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.”

Lifelong Religious Educator Honored as Outstanding Graduate

Cynthia M. Stalcup of Ashburn, Virginia, has been selected as the Outstanding Graduate of 2020. Cindy graduated summa cum laude after completing the MA in Theology and Educational Ministry degree program with a 4.1 GPA. Cindy has worked as a religious educator, either as a volunteer or professionally, since her early teen years.  Her enthusiasm for this field eventually led her to pursue an advanced degree at CDU.

The flexibility of asynchronous online education coupled with CDU’s academically accomplished faculty presented the opportunity to achieve this goal despite a busy family life, a part-time job, and multiple volunteer positions.

As a participant in CDU’s pilot practicum program, a requirement for the degree, she developed a four-part program to enhance an established grade-level curriculum.  She continues to use this learning experience to expand her own classroom instruction in terms of content, delivery, and technological methodology.

“My experience at CDU has provided rich rewards in the catechetical classroom.  Not only have the courses expanded my knowledge of the faith, but my online learning experience has encouraged me to re-formulate my instructional methods,” Cindy says.

Cindy will be honored by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, CDU’s accreditor, which honors an outstanding graduate each year from its member institutions.

 

Stephen D. Pryor Elected Chairman of the Board

At the January meeting of the CDU Board of Trustees, Stephen D. Pryor was elected to serve as chairman of the Board of Trustees effective March 15, 2021. He succeeds Dr. Charles R. Wasaff, who has been a CDU trustee since 2012 and chairman since October 2017.

“CDU has a life-changing impact on its students in terms of the growth of faith and service to the Church. We are excited about the opportunities ahead to extend the University’s reach and share its expertise as a pioneer in Catholic distance education,” said Mr. Pryor.

President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount said, “I am thrilled to welcome Stephen Pryor as our new Board Chair effective March 15, 2021. CDU has been blessed with extraordinary board leadership in the work of retiring Board Chair Dr. Charles Wasaff. That tradition will continue with Stephen Pryor.”

“Steve brings remarkable corporate success with a deep commitment to the Catholic Church and the mission of Catholic Distance University. He is a strategic thinker with great insights about current opportunities and CDU’s strength as the only and exclusively online Catholic university whose expertise in theological education impacts all areas of knowledge. I am privileged to work with him,” she continued.

A highly accomplished business executive with a long history of service to the Church and Catholic organizations, Mr. Pryor brings a wealth of experience and visionary leadership to the role of chairman. He retired as president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company in 2015 after more than 43 years of ExxonMobil service. Before his appointment in 2008 as president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, he was president of ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Company and president of ExxonMobil Lubricants and Specialties Company. He also served as vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation from 2004 until his retirement.

Before the merger of Exxon and Mobil in 1999, Mr. Pryor was executive vice president of Mobil International Marketing and Refining and president of Mobil Asia Pacific. He joined Mobil Corporation in 1971 in the U.S. Marketing Division and went on to lead marketing / refining and chemical business units in Cyprus, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Mr. Pryor is a trustee emeritus of Lafayette College and former vice chair of the board. He is a director and retiring board chair of The Immokalee Foundation and a director of the Foundation for Government Accountability. He earned a BA in Biology from Lafayette College and an MBA from Harvard University.

With CDU’s Graduate School of Theology having received accreditation from The Association of Theological Schools in 2020, CDU is poised for growth in both its student body and educational offerings.  The university has also just embarked on a newly adopted strategic plan. The Board and staff look forward to Mr. Pryor’s service to the university as Board chair. He was first elected to the Board of Trustees in October 2017.

Professor Bonagura Publishes Second Book

Undergraduate Theology professor David Bonagura, Jr., has published a new book: Staying with the Catholic Church: Trusting God’s Plan of Salvation, which explains the mystery of the Church and why we need her to encounter Christ in light of contemporary challenges. The book can be ordered on Amazon.

Professor Bonagura, who also teaches Theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., was inspired to write the book in 2018, after the revelation of a new wave of scandals within the Church hierarchy. “So many Catholics were angry, confused, and questioning how such things could happen in God’s Church,” he says. “These reactions are understandable–I shared them. But, if the Church is what we know in faith that she is–the Body of Christ, the temporal extension of the Incarnation–then there has to be more to her than the sins of her members.”

“I set out to explain what the Church is, why Christ founded her, and what her mission is in the hope that Catholics would understand that the Church is a great mystery, a collection of sinners ministering divine healing to sinners, that is worthy not only of our continued support, but our faithful love,” Professor Bonagura says.

