Professor Padgett Earns His STL

On March 7th, Professor Chris Padgett successfully defended his thesis, “The Life and Mariology of Father Juniper Carol, O.F.M,” earning his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Marianist Institute at the University of Dayton. Chris has been a faculty member since 2015 and will teach THEO 304 Foundations of Catholicism and THEO 640 Presenting the Faith in the Modern World: Dealing with the Hard Questions in the Summer I term.

Father Juniper Carol was born in 1911 in Cardenas, Cuba, and eventually came to the United States and joined the Franciscans. He started the Mariological Research Institute and published extensively on the predestination of Mary with Jesus, The Debitum Peccati, and Mary as coredemptrix, exploring her crucial role in salvation history. He died in 1990.

“I was first introduced to Carol through Mariology courses I took at Franciscan University of Steubenville,” Chris says. “I ended up having Dr. Mark Miravalle as my adviser, and I think that his love for Mary and the people he referenced had a big influence on me.”

Chris and his wife, Linda, have been married for more than 25 years and have nine children–five girls and four boys–and a couple of grandchildren. They live in Central New York on a little homestead in a nine-sided, red house and travel extensively. Chris and Linda and have a non-profit ministry for Marriages and Families called Catholic Family and Marriage, Inc. www.catholicfam.org. Chris is active on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

ATS Grants Candidacy to Graduate School of Theology

At its February 7-8, 2019, meeting, the Board of Commissioners of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) unanimously voted CDU’s Graduate School of Theology a Candidate for Accreditation. Founded in 1918, ATS accredits more than 270 graduate schools of theology and most Catholic seminaries in the United States and Canada. Member schools offer post-baccalaureate professional and academic degree programs to educate students for the practice of ministry and for teaching and research in the theological disciplines.

The Graduate School of Theology’s purpose is to provide a transformative learning experience in the digital space and to develop leaders and teachers for the new evangelization in the 21st century. Nearly ninety percent of Graduate School of Theology alumni serve the Church in some ministry, including as youth ministers, directors of religious education, catechists, school teachers, liturgy directors, professors of theology, parish administrators, religious sisters, and diocesan staff. Others use their education to work in the public, non-profit, or private sectors in a variety of fields including education, healthcare, and business.

Notable alumni include Dr. Angelo Giardino, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Well known within the medical community, his career has focused on treating and preventing suffering in children who may have experienced abuse or neglect. Dr. Giardino serves on the National Board of Directors for Prevent Child Abuse America, the National Review Board for the Protection of Children, and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, in addition to CDU’s Board of Trustees. He also serves as a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Fifty-two percent of Graduate School of Theology alumni are women. Since CDU was founded in 1983, its educational programs have offered women an opportunity to more fully enter into the life and leadership of the Church community. About one-third of the graduate school’s faculty members are women, and a number of women serve on CDU’s Board of Trustees.

Collectively, ATS member schools enroll approximately 74,500 students and employ more than 7,200 faculty and administrators. The mission of ATS is to promote the improvement and enhancement of theological schools to the benefit of communities of faith and the broader public. Member schools are committed to the following shared values: diversity, quality and improvement, collegiality, and leadership. Candidacy is the first step toward full accreditation, which would likely be achieved in a period of two years.

CDU has been continuously accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, a national accreditor, since 1986 and is authorized to grant degrees through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. In November 2018, CDU was named a Candidate for Accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits post-secondary educational institutions in a 19-state region that includes West Virginia, where CDU is headquartered.

AA Grad to Pursue Passion for Youth Ministry

Mary Kate Budd, pictured with her fiancé, Jason, recently completed her AA degree in Liberal Arts while working full-time for the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan. “CDU gave me a chance that I didn’t think I would have at first–a chance to study theology online in a way that would be easy for me as a working young adult,” she says.

With a passion for youth ministry, Mary Kate looks forward to using her education to share with young people the beauty of having a relationship with Jesus. “I can’t wait to use the tools that I have gained from CDU to accomplish what Christ is calling me to,” she says.

