Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

Volunteering at Catholic Distance University

by | Apr 1, 2014

Bob Thomsen, IVC volunteer from Northern Virginia, is currently assigned to Catholic Distance University (CDU) in Hamilton, Virginia.  Bob has been with IVC for over 4 years and served at CDU since April 2013.

CDU was founded in 1983 as the first catechetical institute in the United States to award the Catechetical Diploma and teach the Catholic faith to adults using distance education. Today CDU is a fully online university specializing in theological education and faith development. The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization praised CDU for its work and its ability to reach the faithful around the world because of its unique commitment to and experience with online education.

CDU has had over 9300 students in 50 states and 64 countries throughout the world.  In addition to its online programs, CDU maintains a number of its courses in print so as to be able to reach incarcerated Catholics. CDU prison’s ministry has been integral to its mission from the beginning.

Bob has been involved in supporting CDU in a variety of projects since he arrived and has been impressed by the commitment of the entire CDU faculty and staff to the teachings of the Catholic Church and their own deeply held faith.

Last year Bob interviewed the CDU Staff and completed a Return on Investment (ROI) Analysis of the Comprehensive Academic Management System and the Academic Enterprise Resource Planning System software to determine what functionality could be improved for business operations and made recommendations on how better use of existing systems might help increase their enrollment and improve the tracking of student prospects through the use of the CDU’s marketing software.

Bob recently completed a survey of alumni and many commented on how they found their education at CDU to be inspirational and transformative.

Bob has also conducted research on diocesan requirements for DRE certification aimed at helping CDU be more responsive to the needs of the Church.

If you would like additional information on CDU for yourself, your parish, or your diocese, Bob suggested exploring their website and contacting Carol Ciullo, Director of Admissions, at the toll free number 1-800-254-4238 (extension 700) or e-mail her at admissions@cdu.edu with any questions that you may have.

Bob wanted to conclude this article with a few thoughts on Pope Francis’ Lenten Message for 2014 and relate it to our volunteer service to others.

The Pope encourages the faithful to “imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by His Poverty,” and he said that the “Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution.”

Pope Francis calls for our own self-denial, which may be difficult for us to do at times, but does enrich others whom we serve during this Lenten period.

We Christians are called to face the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.”

Our society needs a new kind of leadership based on finding greatness in humble service rather than arrogance.

This is what Pope Francis means when he encourages Christians to imitate the poverty of Christ.

This type of leadership comes when we are open to the word of God and serve others.

What a blessing the Ignatian Volunteer Corps has been for all of us.


Bob Thomsen, IVC volunteer from Northern Virginia, is assigned to Catholic Distance University (CDU) in Hamilton, Virginia. Bob has been with IVC for over 4 years and served at CDU since April 2013. Bob and his wife Eileen have six children and eleven grandchildren. Bob and his wife live at the Regency at Dominion Valley retirement community in Haymarket, VA. Bob currently is a Eucharistic Minister at St. Stephen the Martyr church in Middleburg, VA.  Prior to his retirement, Bob worked for over 35 years in various management jobs with the federal government throughout the country. He participated in Prison Prayer Ministry when he lived in Long Island, New York, and Bob and his wife were a team presenting couple for Worldwide Marriage Encounter. After he moved to Virginia, Bob was President for Four Oaks Estates HOA in Fairfax County, and he has been active in the Knights of Columbus, Arlington Diocese Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and Lectio Divina /Centering Prayer Groups in northern Virginia.