advisory board of his alma mater, Jesuit High School of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Stevens received a B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. Stevens and his wife Joyce have been married for more than 40 years. They have four sons and live in Alexandria, Virginia.

Systematic Theologian Joins Faculty

We are excited to welcome Martin X. Moleski, S.J., Ph.D., to the faculty. Dr. Moleski, a Jesuit priest, educator, and author, holds a Ph.D. in Theology from The Catholic University of America. He taught for 30 years at Le Moyne College in Syracuse and Canisius College, winning tenure and promotion to full professor. He currently works as an assistant to the editors of Biblica and Orientalia at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.

He has authored three books: Personal Catholicism, Michael Polanyi (with William T. Scott), and Judging Religion Justly. He was a weekly host of “Calling All Catholics,” a one-hour broadcast on affiliates of The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio, for seven years.

Dr. Moleski specializes in Catholic Systematic Theology and World Religions. In addition to the Ph.D., his extensive education includes a B.A. in English from Boston College (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), an MA in Philosophy from Fordham University, and an M.Div. and S.T.B. from Regis College, University of Toronto. He recently taught PHIL 340 See for Yourself: An Introduction to Epistemology.

Summer Apologetics Seminar Answers Crucial Questions

Why does the Church still matter today? Why are the sacraments important? Why go to Mass? Many people today consider themselves to be “spiritual” but not “religious.” Surveys show that over half of American adults do not regularly attend church, and only 20% of Catholics born after 1970 attend Mass. Surprisingly, about two-thirds of those who do not attend church believe that God exists and consider themselves to be Christian, yet they see little value in attending Mass. This likely includes some of your own family and friends. Therefore, the need to equip Catholics to credibly, convincingly, and compellingly explain and share why we need the Church, the sacraments, and the Mass has never been greater.

Why Do We Need the Church?, offered July 19th to Aug. 9th, 2021, will help us respond to this growing trend by exploring key reasons why active involvement in the life of the Church, especially the Mass, is Christ’s will for his followers. Register today. 

New Theology Courses for Fall!

THEO 419-619 Theology of Aquinas

This new Theology of Aquinas course, instructed by Father Bevil Bramwell OMI, PhD, is a basic introduction to the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas. By looking at the backgrounds of some of the concepts that he uses along with selected articles from the Summa Theologica, his most well-known work, the student will be able to glimpse how Aquinas developed the explanations and arguments in his thought. The course includes biographical material as well as the historical material that will help make the early medieval period more comprehensible.

HUM 260 THEO 290-590 – Theology of Sacred Architecture

CDU’s new Theology of Sacred Architecture course is an introduction to the history, theology, and symbolism of Catholic sacred architecture that focuses on how the development of Catholic sacred architecture and theology has affected the shape, configuration, and use of the Catholic church throughout various architectural styles and eras. It will follow this development from Pagan and Old Testament ideas of sacred architecture throughout the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Counter-Reformation, and Vatican II. The course will give an overview of the various declarations of the Church regarding the construction and symbolism of the church edifice. Undergraduates will be able to apply it towards either their humanities requirements or theology electives. Graduates will be able to apply the course towards their theology electives.

The course is taught by Erik Bootsma, who was trained in the classical liberal arts at Thomas Aquinas College’s great books program. He became interested in the philosophy of architecture and aesthetics. This philosophy was the foundation upon which he completed his architectural education with a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame.

BA Grad Helps Others Find Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

Gian Parham (BA in Theology, 2021) of Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize, teaches adults and youth in two Catholic high schools and also serves as coordinator of the national Theology of the Body (TOB) teachers’ training program.

Belizean by birth, Gian says that Belize is a very unique country. As the only English-speaking country in Central America, it is also considered a “melting pot of cultures.” Belize also has a high teen pregnancy rate.

Gian has been married for 24 years and is blessed with two beautiful children. “We are also living the joys of being grandparents,” he says. His favorite pastime, when not with the family or teaching, is fishing in the Caribbean Sea, “the perfect place to unwind and contemplate the mysteries of life and God.”

