Given CDU’s mission to educate the Catholic leaders of tomorrow, development of an innovative curriculum in Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is well underway. A new AA degree program in Theology with a concentration in Catholic Social Teaching designed especially for Hispanic Catholics, who will make up the majority of the U.S. Catholic population by 2030, will begin enrolling students in Fall 2023.  There is great need in the Hispanic community to develop well-educated leaders for the Church of the 21st century.

All courses in the affordable online AA degree program being developed by program director Dr. Gerardo Salazar will be taught in Spanish to ensure wider access to higher education for underserved students who may not be fluent in English. Students will benefit from success coaching, and upon earning the degree will be prepared to serve as lay ecclesial ministers in Catholic parishes, pursue further academic study, and potentially enter seminaries.

A graduate certificate program in CST, taught in English, will also launch in 2023. The curriculum is being developed by Rev. Avelino González-Ferrér, a priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, and is targeted to priests, deacons, and lay ecclesial ministers who seek to deepen their understanding of CST to better serve their faith communities. Many Catholic pastoral leaders feel insufficiently knowledgeable when faced with the challenges of immigration, racism, poverty, and family breakdown. The curriculum will draw upon the Church’s broad and deep intellectual tradition to provide the wisdom and insights needed to address these issues within local parishes. There are also plans to develop a hybrid seminar-travel experience in Rome through which students can earn academic credit.

The first graduate course, CST 630: Respect for Life, Sex, Marriage, and Parenting: An Integrated Catholic Approach, will be offered from January 30th through February 24th and taught by noted law professor, writer, and speaker Helen Alvaré. Enrollment in the 1-credit course is underway.

These innovative programs, supported by an $879,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., will also foster greater collaboration with Catholic dioceses.

“CST is essential to the new evangelization and provides a lens through which to view the issues of our time more clearly,” says Bishop Robert Barron, the 2021 recipient of CDU’s Founders Award.  He added that Catholic social teaching is “not just for us, it’s for the whole world. We need to propagate it, we need to teach it. We need to announce it from the rooftops.”