CDU Alumnus Ordained a Deacon Shares the Faith

MA (Theology) alumnus Deacon Gerard-Marie Anthony is an, author, apologist, and religion/bioethics teacher. He was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Arlington in January 2017 and also serves as a member of the diocese’s Black Catholic Ministries and Evangelization Board.

“I’m proud to be a CDU alumni!” says Deacon Anthony, who earned his CDU degree in 2009. “My degree in theology has helped me tremendously both as a professional and as a deacon.” Since then Deacon Anthony has earned his Virginia Catholic Education Teaching Certification through George Mason University, taught religion and bioethics at John Paul the Great High School, and has served as a professor for Christ the Teacher College. He is now taking a break from teaching to pursue a counseling degree at Divine Mercy University.

The flexibility of CDU and the quality of classes are what Deacon Anthony enjoyed most about CDU. “I wanted a good quality program that would allow me to grow, challenge me to know more about God, and allow me the flexibility to study and work,” he says.

“I use what I learned from my Master’s programs to teach theology at my parish assignments,” he says. “I have taught on topics ranging from Books of the Bible, the Mission of Jesus, to Humanae Vitae and the diaconate. The [CDU] class on the vocation of the laity helped me to see how to motivate the laity to take up their role of apostolate in the Church,” he says. “And of course, my theology degree helps me tremendously with homilies.”

Deacon Anthony has written many articles and books, including Who Am I: The Theology of the Body in Prayer and has contributed to Lay Witness, Immaculate Heart Messenger, and Spirituality Today magazines, and is a frequent contributor to Catechist and The Josephite Harvest magazines and blogs at CatholicMatch.com. He has also been a guest on EWTN radio shows on numerous occasions with appearances on Catholic Connection and the SonRise Morning Show and has appeared as a special guest on the EWTN television show The Church Universal.

He has worked with teens for over 15 years and frequently gives talks for people of all ages including teens at Confirmation retreats, adults seeking faith education, and young adults. “The thing that I enjoy the most about teaching is seeing how the knowledge that you impart can bring people closer to truth, thus improving their lives and helping the student to better him or herself,” he says. Because he thinks theologically, Deacon Anthony says, “I see in this the power of the Word, and it reminds me of the importance of being disciples of Christ and letting His Word guide our lives as a teacher helps guide a student.”

Deacon Anthony is a longtime member of the world’s largest lay apostolic organization, the Legion of Mary. He says, “The things that led me to pursue the diaconate were a love for helping people, that is, service, people telling me I should be a deacon, prayer, and the Legion of Mary, which promoted an active participation in the service of others under the guidance of the Church.”

Deacon Anthony runs an apologetics website at gmarieforG-O-D.com in his spare time.

ATS Grants Associate Membership to Graduate School of Theology

Catholic Distance University’s Graduate School of Theology was granted associate membership in the Association of Theological Schools at the accrediting agency’s biennial meeting in Denver, Colorado, on June 20th. Associate membership is the first step toward full accreditation by ATS.

Dr. Marianne Mount, President, and Sister Mary Brendon Zajac, Board member, attended the meeting. “CDU’s associate membership in the Association of Theological Schools is an incremental fulfillment of the University’s first strategic goal to pursue regional and programmatic accreditation,” says Dr. Mount, who has served the University in a variety of leadership positions since its founding in 1983.

“CDU’s Graduate School of Theology was welcomed as a colleague of more than 270 theological schools that includes most Catholic seminaries in the U.S. CDU is deeply grateful to our hard-working staff and committed Board of Trustees,” she adds. “This accomplishment is especially important for our graduate students and MA graduates.”

Pictured (l to r): Sister Mary Brendon Zajac, CDU Board Member; Dr. Marianne Mount, CDU President; Sister Mary McCormick, OSU Academic Dean; and Father Mark Latcovich, President-Rector, Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology, Diocese of Cleveland, gather to celebrate CDU’s associate membership.

