Alvare receives CDU’s Founders Award

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Helen Alvaré, professor of law at George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, received the Catholic Distance University's Founders Award Nov. 21 at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde, chairman of CDU's board of trustees, was the celebrant and homilist at the opening Mass.

CDU President Marianne Evans Mount said that since CDU, which recently moved its headquarters to Charles Town, W.Va., is a digital university, the annual gala is the one night of the year "where we meet our students face to face."

Mount said there are 55 graduates this year, including one from Budapest, Hungary, and another currently incarcerated.

Mount said she believes that CDU is the only digital Catholic university in the world.

A digital university doesn't have brick, mortar or ivy, she said, but rather, CDU's campus is visible on a computer screen.

"Each (CDU) graduate is transformed into a new person, eager to share the beauty of the faith," she said.

Mount said that CDU graduates take on leadership positions in their dioceses, promote a Christian way of life and reflect the joy of married life.

"This is the yeast of a CDU education," she said. "We are a small institution, with a large mission."

Father Thomas P. Ferguson, pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, accepted the Bishop Thomas J. Welsh Parish Award from Susan Malone, a member of CDU's board of trustees.

After accepting the Founders Award from Bishop Loverde and Mount, Alvare reflected on her personal journey from Cornell Law School through receiving a doctoral degree from Catholic University in Washington.

In addition to teaching law, Alvaré is a prolific author and writer on matters concerning marriage, parenting, non-marital households and the First Amendment religion clauses. In addition to her books, she is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Huffington Post and USA Today.

"It is possible to fall in love again with your faith, with the church," Alvare told the crowd. "Rationality and kindness leave an impression. Over time, it pays dividends."

CDU approaches the challenges facing the church today "with a bring-it-on mentality," she said.

Mount then presented Bishop Loverde with a special gift to celebrate the golden jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood. John McCabe, a member of CDU's board of trustees and a gifted artist, sketched a portrait of the bishop alongside CDU former headquarters.

Bishop Loverde credited Bishop Welsh and Mount with having the original vision to establish CDU in 1983.

CDU communicates the Gospel in ways that people can connect with, he said. "My heart rejoices with gratitude for all of you."

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015