Join Us for a Free Open House Webinar!

Join us for an Open House Webinar on Tuesday, May 3rd, from 6-7 pm ET to learn more about CDU’s online degree and certificate programs. You’ll meet dean Dr. Peter Brown, professors Dr. Carole Brown and Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, Student Life director Mary McKay, and librarian Stephanie Garrett. You’ll also have a chance to ask questions during a live Q&A session and be entered in a raffle to win free CDU gear and a book written by one of our professors! Join us to learn more about what sets CDU apart from other online universities.

Join us for a Free, Live Open House on May 3rd!

Are you looking for a theology program that is 100% faithful to the Church, 100% online and easily fits into your busy schedule? Then sign up for our Online Open House being held Tuesday, May 3, at 6 p.m. (EDT).

This event will introduce you to our different theology degree and certificate programs so you can choose the right program for you.

You’ll also get:

  • A chance to hear from our admissions director, dean, director of student life, and professors about what sets CDU apart from other online universities.
  • An overview of several fascinating courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels that will introduce you to the
    study of theology.
  • Information on transferring credits, ensuring you a smooth transition into our program, and the opportunity to finally finish your undergraduate
  • An overview of the online Student Life Center, where you’ll obtain resources to help you successfully complete your degree.
  • A Q&A session with our dean, professors, and staff.

Be sure to stick around until the end of the webinar, where you’ll have a chance to win free CDU gear and books by our professors!

The event will last about 40-50 minutes, and it’s completely free. Once you’re through, you’ll be well-positioned for an easy transition into one of our online theology degree programs.

Register Now!

Study Philosophy This Summer with Dr. Shaw

What does it mean to live a moral life? How is the wisdom of Aristotle and Aquinas still relevant today? Learn the answer to these questions and many more by taking PHIL 311 Ethics, offered in the summer 2022 term. This engaging course is taught by popular professor Dr. Elizabeth Shaw. Students in the BA in Theology degree completion program can take PHIL 311 to fulfill three of the 12 required general education credits in Philosophy.

PHIL 311 explores moral philosophy and concepts of the good as applied to human action. Students will read the primary texts of philosophical masters and study modern challenges to the perennial tradition of realist ethics, including utilitarianism and moral relativism.

Dr. Elizabeth Shaw earned her PhD in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America, with a specialty in American Philosophy. She serves as CDU’s associate dean for accreditation and is associate editor of the quarterly journal The Review of Metaphysics, which is published by the non-profit organization the Philosophy Education Society, Inc. This summer she is also serving, by invitation, as faculty at the Dietrich von Hildebrand Project’s annual seminar at Franciscan University of Steubenville, which is now in its 12th year.

Winter II Term Features Fascinating Courses

Winter II classes begin on March 14th, and registration is well underway. Be sure to secure your spot in
the class of your choice soon, and add meaning to your Lenten journey through study while earning
credits! Here is a sampling of a few fascinating courses being offered.

SPIR 501 Applied Catholic Spirituality is a practical how-to course that will help you examine the state
of your personal conversion, learn the art of Christian meditation, the skillsets for the
discernment of spirits and the discernment of God’s will, and much more. A surprising
number of professionals who work for the Church do not have a solid prayer life. Don’t
let that be you! Taught by Dr. Carole Brown, who holds a PhD in Systematic Theology
from Milltown Institute, Dublin, Ireland, and serves as director of the Sioux Spiritual
Center, a small Catholic retreat center in the Diocese of Rapid City. As a Catholic lay
woman, Dr. Brown has been involved in various evangelistic ministries throughout the course of her
adult life.

CHIST 224 & 524 Church History II: Renaissance to Modern Church, the second of two survey courses,
will introduce you to the vast panorama of key issues, leaders, topics and patterns
related to Church history throughout the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, and
into modernity. Taught by Dr. Marie Nuar, who received her STD in Theology from the
Pontifical University of St. Thomas, Rome; her STL in Missiology and MA in Jewish
Studies from the Pontifical Gregorian University; her License in Arabic and Islamic
Studies from the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies; and her MA in Theology from
Franciscan University of Steubenville.


BIO 101 General Biology will open your eyes to the wonder inside each of the 37.2 trillion cells of your
body. It will deepen your appreciation for the world around you and equip you to
grapple with the question of evolution from within the theological boundaries set by
the Church. Taught by Dr. Catherine Gara, an educator and writer who holds a PhD in
Biology from The Johns Hopkins University and specializes in “translating” scientific
research into lay language.


Inspired by Son, Double Alumna Perseveres

Renee Alarcon works as a director of children’s faith formation for Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Arlington, Texas. A two-time graduate of CDU, she earned her BA degree in Theology in late 2021 and her AA degree in Liberal Arts in 2019.

Renee and her husband Mark, who is a cantor and youth choir leader, have attended Most Blessed Sacrament Church for 24 years and have three sons. Their youngest, 14-year-old Luke, was diagnosed with Chronic Leukemia a month before her AA graduation in Fall 2019 but was healthy enough to travel to Washington, D.C., to attend. “He is the real reason why I continued to work toward my degrees,” she says. “He has blood cancer that will never go into true remission and faces lifelong treatment; thankfully, the leukemia cells are undetected at this time, and he lives life to the fullest, never shedding a tear or complaining about his medical care.”

Renee was halfway to a nutrition and accounting degree in her 20s at a community college, “but that fizzled out fast when I started focusing more on building a family,” she says. However, she was easily able to transfer the credits toward her degree at CDU.