THEO 503: The Catholic Theological Tradition

Offered in both the Fall I and II terms, THEO 503 is the first course taken in the MA (Theology) program. Perfect for students new to the study of theology, the course is taught by Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, a world-renowned commentator on Catholic issues known for his ability to make profound subjects understandable and relevant to everyday life. Explore the history of Christian theology from the perspective of faith seeking deeper understanding and trace its development from the end of the New Testament times to the Second Vatican Council. Critical moments in the history of theology and key issues debated in each epoch will be discussed, and students will be introduced to some of history’s most notable theologians and their varied ways of thinking about the things of God.

Dr. D’Ambrosio, also known as “Dr. Italy,” is a New York Times list best-selling author who frequently appears on a variety of TV and radio shows, including the “O’Reilly Factor” and “Geraldo Rivera at Large.”

To enroll in THEO 503, click here. Then, click the “New Student” button and fill out the information. Select “Undecided” for the major. If you have further questions, contact Admissions at admissions@cdu.edu or 1-888-254-4CDU ext. 700 to enroll today!

Diocese of Brooklyn Expands Partnership with CDU

From left: Dr. Peter Brown, academic dean, and Theodore Musco, secretary of the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

The Diocese of Brooklyn serves 1.5 million Catholics in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. Founded in 1853 to meet the needs of millions of recent Irish immigrants, today the diocese is home to a burgeoning, multicultural immigrant community that is largely Hispanic. To hand on the Faith, seven-thousand catechists serve young people in the Diocese’s 186 parishes and 84 Catholic academies/parish schools each week.

“Many of the catechists here in Brooklyn and Queens desire an opportunity to be further formed in the Faith,” says Theodore Musco, Secretary of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese. Yet, the Diocese faces a number of challenges in preparing adults to teach the Faith: time and energy, multiple commitments, lack of knowledge about programs offered to assist in passing on the Faith, lack of knowledge about financial assistance available, and language issues.

In June 2017, the Diocese established the Holy Spirit Institute for Service and Leadership to provide formation and education to those called to serve as missionary disciples. Catholic Distance University is one of the six institutes and universities approved as an educational provider. The Diocese has partnered with CDU since 2010 to provide Continuing Education to its catechists, catechetical leaders, and parish volunteers, so extending the relationship seemed to be a natural fit. “The great successes of the past gave me the confidence to move forward as we created the new Holy Spirit Institute for Service and Leadership,” Theodore says.

“CDU is authentically Catholic and has a mission of Catechetics and Evangelization. It also clearly understands the challenges of a large, urban, multicultural diocese,” Theodore says. “We are making headway in all these areas, thanks to collaborators like CDU,” he adds.

Through the Holy Spirit Institute, CDU offers a non-credit Diocesan Lay Leadership Certificate as well as an undergraduate-level Catechetical Coordinator’s Certificate to prepare lay leaders to serve the diocese. “The [undergraduate] certificate serves those who are already in catechetical leader positions but may not have the proper academic credentials,” Theodore explains. “Our goal is that all 200+ catechetical leaders be properly trained.”

CDU also works with the diocesan permanent deacons. Bishop DiMarzio is encouraging deacons to pursue degrees in theology at CDU.

To better serve the Diocese’s large Spanish-speaking population, its staff is working to convert six foundational courses into Spanish for the non-credit certificate. “We hope to have this finished by the end of 2018,” Ted says. “They can then be used by anyone at any time.”

Sister Mary Margaret Ann Schlather, CDU’s dean of Continuing Education, was instrumental in arranging the partnership in 2010. “Ted Musco brought such energy to our first meeting, that a partnership with Brooklyn was going to be a win-win situation for Brooklyn’s catechists and CDU’s Continuing Education Program. Starting with a dynamic three-week seminar, our partnership has developed into offering academic level-certificate and degree opportunities for those who want to ‘put out into the deep’ of the Catholic Faith to better serve others,” she says.

The Diocese of Brooklyn is shepherded by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, a champion of immigrants’ rights.
Masses are regularly held in 33 different languages across the Diocese, which has 26 ethnic ministries that promote cultural events and provide an opportunity for immigrants to belong to the larger community while preserving and sharing their uniqueness and traditions.