Mary Kate attended Franciscan University at Steubenville at first, where she planned to major in English for a career in education. While she loved the university, it was expensive. To avoid being saddled with student loan debt, she decided not to return following freshman year and switched to a community college near home.

One day her brother suggested that she should look into studying theology. “It was then that a light bulb went on in my head,” she says. “Why in the world had I never considered that before?” Mary Kate found the major to be a perfect fit.

Knowing she would have to pursue her education online because she was working full time, she began researching programs. “Eventually, I stumbled upon Catholic Distance University, read the entire website, and applied that very same night. It was with joy that I found out a few weeks later that I had been accepted and that a lot of my credits had also transferred,” she says.

“I liked how helpful the professors were and how concerned they were for their students,” Mary Kate says. “I also enjoyed the interactions I had with my fellow classmates. Every class started with an introduction, and it was so interesting to read about all the different classmates I had, where they came from, and all the different walks of life they came from as well.”

Kathy Vestermark, her first professor at CDU, was her favorite. She teaches THEO 101 and THEO 102, which cover the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “Professor Vestermark was always ready to help, and studying under her was such a pleasure,” Mary Kate says. “We were truly able to dive into the beauties of theology in those classes, and she did such a wonderful job presenting the Catechism to us.”

Mary Kate grew up in a strong, close-knit, faith-filled Catholic family as the youngest of six children. “Growing up, my mom would take us all to Mass every day and to Perpetual Adoration at least once a week. I grew up learning through the Baltimore Catechism and reading books about the Saints. The Faith was just a part of our daily lives,” she says. As she grew older, the Faith fascinated her, and she wanted to learn more. “My Confirmation in 2007 at the age of 14 was such a joyful moment, and it spurred me on to continue learning,” she says.

“When I came back home from Franciscan, I knew I was going to need to find a community of young Catholics to back me up after losing the community I had while away at college,” Mary Kate says. She joined a Catholic youth group at a local state university as well as a young adult group in her diocese that her sister had founded.

The groups were great for helping her grow in her faith and providing community, but they were small, and it was hard to gain traction and the attention of Catholic young people. Going to Mass on any given Sunday she noticed high attendance among older people but few young people. “This broke my heart, and I knew something needed to change,” she says. “I wanted to show other young Catholics not only how fun our groups were, but how beautiful the Catholic Faith was, and the love that can only come from a relationship that has to constantly be growing with Christ.”

“Through the two young adult groups I met my future husband, Jason,” Mary Kate says. He was in seminary at the time, but in early 2017, he announced that he would no longer be studying for the priesthood. “This sounds funny, but I was a bit disappointed! I thought he would make a great priest,” she says. After a while, they began dating. He proposed to her in the Adoration chapel she had routinely visited as a child. “I, of course, said yes,” she says. Their wedding is scheduled for June, and they look forward to having a family someday.

“After our marriage, I hope to be able to find a job in youth ministry in our area if I can and to keep learning and studying on my own the Catholic Faith. I hope to also enter the BA program at CDU at some point to earn my Bachelor’s degree in theology,” she says.

“But my biggest plan is, and will remain, God willing, that I will be able to help young people come to know, love, and serve God in this life, so to be happy with Him in the next.”

Brooklyn Graduate Student with Law Degree Serves Disabled Community

Graduate student Andrew Toscano of Brooklyn, NY, works for Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC), which serves New York City and Long Island. As a Family Support Services Coordinator, he helps families obtain eligibility and the necessary funding to access services from New York State’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. “As everything I do in some way helps the individual and his/her family, the most rewarding part for me is helping all of the people I work with to become as independent as possible,” Andrew says.

Though he already held a J.D. degree from New York Law School, Andrew earned an M.S. in Special Education and Teaching from Mercy College in 2011. He attributes the change in career path to an eventful life and divine providence. “God allowed me to freely make decisions and brought me people who led me to my current position both professionally and personally,” he explains.