During the day, Gian teaches English Literature and TOB to seniors at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School. At night, he teaches adults Computer Science and TOB at Saint Ignatius High School Evening Division.

For me, teaching is not a job. It is a passion, a vocation, something I am called to do,” Gian says, adding that he is truly blessed to share his God-given gifts with both the teens and adult students he has come to love. “The joy that comes from interacting with the young as they search for what is true, good, and beautiful is deeply moving.”

“Many of the teenagers I work with are living destitute lives, and having made my own journey through the fire, I am humbled that God would use me as a witness and beacon of hope that ‘with him all things are possible.’” The adult students are not that different from the teens, he says, except that they come with a greater sense of the human experience. “At the end of many class sessions, the reaction is always, ‘Why didn’t we hear of this before?’” he says.

As national coordinator of the TOB teachers’ training program, Gian promotes the TOB program in all of Belize’s Catholic Schools. He has conducted workshops with all administrators and principals about the need for the TOB and conducts ongoing training sessions with school faculty and staff. TOB clubs are now being established at Belizean high schools that will be led by trained youth leaders as well. “I am grateful to be, as St. Theresa of Calcutta puts it, ‘but a pencil in the hand of God,’” Gian says.

“I have always believed and am convinced that the TOB, being rooted deeply in Sacred Scripture, is the antidote for the broken world we live in. I really became passionate about the TOB because of my own daughter, who became a teen mom and was abandoned by the father of her child,” he says. This situation is not unusual for many families in Belize, he explains. He, too, was born to a teen mom in a similar situation.

“I decided that there MUST be a better way, and that the cycle of broken relationships must come to an end. TOB has been the chain-breaker, the game-changer for many young girls and boys in my community,” he says.

“Girls are learning that they are valuable and worth waiting for. They have learned they deserve respect and true, authentic, sacrificial love because of their God-given dignity. The young men, on the other hand, are realizing that the image of manhood society is illustrating is a false one. They are learning that true men must grow in virtue in order to die to self and protect the women around them, first and foremost from themselves.  Young men are being challenged to grow in responsibility and to love in an authentic way.” He points out that TOB is not just helping to reduce teenage pregnancies in Belize, but it is also helping to lower the abortion rate.

“For years, TOB was reserved for seniors only at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School, but realizing the transformative effects of the TOB, we decided to launch it at all levels, across the board,” Gian says. “The effects on students are astounding. Last year our administration proudly reported that there were zero cases of toxic relationships, young girls eloping, and teen pregnancy cases were almost nonexistent. There was also a notable decrease in major disciplinary issues. Although there are other factors that contributed to these results, I am convinced that TOB was surely one of them,” Gian says. “Many of the adults told me that the teachings of the TOB had challenged them to change their way of life. There are so many stories I could tell of how the TOB has tremendously changed the lives of both the teens and adults I am privileged to work with.”

Gian decided to pursue a BA in Theology at CDU when he was required by the Ministry of Education to further his studies for professional development. He could have continued his education in Computer Science but decided that he only wanted to study a subject that would benefit his soul. “In my search, I came across CDU and was surprised at the cost of the program, which was significantly lower than most other universities,” he says.

“But what really hooked me, apart from a really solid Catholic curriculum, was the faculty line up,” Gian says. “The old cliché, ‘you come for the price but stay for the service’ was exactly the case for me. The faculty was ‘unapologetically Catholic.’” The fact that many had studied at Franciscan University of Steubenville at some point in their educational journeys was a plus for Gian, who had wanted to attend Franciscan but could not afford the tuition.

“I could not even afford CDU, but God is good, and with Him all things are possible,” Gian says. “There are many I wish to thank for believing in me and for finding it in their hearts to invest in my education at CDU, which has cracked open for me the rich deposit of faith that I can now share with confidence with the longing hearts of my students.”

Gian enjoyed the edifying and deep discussions at CDU through which great friendships flourished. “Being able to share, not just on the weekly topic, but on my Belizean religious culture and traditions, was wonderful,” Gian says. At the start of new classes, he enjoyed reconnecting with those from previous classes. He is especially grateful to the professors for their empathy.

“I am proud to be named among the alumni of CDU! Gaudium de Veritate!” he says.