Bishop DiMarzio often uses the phrase “Put out into the deep.” “This is not merely a byword or an interesting phrase. Rather, this truly reminds us that if we are to make Christ for the world in this new millennium, we must truly go out of our way. We must try harder. We must experience our own conversion, so that we can be faithful to the Lord’s demand to put out into the deep,” he recently said at the Diocese’s Evangelization Congress in late April. CDU President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount and Sr. Schlather attended the event, which drew thousands. Its theme was The Joy of Encountering Christ – The Family’s Hope.

“We’ve come a long way in the last few years thanks to CDU,” Theodore reflects.

THEO 313. God, Man and the Universe

Offered in the Summer II Term, this 8-week course introduces the key ideas of Fundamental Theology. Join prolific author and speaker Christopher Padgett for an exploration of the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church as contained in the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed — God the Creator, original sin, and the fall of man. Topics to be covered through a theological lens include Revelation, the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, the theory of the development of doctrine, the Trinity, Divine Providence, the Angels, Satan, forms of atheism, the origin and fall of man, and the dignity of the human person. What sets Catholic thought apart from other worldviews?

Enroll today to find out! Course begins on June 4th.

Fast Track Your Way to an MA

CDU now offers qualified undergraduate students the opportunity to earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in less time and at less cost than usual! Our MA in Theology Accelerated Track allows exceptional students who are willing to challenge themselves to count up to 9 credit hours toward both degrees. Current students in our BA completion program may apply through the Admissions Office if they meet several requirements. Click here to see if you qualify!

Michael Ryan Grasinski

Following a year of study in the BA completion program, Michael Ryan Grasinski has earned his degree. “CDU exposed me to the treasure contained within the Tradition of the Church, and I can honestly say I learned more about my faith in the past year than at any point prior,” he says. “It really seemed to be the answer to my prayer. I never thought I’d be able to finish my BA, but by the grace of God I was able to do that.”

Michael worked in sales and account management when he began to sense that God was calling him to a different path. After a long period of discernment, he matriculated at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. “My year in the seminary was pivotal in my continued education and my overall formation; it laid the foundation for my life,” he says.

“After I spent a year in the seminary, I knew I wanted to finish my BA, but it seemed impossible due to practical reasons, mainly time, money, and location. Stumbling upon CDU was a true grace, and it provided the perfect opportunity to not only finish my undergraduate education, but to do so in the area of greatest interest to me,” he says. As Michael transitioned from Mount St. Mary’s to CDU, there was a continuity of intellectual formation that he says was invaluable in his spiritual growth.

“The value of an education is realized by the effort you put in to it, and for me personally, it was CDU that provided the framework and instruction necessary to make that effort fruitful,” he says.

Class discussions helped Michael learn to articulate what he knew, which was sometimes more challenging than he expected. “A true test of what one knows is how simply one can explain it,” he says. “This became a great exercise in learning how to synthesize extremely complex thoughts.”

“To study theology through the lens of the Church is to put on the mind of Christ,” Michael says. Like many other students, he finds that theology informs his thinking on a range of subjects, especially Christian vocation.

“Christian vocation is both a gift and a mission,” he explains. “We receive a vocational call from God to bring the light of Christ to others, and at the same time, this mission is a gift. As we read in the Gospel, we are called to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth; this means being transformed in the spirit of our mind and following Christ every day.”

He also clearly articulates the interplay of faith and reason. “Both faith and reason are necessary, and they in no way negate one another,” he explains. “By the grace of God, I have faith, and I now seek understanding. Faith is not merely blind acceptance; rather, through our God-given intellect, we plunge into the mysteries of God through the life of the intellect, thus further informing our faith.”