“I decided that I wanted to help those in most need and chose a career working with the mentally and developmentally disabled,” Andrew says. “My JD was useful for several years (and still is), but the MS in Special Education was the degree I felt would be most useful in a variety of positions.”

Andrew student taught middle school for a semester and planned to teach special education, but a chance meeting on the subway led him to work with disabled adults in a different capacity. “I had a conversation with a woman who mentioned that there was a position open at an agency. I decided to follow up, was offered the position, and thus began my work with disabled adults,” he says.

Andrew and his wife, Margrett, both lector and teach RCIA at All Saints Roman Catholic Parish in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Both are pursuing graduate theology study at CDU, which the Diocese of Brooklyn generously funds for those working in ministries with in the diocese. Andrew says they are both grateful to the Diocese for making Catholic higher education possible through CDU for those who serve the diocese’s parishes. The Diocese of Brooklyn is the nation’s fifth most populous, serving 1.5 million Catholics and spanning a 179-square mile area.

“My wife and I both wish to become DREs and work full time with the Diocese, and this program so far is exceeding our expectations. The online aspect is the biggest asset for us as we both work full time and it allows us to obtain a quality education without affecting our employment and exhausting us with physical classes,” he says.

“We are very happy to be with CDU,” Andrew says. “In addition to the online aspect, the professionalism and enthusiasm of the CDU team is refreshing. We also feel comfortable because CDU seems to believe in authentic Catholic teaching without some of the abuses we have seen in other ‘Catholic colleges.’” he adds.

Higher Learning Commission Grants Candidacy to CDU

At its November 1, 2018, meeting, the Board of Trustees of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) named Catholic Distance University (CDU) a Candidate for Accreditation. Founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States, HLC is the largest of the regional accreditors, accrediting 1,000 colleges and universities in the North Central region. Nineteen states comprise the region, which includes West Virginia, CDU’s home state. Candidacy is official recognition of affiliation with HLC. Full initial accreditation is usually achieved in a period of two to four additional years.

CDU has been continuously accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, a national accreditor, for over 30 years and is authorized to grant degrees through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. In June 2018, the Graduate School of Theology was named an Associate Member of the Association of Theological Schools, which accredits more than 270 theological schools and most Catholic seminaries in the United States.

CDU’s Board of Trustees, which is chaired by Dr. Charles Wasaff, has identified full regional and programmatic accreditation as the University’s foremost priority in its Strategic Plan. President Marianne Evans Mount explains, “In addition to our 30-year history of accreditation with the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, we are fully committed to achieving initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission and the Association of Theological Schools to demonstrate the quality of our academic programs and the value of the credentials earned at CDU by our outstanding graduates who are breaking new ground for the Church in pursuing online theological education.”

Graduates Honored at Academic Convocation Mass

On November 3, 2018, CDU graduates from across the United States traveled to the National Shrine of St. John Paul II in Washington, DC, to attend the annual Academic Convocation Mass, where all 2018 graduates were honored for their academic achievements. More than 60 students from throughout the United States as well as Japan, Scotland, Austria, and Canada earned academic degrees and certificates this year. University Chancellor Archbishop Timothy Broglio served as the principal celebrant, and trustee Bishop Emeritus Paul Loverde of Arlington con-celebrated.

Given the many reasons why students choose to study online, including cost, schedules, family responsibilities, work, and health, we are always delighted to meet those who are able to travel to the Washington, DC, area to participate in the Academic Convocation Mass. They represent their fellow graduates and and enjoy the opportunity to meet each other, the faculty, and staff members who attend. Read more about the outstanding graduates who attended the Mass below.

