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COVID-19 CDU Community Update

Be assured that Catholic Distance University remains fully operational, and there will be no disruption to educational services or contact with our staff or faculty. Until further notice, staff will work remotely. We encourage you to communicate with us by email to ensure a prompt response. Staff will continue to receive phone calls and voicemail, but mail will be checked only occasionally. We pray that you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. University officials will continue to post any updates here.

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Registration for the Summer II term is underway! Classes begin June 28th. View courses here.


May 21, 2023

MA Grad’s Apostolate Focuses on Putting God First

By her own admission, Christina Semmens’ path has been composed of many winding roads.  But those winding roads took her to CDU and to the work she does today.  Christina’s journey started at Marquette for undergraduate degrees in both Theology and History. Then she entered active duty as a U.S. Army officer and served overseas, including a combat tour during the first Gulf War. Following active duty, she completed a Masters in history, taught social studies to middle and high school students, and found herself involved in youth ministry.  She wanted to ensure that her theology was deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition and was therefore exploring catechetical certification when she found CDU. Christina jumped in and quickly became part of the first class to receive their entire Master’s degree online.  She deeply appreciates that it is CDU that gave her a holistic understanding of the faith.  It was not just the pieces, such as scripture or liturgy or social justice, it provided a fullness of faith that she cherishes to this day. Meanwhile, as a mother, wife, and security officer in support of her husband’s defense contracting business, she found herself moving again, and again.  Fortunately, because CDU was completely online, she did not lose a step in her study of the Faith.  She recalls that while she had pieces of faith before, her faith was not truly complete.  She earned her original degree in the 1990s, before the new Catechism was released.  By reflecting on Pope John Paul II, his transformative Theology of the Body, and the various CDU classes she took, all of these insights merged to help create a profound deepening of faith for Christina. Currently serving as a Coordinator for Parish Ministries, she views her role as formative, helping staff get on board with the true mission of the parish.  She recounts that often people look at parishes in a very narrow way; it is there for sacraments, etc., and they don’t realize that a parish is really there to help people be intentional about encountering God. In reality, God puts people into a parish in a particular way as He has something He wants each of them to do together. Intentionality is at the core of Christina.  She has served as a spiritual mentor, guiding people to continued formation.  She remembers most clearly when Sherry Weddell’s book Forming Intentional Disciples came out, and its message simply broke her heart. It put facts to something that she instinctively knew, that of those coming to church, 46% do not realize that God loves them and wants a personal relationship with them.  With this knowledge, Christina went down the path of discovering how to change that. All of these pieces came together as Christina started the apostolate “Say Yes to Holiness.” Christina knows that we are all called to holiness in our lives, that we say yes, but then we are unsure of what to do. Her apostolate focuses on helping people pursue a life of holiness and do things in union with the mind and heart of the Church. Christina was sick with COVID in 2020 when her book, Say Yes: Discovering Purpose, Peace and Abundance in Daily Life, was released. The book focuses on answering the questions of why and how we should live a life in which we put God first. She recognized that people need a plan for their life that is “flavorful” for them. She sees so many people leaving “gifts on the table,” as if they have forgotten to invite the saints and angels into their life or they don’t appreciate that their spiritual life needs to be integrated with the rest of their life.  Christina’s book quickly morphed into a full-blown apostolate, now vibrant with videos, podcasts, coaching accompaniment, mentorship, etc.  Christina’s passion is to help people discern what they are to do.  Her apostolate “provides them tools to be able to flourish.” As Christina reflects on her journey, she could not have expected that she would have been led to this place.  She shared that she got here through “winding roads, not usually traveled, that God made straight in the end.”  Christina is grateful for her CDU experience, sharing, “only afterwards do you realize the gift you were given, and that CDU is that gift.” The gift of CDU to Christina keeps giving and giving, because through her foundation in theology from CDU, her “Say Yes to Holiness” apostolate continues to help bring more people to God so they can pursue holiness and the life that God wants for them. Say Yes to Holiness website: Say Yes to Holiness podcast: Say Yes to Holiness YouTube Channel: The Catholic Leadership Puzzle on Substack:
May 3, 2023