BA Grad Sees Hand of God in His Path

Francis Cabildo (BA in Theology, ’21) works as an assistant director of campus ministry for Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, and is also a singer-songwriter. He and his wife Nicole are raising five young boys.

“I was one of those students who took a long break in completing my degree,” Francis says.  “First, I was not sure what I wanted to study.  My career choice is not one that you hear about in mainstream college career choices. Looking back, I can see the hand of God guiding me each step of the way.”

“My education from CDU gave me confidence as well as valuable knowledge that has helped me in my professional life.  I have also gained critical thinking skills, organizational skills, and increased my ability to look at things through a worldview centered on Jesus and his Church,” Francis says.

As assistant campus minister, Francis plans, prepares, and facilitates retreats for students and trains volunteers and student leaders in how to run small groups, present talks, and work as a team. He also plans and leads music at Masses and other liturgies. Francis enjoys working with students, especially those who are furthest away from the Lord.  “I love to see them realize the love of God and for them to begin a relationship with Jesus and the Church,” he says.  He also enjoys helping volunteers and student leaders discover a love for ministry and leading others to Christ and working with students’ parents–especially when they encounter Jesus in real ways through their students returning from retreat.

One of the biggest struggles Francis finds in working with students is the lack of evangelization.  Though students may know how to answer a test question about God or the Church, they may not have not had a real encounter with God or know Jesus, he explains.

Francis has been in music ministry for close to 28 years.  He started as a volunteer singing at his local parish.  “I quickly discovered that I have a calling to help others pray through music,” he says. “I am passionate about helping the people of God find their voice, and it gives me great joy knowing that the gifts God has given me are helping to build the kingdom and give glory to God.”

His youth minister in high school played guitar and inspired him to learn. Francis bought his first guitar when he was 18 years old after saving up tips from busing tables and taught himself to play. He served on National Evangelization Team Ministries from 1994 to 1995, which challenges young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church. Every August, 175 young Catholics aged 18-28 travel across the U.S. for nine months to share the Gospel with young people and their families. “That is when I really heard the calling to be a worship leader/musician,” he says. After NET, he served at his local parish, Sacred Heart in Rancho Cucamonga, California, as a youth leader and a liturgical musician and helped with Masses, Bible studies, prayer meetings, and retreats.

Francis’ family is an integral part of all that he does, and they help him to connect with God in many ways.  “Being a husband reminds me that I have to die to myself daily and that I am first to serve and to die for my bride just as Christ died for his bride,” he says.  “My children are gifts and blessings.  They help me to grow in love and patience, and they help me practice forgiveness and mercy.”

“I chose CDU because it gave me flexibility and options,” he says.  “I am raising a young family, and with my work in ministry, my schedule did not allow me to take courses with a normal schedule.  CDU gave me the opportunity to complete my degree and still be present to my family and those that I serve in ministry at the high school.”

Join Us for the FREE Theology of the Body Virtual Conference

CDU is co-sponsoring the 2021 Theology of the Body Virtual Conference being held from April 30 to May 2 by the Theology of the Body Institute. We invite you to register for the free conference, which will explore the great depths and riches of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body teachings and how they can transform your life.

Last year, more than 77,000 men and women from 160 countries registered for the inaugural TOBVC, making it the largest Catholic conference in 2020! The 2021 three-day conference will feature more than 80 speakers and artists who will inspire you through testimonies, catechesis, music, and more.

Speakers will include CDU’s own Professor Chris Padgett, Christopher West, Scott Hahn, Fr. Donald Calloway, Jason Evert, Jackie Francois, Dr. Edward Sri, Fr. Jacques Philippe, Sr. Bethany Madonna, and many more!

Register for the Free Virtual Conference here:

CDU Partners with Magis Institute

CDU serves as a co-credentialer of the Magis Institute’s Master Teacher Certification in Contemporary Apologetics. The curriculum prepares middle and high school teachers and catechists to teach students  some of the main areas of the faith and science dialogue that will help students maintain their faith and  use it to achieve higher levels of purpose in life and bring transcendent meaning to relationships and  suffering.  For more information, click here.

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