 

 

Irma Juanita Alvarez: MA (Theology)
Irma Juanita Alvarez enrolled in 2011 immediately after retiring as a teacher and administrator at Southwestern Community College in Chula Vista, CA. She had seen Dr. Robert Royal and other CDU representatives on EWTN promoting CDUs graduate programs in theology and felt the Lord’s call to deepen her understanding of the Catholic Church and its theological roots so she could teach and evangelize others. “The fact that the CDU program was taught by an outstanding faculty and that it was taught online caught my interest,” she says. “The CDU program has been both challenging and inspiring for me. I am very grateful for the education I have received from such distinguished professors, and I thank God for having allowed me this opportunity.”
Cierra Elizabeth Holt: BA Theology
After moving around the United States in her youth, Cierra and her family settled in Florida. Wishing to focus on the most important thing in life, relationship with God, Cierra chose to complete her undergraduate studies at CDU. Cierra uses the knowledge gained from her studies to teach others about the Faith, especially children in her parish’s faith formation program. Cierra is grateful to CDU for offering her an orthodox Catholic education, to her parents for making her studies possible, and to the Holy Trinity for blessing her continually.
Alfredo Garcia Lopez: BA Theology
Alfredo Garcia Lopez, of Fresno, CA, was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and emigrated to the United States in 1987. He is married with three children and is self-employed, working in the field of taxes and insurance since 1989. “Going back to the Church in 2005, I started to participate in bible studies. I now participate in several ministries at Saint John’s Cathedral,” he says. “I was looking for a more in-depth understanding of my faith and providentially found Catholic Distance University. It has been a marvelous and awesome experience to have been introduced to the wonderful mysteries of our God. I’m deeply thankful to my teachers and all the people at CDU.”
Mary McKay: MA (Theology)
Mary McKay is Liturgy Director at St Mary of Sorrows. In a volunteer role she serves as a facilitator for some of the adult faith formation programs offered at St Mary’s, which is a passion of hers. “In both my paid and volunteer capacities, I use what I learned at CDU nearly every day,” Mary says. “I’m also particularly grateful to Fr Bramwell who, early on, pushed us to be precise in our language when speaking about theology.”
Maria Moore-Michels: BA Theology
Maria Moore-Michels of Wrightwood, CA, first heard of CDU in 2007 from a former student. “I thought it was a tantalizing dream,” she says. “My wishful thinking, written on a napkin, became reality in 2013. Today, I am here to joyfully walk for my BA first and foremost by the grace of God who filled my life with my daughter Jacqueline, whose studies inspired me to keep learning, because of Robert my late husband’s love of the word, and because my current husband Arnie and my parents Maria Luisa and Narciso lovingly encouraged me. I thank my Lord for this unbelievable achievement in his honor, for directing me to follow him as an Oblate of St. Andrew’s Abbey, for all the children I have been blessed to teach in RCIC, and for the tremendous joy of serving him as Eucharistic Minister, Reader, and Master of Ceremonies at Our Lady of the Snows in beautiful Wrightwood, CA.”
Nicholas R. Radloff: MA (Theology)
Nicholas Radloff of Dyersville, Iowa, a former captain in the U.S. Air Force and now a civilian, studied aerospace engineering at Saint Louis University. After completing undergraduate studies in 2008, he began a career as a Combat Search and Rescue Navigator with the U.S. Air Force flying the HC-130 aircraft. While on active duty, Nicholas began his studies at CDU and is grateful for the opportunity to study theology while simultaneously being deployed to many parts of the world. His courses played a role in his discernment, and he left the Air Force to pursue the priesthood. Nicholas is currently a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Dubuque studying at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois.
Suzanne Reinhardt-Johnson: MA (Theology)
Suzanne Reinhardt-Johnson is married with four adult children and two grandchildren. She works part-time as a preschool teacher. After serving as a catechist for her children, Suzanne began her studies at CDU. “The convenient online classes and support of the instructors and discussion chat rooms made learning the curriculum and deepening one’s faith an unsurpassed experience,” she says. She makes use of both as a catechist in multiple ministries in her home parish.
1 2 3 6