CDU celebrates 40 years, honors
the past, and looks to the future

Catholic Distance University celebrated 40 years of its mission to communicate the mind and heart of the Church in a digital world. The annual CDU gala was held at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia. A symbolic way to celebrate 40 years, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington is the founding diocese of CDU. It was a night to remember when Dr. Michael P. Warsaw, the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of EWTN Global Catholic Network, was honored with the Founders Award, the university’s highest distinction.

In addition, President Emeritus Marianne Evans Mount, Ph.D., was presented with the Vatican’s Dame of St. Gregory Cross by Papal Nuncio, His Eminence Cardinal Christophe Pierre, and the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, President of the USCCB. This distinction is highly deserved. Dr. Mount has a storied history of supporting Catholic education and evangelization. Since the establishment of the Order of St. Gregory the Great on September 1, 1831, only 25 people have been awarded the Grand Cross. The honor is bestowed upon individuals in recognition of their personal service to the Holy See and the Catholic Church, their extraordinary labors, and the examples they set in their communities and their countries.

The gala drew guests from all across the world to join the Convocation Mass, including graduates, faculty, staff, supporters, friends, and family.


Dr. Maria Sophia Aguirre named CDU’s next president
After announcing her retirement last year, Dr. Marianne Evans Mount passed the reins of the Office of the President to someone new. Dr. Mount was involved in CDU leadership in many capacities before becoming president in 2008. Her passion to see the university succeed has influenced her to remain involved in the university, including by becoming a trustee of the Board.

Following a wide search full of talented candidates at the top of their field, Dr. Maria Sophia Aguirre was selected as the new president of CDU in June 2023. A dynamic, leading-edge addition to the university, Dr. Aguirre is a visionary who is equipped and ready to carry the university into the future.

High achievement for the university
This year, CDU was ranked fourth among the top online theology programs by Forbes, CDU being the top Catholic online theology program. The Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts degree was ranked 17th out of 3,000 online programs by, a trusted resource for higher education program rankings and planning. The gala highlighted all of these achievements and more, all while celebrating the class of 2023 graduates.


For more Photos and Videos of our breathtaking event please click the links.
Thank you for supporting our 40th Anniversary Gala.
To make a donation, click here.

Founder's Award Recipient

Michael P. Warsaw

Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer of EWTN Global Catholic Network

Master of Ceremonies

Helen M. Alvaré, JD, MA

Robert A. Levy Endowed Chair in Law and Liberty at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, and CDU instructor for Catholic Social Teaching

We are grateful for your support. Not only has your gift supported our award winner and graduates, you have also supported the only exclusively online university in The Association of Theological Schools. As the university’s only annual fundraiser, the Gala provides much needed revenue to fulfill our strategic mission for Catholic online education that nurtures the spiritual and intellectual life of Catholics around the globe.

Gala Benefactor Sponsors

The Diocese of Arlington
Mr. and Mrs. Alan Holmer
Hon. Janice Obuchowski and Halprin Family Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Pryor


Gala Platinum Sponsors

Mr. and Mrs. Carlo Molano


Gala Mission Sponsor

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
EWTN Global Catholic Network
Mrs. Barbara Keebler and Mrs. Terrence Giroux
Mr. and Mrs. Brian Maher
Mr. and Mrs. William Page
Mr. and Mrs. Paul S. Stevens
Dr. and Mrs. Charles Wasaff


Gala Champion Sponsor

The Basilica of St. Mary
Mr. and Mrs Robert J. Smith
Good Shepherd Catholic Church


Gala Patron Sponsor

The Archdiocese for the Military Services USA
Mrs. Bertha Braddock
Tony Braddock/Loch Harbour Group
The Diocese of Brooklyn
Dr. Clarion Johnson
Korte Realty
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Lalljie
Mr. and Mrs. Justin Lilley
Mrs. Blanche Moore
Dr. Marianne Evans Mount
The Order Of Malta Federal Association, Northern Virginia Friends
Saint Luke Catholic Church
Dr. and Mrs. Fritz Scheuren


Gala Associate Sponsor

Mr. and Mrs. Peter Jones
Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church