In an increasingly secular world, theology is also useful in responding to contemporary challenges. “We live in a world where man’s fundamental identity has become lost, and it is the practice of theology that can respond to this identity crisis,” Michael says. “Theology explains the deepest yearnings of man’s heart and thus is able to respond to the many challenges facing modern man. Gaudium et Spes explains this perfectly in that theology, as viewed through the lens of the Magisterium, can answer the many questions that trouble man today.”

In his free time, Michael enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife contemplating the beauty of God’s creation, immersing himself in the intellectual tradition of the Church, doing DIY projects, and learning how to be a better cook.

“I’m very grateful for my opportunity at CDU,” Michael says. “Coming from a business background, I can see the immense value a school like CDU will continue to have in a world that is quickly changing and lacking orthodox Catholic schools.”

Theresa Thomas

Theresa (Terri) Thomas recently earned her BA in Theology and plans to continue her studies in the MA program next year. Since 2008 Terri has served as the Adult Faith Formation Coordinator for Holy Trinity Church in Peachtree City, Georgia. “My relationship with God has deepened and my heart has been set on fire through my education at CDU,” Terri says.

Her work in the Church led her to want to learn more. Finding a university that was faithful to the teachings of the Church was important to Terri. “I had taken classes in the past from another Catholic university but was deeply disappointed because most of the professors were not faithful to the Magisterium. Negativity and criticism of the Church permeated many of the classes, and it was a very deflating, stressful and exhausting experience,” she explains. “CDU was a breath of fresh air for me.”

Because she works full time, Terri also needed a university that was fully online without a summer residency requirement. CDU’s asynchronous classes easily fit into her schedule. “The degree completion program was a wonderful and doable option for me because it allowed me to utilize all of the classes that I had already completed,” she says

The program has better prepared her to share her knowledge of the faith with others, she explains. “ I personally feel much more competent to teach classes on a variety of topics. I hope to foster a love and appreciation for the great gift of our Catholic Faith and to open people’s eyes as to how very practical it is for our everyday lives,” Terri says.

“[CDU] is definitely a means to mature in Christ. I am not the same person I was when I began this journey.”

“I have always felt a great responsibility to pass on the true teachings of the Church in the most charitable way possible because I firmly believed that the closer I come to the Truth the more fruitful it will be for the people I serve,” she explains.

CDU’s courses and theology curriculum led to a better view of the whole picture. “Before CDU, I would randomly select different topics to read and learn about based on my interest at the time. I was deeply touched and benefitted from that method of learning, but there were many ‘holes’ in my education/formation. I did not understand how everything I was learning fit together,” she says.

“CDU has given me a very balanced and complete education and a solid foundation to build on. It was a wonderful experience to learn how deeply connected every aspect of the Catholic Faith is from the seemingly smallest teaching—such as why we genuflect–to the grandest teaching, such as  the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls.”

Terri says that CDU has fostered in her a deeper appreciation for “all things Catholic.” “This education has given me a more comprehensive understanding of the teachings of the Church, which is very important when planning and selecting the classes, programs and events that will be offered in order to provide a well-rounded formation here at Holy Trinity.”
“My desire was to take my time earning my degree so that I could contemplate and pray about what I was learning in order to apply it in my job and in my life in the most fruitful way possible,” Terri says.  “As a result, I have grown as a person and this has had a profound effect on all of my relationships, especially in my family and in my role as the Adult Faith Coordinator,” she adds.

Terri particularly appreciated the faculty members who taught her. “The professors and course authors are well known in their areas of expertise, and I knew that I could trust them,” she says. “They consistently exhibited patience with our continual questions and wrong assumptions. They clearly articulated true Catholic teaching and gently corrected any false notions and distorted understandings of Church teaching.”

All in all, she says of the BA program, “It was a very uplifting experience and a wonderful example of how to evangelize and catechize!”

“Catholic Distance University far exceeded my hopes, dreams, and expectations,” Terri says. “ I was a little apprehensive when I began this journey. I was not sure if I had what it would take to complete my degree at this time in my life. The staff and professors were so helpful and encouraging while at the same time they challenged and stretched me in many wonderful ways. I am so thankful for that!”