New President to Be Appointed

The Honorable Maria Sophia Aguirre, Ph.D., a distinguished Ordinary Professor of Economics and researcher in the field of finance, family, and economic development, will be appointed the third President of Catholic Distance University on July 1, 2023. The university’s Board of Trustees unanimously elected Dr. Aguirre following a national search launched after longtime President, Dr. Marianne Evans Mount, announced her wish to retire at the end of the 2022–2023 academic year. A tenured faculty member at The Catholic University of America, Dr. Aguirre has 30 years of teaching and research experience, while holding leadership positions at the academic program level, department and school levels, as well as the university at large. She was a Fulbright scholar in 2012–2013. After completing Accounting and Business Administration degrees in Argentina, Dr. Aguirre worked in accounting and commodities trading in Chicago for several years before earning an M.A. and then a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame with concentrations in monetary and fiscal policies and international financial markets. She has represented countries, including the Holy See, in international organizations, and served the U.S. President and Secretary of State as a presidential appointee confirmed by Congress in the capacity of Commissioner and Adviser for two presidential terms. Dr. Aguirre has testified before Congress in the U.S. and in several other countries, and has lectured and published extensively both domestically and internationally. Since leaving government, Dr. Aguirre has worked to develop and implement Integral Economic Development (IED), an interdisciplinary approach to economic analysis that recognizes the role of social relationships—first manifested by the family—as key drivers of economic activity. Dr. Aguirre’s research, and the two master’s degree programs in Integral Economic Development she founded, have led to successful collaboration with a variety of business leaders, academicians, technologists, and policy makers on six continents, improving the lives of millions of people in the developing world. She is currently on leave at the University of St. Thomas in Houston conducting research on the application of IED to artificial intelligence and virtual reality. “In searching for a successor to our great President, Dr. Marianne Mount, CDU struck gold in recruiting Dr. Aguirre,” said CDU’s Board Chair, Stephen Pryor. “Sophia Aguirre is a visionary academic leader with a track record of successful academic innovation, as well as pioneering economic research that is Catholic Social Teaching (CST) in action. As CDU implements its new CST curriculum in the U.S. and Latin America, her international experience, fluency in Spanish, and research background will be game changers,” Mr. Pryor said. Marianne Mount Lauded for Leadership President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount has served CDU for 40 years. Under her leadership, CDU has grown from a catechetical institute with a staff of two to the world’s only exclusively online Catholic university, with accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and The Association of Theological Schools. Dr. Mount served as Education Director from 1983 to 1985, Executive Director from 1985 to 1996, Executive Vice President from 1997 to 2008, and as President since 2008 after earning her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech. Under Dr. Mount’s leadership, CDU is implementing an innovative new curriculum in Catholic Social Teaching, enabled by the largest grant received in the university’s history, as well as new academic partnerships that will foster enrollment growth and offer students an expanded range of academic programs. In reflecting on the contributions of President Mount, Mr. Pryor noted that “Marianne Mount has been a remarkable servant leader who has devoted her entire professional career to advancing the mission of CDU. Under her leadership, CDU has built a reputation as a pioneer in online theological education that is completely faithful to the teachings of the Church. Dr. Mount was recently appointed as a consultor to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education in recognition of her many contributions to the innovative realm of Catholic distance education. As she hands over the reins to Dr. Aguirre, the CDU community looks forward to an exciting future as a global trendsetter in online Catholic education.” Dr. Aguirre’s vision for CDU builds on the foundation laid by her predecessor. “Under the leadership of Dr. Mount, the university has forged an impressive path and is now positioned for growth that will include curriculum development in mission-related fields, a larger global footprint, and a new agenda of institutional research through CDU’s proven online pedagogy. I am honored, grateful, and humbled by this opportunity to lead CDU on the next stage of its journey,” she said. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Mary Kate White, Director of Communications, Catholic Distance University, 300 S. George St., Charles Town, WV 25414; 304-724-5000, ext. 717. To learn more about CDU, visit  
April 20, 2023

How Are We Saved? The Catholic View of Salvation

Offered June 12–July 3, 2023, this three-week online seminar will present ways to credibly, convincingly, and compellingly explain and share how we know that heaven and the afterlife are real. Taught by Steven Hemler, President of the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America, this seminar will also present Catholic teaching on why it was necessary for Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us, and how we can accept this most precious gift of salvation. Tuition is just $99, or less if you belong to a diocese that partners with CDU, and study can be completed when you have time available during the offering dates. Enroll at
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As reported in CDU’s 2020 DEAC Annual Report, based on program exit survey data.

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