People are turning away from the Church in increasing numbers today. “Cascading waves of secularism and radical individualism have caused people to move away from organized religions. Added to this are the Church scandals and lack of understanding the essential truths of our faith,” Professor Bonagura says. “The way to return Catholics to the Church is the same way in which people have been brought into her for centuries, all across the globe: bold proclamation that Christ and His Church are necessary for our salvation, coupled with a tireless witness of Christ-inspired charity toward other people. Scandal draws people away from the Church. Holiness attracts them. The degree to which we live out our baptismal call to holiness will predict how successful we are in bringing people back into the Church.”

Professor Bonagura published the highly rated Steadfast in Faith: Catholicism and the Challenges of Secularism in 2019, which is also available on Amazon.

 

Faculty Member Publishes Book on Catholic Priesthood

Professor Rev. Bevil Bramwell, OMI, has published a new graduate textbook on the philosophical and theological aspects of the priesthood. The bishops and their assistants, the priests, participate to different degrees in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. This book focuses more on the priest, exploring the rich and profound theological background of the priesthood as well as the shattering distraction of scandal. The liturgy, spirituality, the intellectual life, and even the life of Saint John Vianney, the Patron of Pastors, are also covered. The Catholic Priesthood: A 360 Degree View can be purchased on Amazon.com.

MA Grad Reflects on Growth in Knowledge and Faith

In 2017, I was living with my husband and four children in Hawaii where the Army had sent us. While my youngest son was only two years old at the time, I started thinking about what kind of job I wanted to have when he would start Kindergarten. In what I can only describe as a “Holy Spirit moment,” I realized with great clarity that I should shift gears away from my background in business administration towards working in Religious Education. This would build on my previous experience as a corporate trainer and my volunteer experience at several military chapels where I had been active as a Catechist and as a leader in women’s ministries. I felt, and still feel, that Religious Education is the perfect sweet spot where I can use my skills and talents for something that brings me joy, helps others, and serves God.

That summer, the previous Catholic Religious Education Coordinator (CREC) at the military chapel in Hawaii moved, and her position became open. The way the military works, I had to make a bid for my contract and was fortunate enough to be selected. The Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) requires that all DREs and CRECs obtain a basic certificate in Catechesis, but I chose to go for a graduate certificate. Ever since I started learning about my faith on an adult level during my pre-cana religious education, I have loved growing in knowledge and being challenged to grow in faith.

I researched different Catholic universities but chose CDU because the whole program was designed to be exclusively online, a major benefit for military families who move often and have crazy schedules, because of its existing partnership with the AMS, and because of the course descriptions. The application process was easy, and very soon I started my first course, THEO 503: The Catholic Theological Tradition, with Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio. I realized that I had found a “home,” and because I enjoyed studying theology so much, I applied to switch from a graduate certificate to the MA in Theology and Educational Ministry degree program.

During my different classes, I found several classmates who were connected to the military including some on active duty joining from downrange. It helped me to feel understood when I shared about my work. Military chapels are unique in that most of the time, different Christian denominations and even other religions share buildings and resources. My studies helped me tremendously by letting me understand what the other denominations’ viewpoints were and how to defend the Catholic position firmly but charitably. THEO 640: Presenting the Faith in the Modern World was one of my most impactful courses in this regard. Another challenge in the military community is that the soldiers and families come from all of the different corners of our immensely diverse Catholic faith. In addition, frequent moves and the stressful life of training and deployments make it harder to build community and to form a team of well-trained Catechists. What helped me be successful was the emphasis on kerygmatic Catechesis and the conversion of the baptized that I took away from my courses SPIR 501: Applied Catholic Spirituality and RELED 560: Principles of Catholic Education.

Now that my husband has retired from the military and we moved back to his hometown, I work at the civilian parish of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Indianapolis, IN. When I interviewed for the position, the Director of Religious Education of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis told me how highly he thinks of CDU. The main difference from my previous job is that I am now also working with the associated Catholic elementary school. I love that my children for the first time are able to attend a Catholic school and that I can assist in integrating faith formation with elementary education for them, as well as develop a strategy for life-long faith formation for all members of the parish.

CDU has certainly prepared me by providing me the necessary theological knowledge and practical skills to be a Director of Religious Education, but what I appreciated the most is that the school and faculty went beyond that and helped me to not only grow in knowledge but in my personal faith as well. While I am still far away from sainthood, I am a better disciple now than before I attended CDU.—Ute Eble, MA in Theology and Educational Ministry (2020) 

 

BA Program Admissions Requirements Streamlined

Over the past 20 years, more than 31 million students have enrolled in college and left without receiving a degree or certificate, according to the National Student Clearinghouse. To provide greater opportunity to those seeking to complete a Bachelor’s degree at a faithful Catholic college, Catholic Distance University has reduced the number of credits required to enter its fully online BA in Theology degree completion program from 48 to just 18.  To allow students more time to earn their credits, the time limit for completing the program has been extended from 4 to 6 years.