Gala Friend Sponsor

Dr. Maria Sophia Aguirre
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas “Randy” Bender
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Birkofer
Mrs. Mary Ellen Bork
Dr. Araceli Carnazzo
Dr. and Mrs. Peter Casarella
The Catholic University of America Faculty and Staff
Mr. Dan Curtin
The Diocese of Venice
Mrs. Geraldine Hall
Ms. Jean Halle and Mr. Glenn Davis
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Hertz
Hobbs Properties, Inc.
The Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde
Hon. Susan R. Malone and Col. Geroge Malone
Mr. and Mrs. John McCabe
Jerry and Kelly McGinn
Dr. Margaret Melady
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Metteauer
Nativity Catholic Church
His Eminence, Christophe Cardinal Pierre
Mr. and Mrs. George Muñoz
Mr. and Mrs. John Palaszczuk
Saint Theresa Catholic Church
Mr. and Mrs. Harry Wilkins
Sr. Mary Brendon Zajac, SND
St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church


Trips Sponsor


In 1983, Bishop Thomas Welsh founded CDU to bring the truth of Christ and His Church to the world through online distance education. CDU’s web-based learning community enhances adult faith formation and enables access to accredited degree programs in theology simply with a connection to the Internet.  Today, our graduates are proof that CDU’s digital learning is transformative. Nine out of ten graduates are using their knowledge in roles that serve the Church. For many students, CDU is their only option to enhance their professional work, to prepare for careers in the Church, to volunteer in parishes and dioceses, and to be parents who are both witnesses and missionary disciples, speaking with passion and knowledge about the faith. All this is accomplished at less than half the cost of attending a traditional Catholic university or college and would not be possible without the generosity of people like you.

Your generous donation to our annual event enables us to provide transformative Catholic education in fidelity to the teachings of the Church anytime, anywhere around the world, delivered 24/7 to smart phones and tablets, iPhones and iPads!  You make it possible for CDU to serve the underserved and those who serve, and to achieve our great mission to “Teach all Nations” by communicating the mind and heart of the Church in a digital world.  Your gift:

  • Educates American service men and women deployed around the world.
  • Prepares directors of religious education, teachers, and catechists to teach, promote, and defend the Catholic faith
  • Brings the healing Word of God to Catholic prison inmates who take courses to deepen their faith and evangelize fellow inmates.
  • Supports Mission Dioceses with scholarships for strong lay leaders.
  • Holds down tuition rates. Most graduates share their knowledge and serve the Church.
  • Supports isolated and marginalized Catholics around the globe with online campus resources.

Your generosity answers the need of the Church to provide transformative religious education in an online format that is essential for the New Evangelization so frequently mentioned by Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis.  Understanding and sharing our Faith will transform individuals, communities and cultures around the globe.  Thank you for supporting CDU’s 2021 Gala.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Previous Honorees:

2022 – His Excellency Most Reverend Salvatore Cordileone

2021 – His Excellency Most Reverend Robert Barron

2019 – His Excellency Most Reverend Christophe Pierre

2017 – Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, SJ, PhD

2016 – Carl A. Anderson

Supreme Knight of The Knights of Columbus

2016 – His Excellency Most Reverend William E. Lori

Archbishop of Baltimore and Supreme Chaplain of Knights of Columbus

2015 – Helen Alvare, JD

Professor of Law, George Mason University

2014 – His Excellency The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio

Archbishop for the Military Services

2014 – His Excellency The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio

Bishop of Brooklyn

2013 – Barbara & Tim Murphy

2012 – Dr. Margaret & Ambassador Thomas Melady

2011 – His Excellency, The Most Reverend Pietro Sambi

Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America

2011 – Joseph and Bertha Braddock

2010 – His Excellency, The Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde

Bishop of Arlington

2010 – EWTN

Mr. Michael Warsaw, Chairman of the Board

Previous Honorees:

2017 – St. James the Greater

Rev. John S. Ledford

2017 – St. Veronica Catholic Church

Rev. Dennis W. Kleinmann

2016 – Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

Rev. John D. Kelly

2015 – Good Shepherd Catholic Church

Rev. Thomas Ferguson

2014 – St. John the Apostle Roman Catholic Church

Rev. John P. Mosimann

2013 – St. Mary Catholic Church

Rev.  Dennis W. Kleinmann

2012 – Holy Spirit Catholic Church

Rev.  John M. O’Donohue

2011 – St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church

2010 – St. Agnes Catholic Church

Rev. Frederick H. Edlefsen

2019 – Diocese of Brooklyn