“The experience at the community college wasn’t successful for me because it always was missing something,” she says. “Now, 20 years later, I know it was my faith. Going to a school centered on the Catholic faith is what made the difference!”

“CDU works for me because of the compassion of the professors and the way the learning platform has been designed,” she says. “The level of commitment from the professors to make the experience interactive has increased with each term.”

Renee carefully researched which online experience would be best for her needs before selecting CDU. “There are so many details that CDU has thought of with the learning experience that others do not even consider,” she says. “The learning module videos from Dr. Brown and Dr. Nuar plus many other professors have been a real treat!” she adds.

Renee was a technology manager for a public elementary school before graduating with her AA degree. For a long time, she had volunteered in her parish as a wedding assistant, catechist, and youth choir leader. “I wanted more than the public sector could offer and really wanted something in my parish or at least my diocese. I knew that I wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps in Religious Education but wasn’t exactly sure what that would look like,” she says.

Renee’s mom had been a DRE for years when she was a child. “After she passed, I knew I wanted to possibly work as she did for the church. I began a search that led me to only a handful of choices for online learning that offered a truly Catholic experience,” she says.

“I found that CDU had the longest history of distance learning for what I was seeking,” Renee says. “To me, this meant that the university had the best resources to help its students learn while at home, across the country or the world, from the professors. Thankfully, I was right, and when it came to my BA, there was never a question about where I would attend.”

“After going to my graduation, I explored through a lot of prayer and discernment how to use my education to get into a parish and hopefully my parish,” she says. “Of course, 2020 changed all the world with the shutdowns, and I knew from my priest that our Children’s Director had retired and an opportunity was coming in 2021.” Renee had already taken many of her BA classes while in the AA program and was on track to complete the BA in December 2021.

With her AA degree completed, the BA degree imminent, and her volunteer experience, she was offered the position and began work in July 2021. “Seeking out the faith-based career with those not only of my same faith but my same parish helped me as the courses became harder,” she says. She was inspired to bring what she was learning into action through her work.

“My absolute favorite part of my work is that I am bringing families and children to the sacraments!” Renee says. However, this can sometimes be a challenge as well. “Not all of the families are willing to complete the requirements or the time needed to prepare for the sacraments; it takes a village to catechize children, but the same is said for also catechizing the parents/families of those children,” she adds.

Winter II Term Features New Literature Course

New faculty member Brandon Harvey will teach ENG 111 Introduction to Literature in the Winter II term, which begins March 14th. Students who complete this 8-week course will become familiar with some of the most magnificent works of the great authors of the past and also become comfortable conversing about them to explore the ideas of today.

With the addition of this course, BA degree students can now complete all nine of their required English Language Arts credits at CDU.

ENG 111 is an initial survey of the importance of literature and some of the great works of Imaginative Literature. Professor Harvey will lead students through an examination of texts that provide examples of different literary forms and genres from various time periods to engage the Great Conversation of Western Civilization through such literature but also within the Catholic Tradition. Students will engage these masterpieces through both critical and reflective reading to develop and analyze key ideas.

Brandon Harvey has experience teaching children, teens, college students, and men in formation for the diaconate and has also served as headmaster of a Chesterton Academy. Besides teaching and speaking, he regularly works as a theological/editorial consultant for authors, publishers, screenwriters, producers, and occasionally actors.

Professor Harvey is in the process of completing a doctorate in the Great Books of Western Civilization at Harrison Middleton University in Tempe, Arizona, and has completed post-graduate studies at the Liturgical Institute, Mundelein, Illinois, and the International Marian Research Institute, Marian, Ohio. He earned his MA degree in Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

Preparing the Incarcerated for Re-Entry

Drawing upon tremendous success in working with local ex-offenders, Gatekeepers—a nonprofit based in Hagerstown, Maryland—is producing a video series that will take their “Business of Living” re-entry program into state and federal prisons.

The 14-part series prepares the incarcerated for reentry into society with step-by-step instruction. This innovative program is being digitally reproduced and distributed by CDU’s digital prison ministry team in partnership with the Order of Malta Federal Association’s prison committee and will be offered online in prisons this Fall.

CDU’s educational outreach to the incarcerated, which began 38 years ago, continues to be strong with the loving support of Marguerite Trainor. Serving prisoners with Catholic courses has a profound impact on lives as exemplified in recent notes from students.

“These few words are to express my thanks for all your work and assistance with my religious education. May God continue to bless you and the ministry… On May 5, 2021, I was officially received into the Order of Preachers… I am expected to make my life promise in about one more year… Becoming a Dominican and working for God has been the best thing that has happened in my life!”—Mr. Harold R., O.P.

“Your institution is the center of my life. You have brought me to a place in my life which I had never envisioned, and for that I am grateful. There won’t be a time in my life in which I will not be learning with you and from you.”—MS

We are grateful to be able to serve the incarcerated Church and for the donations and grant support that enables us to serve the underserved.

New Five-Term Academic Calendar Adopted

Beginning with the 2021-22 academic year, five terms will be offered instead of six, which will allow for more breaks between terms and several recesses throughout the year, including one during Holy Week. This change was made in response to student feedback indicating a desire for final exam periods that do not extend into the next term and greater accommodation for the many students who assist with sacramental and liturgical preparation just before Easter. Now, just one summer term will be offered rather than two.

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.

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