High Retention and Completion Rates

CDU’s BA in Theology degree completion program is known for its high retention rate, which for the 2019–2020 terms is 86.8%. CDU’s retention rates are far above the norm for online universities, many of which struggle to retain students. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average retention rate among first-time, full-time students at online colleges is 55 percent and the average retention rate among first-time, part-time students is just 39 percent.  By choosing CDU, students have a very high expectation of successfully completing the BA program.

“[Coming to CDU] was a great decision,” says Adam Beerling, who earned a BA degree in Theology and then went on to complete an MA degree in Theology at CDU. “I had all of these college credits and no degree, and the BA in Theology was the answer I was searching for. And for the first time in my life, my education was now something I could be passionate about.”

Program Prepares Students for Wide Range of Careers

The BA in Theology degree completion curriculum helps to develop critical thinking skills that employers value highly. Humanistic skills, such as emotional intelligence, ethics, and communication, are also developed through the program. Such skills are applicable to a wide range of careers and are highly regarded in today’s workplace.

According to a 2019 report by The College Board, Individuals with bachelor’s degrees will earn $400,000 more in their lifetimes than those with just a high school diploma. College-educated workers are more likely to work for employers that offer health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits as well.

Greater Access to Higher Education for Working Adults

CDU is committed to providing greater access to higher education through its affordable, flexible fully online programs that were designed around the needs of working adults. The university, which was founded in 1983, is featured in the Cardinal Newman Society College Guide, which was designed to help Catholic families learn about faithful Catholic colleges and navigate the college search process.

With a student population that tends to be older than the traditional college student population, many CDU students have work, family, and volunteer responsibilities that make attending a campus-based program with fixed class times inconvenient or impossible. CDU’s Bachelor’s degree completion program allows them the flexibility to earn credits at a faster or slower pace according to their needs through classes that are asynchronous.

CDU Is Transfer-Credit Friendly and Offers Flexibility

CDU will accept up to 81 transfer credits toward the BA degree, and previous theology credits are not required. Students may have earned their credits at college or through the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, DANTES, or CLEP programs. Up to 30 such credits can be applied to the BA degree completion program.

Students who wish to enter the degree completion program but have fewer than 18 credits can enroll in undergraduate courses at CDU prior to program acceptance to earn the required credits. The university also offers an AA degree program in Liberal Arts with a Concentration in Catholic Studies, and credits earned in that program can be applied to the BA degree program.

Five academic terms are offered throughout the year, and most classes are just 8 weeks long, making it possible to earn the BA degree in four years from a faithful Catholic university that is committed to transmitting the true teachings of the Catholic Church.

Online Campus Fosters Community and Student Success

CDU’s robust Catholic community is fostered through a vibrant Student Life Center that is the online equivalent of a campus-based student union. In the SLC, students have access to a faculty advisor, a student life director who is a graduate of the MA in Theology degree program, and a student life coordinator who is a graduate of the AA degree program. Students engage in conversation with other students and the staff in the café and in a theological conversation area and pray together and enjoy fellowship in the chapel. In the SLC, they can also ask questions of a faculty advisor and access resources that promote student success.

Recently Ordained Deacon in Australia Earns MA Degree

Order of Malta member Deacon Adam Walk of Brisbane, Australia, recently completed his MA in Theology at CDU to meet the academic requirements for becoming a deacon in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. He is also a financial economist with a PhD from Griffith University with a busy career that involves lots of travel.

Ordained in November 2019, he is nearing the end of his first year of service. “Being in the midst of a pandemic, it has been a very strange first year of ministry as a deacon,” Deacon Walk says.  At this time last year, he wasn’t expecting to be assisting at online Masses without an assembly. His ministry is quite broad. He is a part-time police chaplain, he and his wife do pre-marriage and newly married ministry together, he is involved in governance roles within the Archdiocese that use his professional skills, and he serves at the parish where he is appointed assisting at Mass, as RCIA instructor, and as a member of the Pastoral Council.

When asked what he enjoyed most about CDU, Deacon Walk says, “There are several aspects. The first—and this might sound like a strange answer when talking about an online institution—is community. I have never met a single one of my professors or fellow students in person, but I can say that I felt like I was part of a community that is both faithfully Catholic and eager to learn.”

“This was encouraged by the professors—the second great aspect of CDU—who were passionate about their subject matter and committed to the learning experience of their students,” he continues. “As someone who has studied most of his adult life in one form or another—face-to-face and online, undergraduate to doctoral level—I can say that I have never had a better collection of teachers than I had at CDU.”

Deacon Walk appreciated the flexibility as well, which allowed him to fit in his study commitments around his professional work and travel schedule. “It was great to have so many teaching periods, because it allowed me to progress quicker than I otherwise could have,” he says. “I completed PHIL 508 Philosophy for Theology in five cities: Brisbane, Melbourne, London, Oxford, and Rome, with a lot of time on planes for reading!” he adds.

