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A Second Rome: Catholic Distance University Nurtures the Heart of the Church — Online

Students get a faithful Catholic education, rooted in the teachings of the Catholic Church, without leaving home

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It’s becoming increasingly common for colleges and universities to offer online programs. After all, these programs are often more affordable and convenient for students and allow them to continue working while pursuing a course of studies. But Catholic Distance University—a pioneer in online education—has taken online learning a step further, creating an exclusively online Catholic university with community, a rich pedagogy and vast resources.
Donald Cardinal Wuerl—just one of many bishops who endorse CDU—says, “In an age that leaves us with little time to learn the science of God and methods of catechesis, CDU has emerged as a way to integrate family and professional responsibilities with a methodical approach to doctrinal, moral and spiritual formation.”
Back when CDU opened its doors in 1983, it offered Catholic adult education by way of audio cassettes, which at the time was an innovation in the Catholic world. Today, CDU is just as dedicated to using technology to further its mission of providing undergraduate and graduate students with a rich Catholic education.
In the words of CDU President Marianne Mount, «We are passionate about engaging today’s technology to bring a transformative learning experience directly to each student. The encounter with the living word of God awaits each of our students who has come to CDU to fall more deeply in love with the Catholic faith to serve others by growing in knowledge and understanding, especially in the Year of Mercy. »
«As Pope Francis recently reminded us, ‘The internet can be used wisely to build a society which is healthy and open to sharing,'» she adds.
CDU utilizes a rich online platform to host courses that were specifically designed for their MA in Theology, MA for Catholic Educators, AA in the Liberal Arts with a Catholic Studies Concentration and BA in Theology. Rather than recording material from a live class and then putting it online, CDU recognizes that students learn best when course materials are provided in a variety of formats, often including written, audio and video.  
CDU’s faculty believes that online education often provides students more of an opportunity to participate in class and interact with others. All students are required to contribute to class discussion online each week. In this way, each student is able to articulate what he or she is learning and benefit from the comments of others. With an international student body, students are in an enriched environment, learning from the knowledge and experiences not only of a great faculty, but also from their classmates’ diversity of experience.
CDU students receive attention and guidance with small class sizes, 24/7 technical support and library services provided by a trained theological librarian. There is even an active student life center, monitored by an alumna, where students gather and converse about a variety of topics related to their theological education.
Virginia Marie Taylor, a student in the MA in Theology program, sums up her experience. “CDU’s students, faculty, and staff live the school motto, Joy from the Truth. It comes across everywhere, from the casual conversations in the Café to the dedicated discussions in campus classrooms. Anyone who has this joy or wants to discover it more fully should seriously consider enrolling in a CDU course or program. It’s challenging but rewarding,” she says.
While many priests travel to Rome to receive a rich theological education in proximity to the Vatican, Catholic Distance University has made it possible to receive a faithful Catholic education, rooted in the teachings of the Catholic Church, without leaving home. Here, students find faculty, staff and fellow students who are eager to learn the faith and transmit it to others.
For more information about Catholic Distance University, visit

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Caitlin Bootsma

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