Deacon Walk was in his 30s when he entered the Church in the Easter season of 2006, receiving the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and first Holy Communion. “From then I was quite intentional about formation because I felt I had a lot to learn,” he says. As he learned more about the Church, he became aware of the diaconate and the fact that it was open to married men.

In 2014, a Texan friend suggested he consider the diaconate. He prayed about it, discussed it with his wife, to whom he has now been married for 21 years, and decided to apply to the program in his hometown of Brisbane. He was accepted in 2015 and began searching for a theology degree program to fulfil the academic requirements for becoming a deacon. “I was on the lookout for a good quality theology program that was flexible enough to balance with my professional life,” Deacon Walk says. He began studying through a distance education provider in Australia but found that it was less a curriculum and more a selection of courses.

In late 2015, Deacon Walk learned about CDU when a podcast of The Catholic Café—which is a ministry of the Order of Malta hosted by Deacon Jeff Drzycimski of the Diocese of Memphis—popped up on his iPhone featuring CDU President Dr. Marianne Mount. “In the podcast, Dr. Mount refers to an Ordinariate priest from Brisbane – my home town – who had completed CDU’s MA. In any event, Dr. Mount was very convincing, and it was clear from the example she gave that I could study from here,” Deacon Walk says. “Once I learned that CDU is recommended by the Newman Guide, my decision was made.” Campion College—a Catholic liberal arts college based in Sydney of which Deacon Walk is a trustee—is also listed in the Newman Guide.

His discernment continued throughout the formation process. “I knew I was in the hands of the Church in terms of whether I would be ordained, so I just tried to do my bit and see where it led,” he says. “I was ordained on the Feast of St. Andrew last year, around six months prior to completing the MA at CDU.”

“I couldn’t imagine trying to fulfil my responsibilities as a deacon without the academic formation I received at CDU,” Deacon Walk says. He was attracted to the CDU program partly it culminated in a comprehensive exam, which isn’t common at universities in Australia. “I thought preparing for a comprehensive exam would force me to synthesize content from a range of subjects. So, in a way, it was the fear of having to one day give a homily that drew me to CDU,” he adds.

Deacon Walk’s professional work is divided between being an investment advisor to wealthy clients and small institutions, such as foundations, and fulfilling governance roles for a range of organizations. Earlier in his career, Deacon Walk taught economics and finance mostly to graduate students at several universities and published research in his field. He is an adjunct faculty member with the business school of the University of Notre Dame Australia currently, though his responsibilities in service to the Church preclude him from pursuing research with the same focus as a full-time academic.

“In my professional work, I am in a position of trust where I am required to act in the best interests of others, be they clients or, say, the beneficiaries of the pension fund of which I am a trustee director,” Deacon Walk says. “In this sense, there are some similarities with being a deacon, which places me in a position of trust where I am called to serve others.”

Theological Librarian Publishes Article about Online Library

Theological Librarian Sister Rebecca Abel recently published an article, “Online Library at Catholic Distance University,” in Theological Librarianship, an open access journal for peer reviewed articles as well as essays and reviews on subjects at the intersection of librarianship and religious and theological studies that potentially impact libraries.

Sister Rebecca has been CDU’s theological librarian since 2015. Originally from Owensboro, Kentucky, she is a Sister of St. Benedict based in Ferdinand, Indiana. Her order lives faithfully the 1,500-year-old tradition of Benedictine life: they seek God together, pray daily, and share their lives and ministries with others. Sister Rebecca served as librarian of the North American College in Rome, Italy, for 17 years after 25 years in the SE Dubois County Public Schools as librarian and director of Media Services. She earned her B.S. in Education from St. Benedict College and an M.L.S. from Ball State University.

Under Sister Rebecca’s direction, the CDU online library has significantly grown its collection to provide ample online resources and e-books. In addition to maintaining the online library, Sister Rebecca assists students and faculty with research, locating resources, and provides guidance to students in writing. Organized around nine modules, the Canvas LMS-based library has seen usage grow significantly with her efforts to increase its holdings and make it more user friendly.

Students and faculty can browse the library by accessing an Index page, links to websites offering open access resources are included, and e-books can be checked out through the ATLA E-Book Lending Program. Links to open access and public domain e-books are also provided. A module on “Research and Writing” provides a link to the online Chicago Manual of Style and various writing guides. Specific term paper and citation guidelines required by the CDU faculty are included as well. Resources are easily accessible to students and faculty 24/7. For scholarly theological journal articles, students can access the EBSCO/ATLA databases. Additional databases and e-books are added yearly so that students have access to the materials needed for research and study.
Read Sister Rebecca’s article here: https://serials.atla.com/theolib/article/view/1931/2202.

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