In 1887, Pope Leo XIII chartered The Catholic University of America in the nation’s capital to “provide the Church with worthy ministers for the salvation of souls [and] give the Republic her best citizens.”

Now, 133 years later, the world contends with a global pandemic that has yet to be contained. Quickly, everything changed as businesses and schools moved online and people were asked to stay inside. In his Angelus address on March 22, Pope Francis wisely called on us to “become light.”

With fear and anxiety mounting, we turn to the members of the Catholic University community for hope. These stories of inspiration demonstrate the wisdom of Pope Leo XIII and our founders: we are resilient; we rise to the occasion; we spread the faith.

These are only a sampling of the many great stories we could tell. We invite you to share additional stories publicly on social media with the hashtag #CUFoundersDay, and we encourage you to learn more about our crisis response fund at the bottom of this page.

Become light, and together, we will light the way.

Setting the standard for compassion and care

Nurses are at the front lines of a little-understood pandemic. Even with supplies dwindling, procedures changing, and patients scared and confused, they maintain order and morale. We applaud the Conway School of Nursing for preparing nurses even for this toughest of challenges.

Conway School of Nursing
The Catholic University of America

Before PPE became a household term, the Conway School of Nursing gathered personal protective equipment (PPE) from their nursing skills laboratory and delivered it to Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md.

“PPE is critical as healthcare providers care for those who have or are at risk of having COVID-19,” said Dean Patricia McMullen. “Given that our students are studying virtually, they will not be using these materials and we are, instead, working to ensure our colleagues in the field have much-needed equipment.”

Nursing students demonstrate new equipment

“To our friends and colleagues at Catholic University, we are grateful for your support of the Holy Cross workforce. As we share in the Catholic tradition, we are grateful for your stewardship of these important resources and your reverence for those who serve and those whom we serve.”

— Dr. Norvell Coots, president and CEO of Holy Cross Health (Silver Spring, Md.)

On this page, you may select a photo from any photo grid to reveal (or hide) a story from a University community member.

Keeping our faith

During times of uncertainty and isolation, we are prone to doubt. But these friends of Catholic University keep us united and faithful. Even now, we can hope. We can cherish our communities. We can be firm in our faith.

Rev. Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M. Conv.
University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry

No students on campus? No problem! Fr. Jude livestreams Daily Mass via the Campus Ministry Facebook page at 9 a.m. every morning, Praise and Adoration at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, and Sunday Mass at 6 p.m. on Sundays.

From his home or from a campus chapel, Fr. Jude continues to provide the spiritual guidance our campus community needs.

“This pandemic affords this present generation of alumni and students their moment to stand in the breach: ministering to the sick, the dying, and our most vulnerable; joining the search for vaccines and treatments; teaching our children and grandchildren to grow in Faith and Reason; and protecting the common good in every walk of life. This is who we are! These are the people from whom we come! This is and always has been what it means to be a member of The Catholic University of America!”

— Fr. Jude
Leadership and accountability

With a virus that spreads so quickly, every second counts. When our elected officials, journalists, and organizational leaders put the public first, they save lives and preserve the integrity of their communities.

Joseph St. George, B.A. 2011
Political Anchor, Fox (Denver, Colo.)
Member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors

Commonly known as the fourth branch of government, the press keeps the public informed. With some communities not yet requiring social distancing, Joe St. George interviewed Lucy Consler, B.A. 2011, an alumnus living in Spain, to make a plea directly to his viewers. Like others, he is protecting himself by working from home: “I typically only come to the studio if I have to for the story. Going live from home is common.” Despite the inconveniences, he continues to press for answers and inform the public.

“This is one of the biggest stories of my career and of each of our lives. I’m doing my part to hold leaders accountable — asking governors, senators, congressmen, and mayors if more can be done. Why isn’t there more testing? Why do results take so long? Where are the ventilators? Are hospitals ready? Will this stimulus actually go to people who are hurting?”

— Joe St. George, KDVR FOX31 (Denver, Colo.)
Undaunted faculty who inspire

Catholic University faculty stoically rose to the occasion. With creativity and selflessness, they have advanced research and continued to educate their students. Remarkably, they — with the head of the Technology Services team — made possible an impossible task: In a matter of days, they moved all classes online.

Venigalla Rao
Professor of Viruses and Bacteriophage Biology
School of Arts and Sciences

For more than 40 years — approximately ten years as a doctoral student and 30 years with Catholic University — Dr. Rao has examined how viruses themselves can be used to develop vaccines and cure diseases, including HIV or cancer. Now, he hopes his life’s work can be used to help lead to a possible coronavirus cure.

Catholic University is offering royalty-free licenses to the vaccine delivery-related patents resulting from the work of Dr. Rao to research teams hoping to curb the global pandemic.

Dr. Rao with biology researchers

“As a global Catholic research university faithful to the Church, this is what we do. Our fundamental discoveries and subsequent applications are not hindered by our ethics and respect for the human person, but accelerated in the right directions by them.”

— Aaron Dominguez, University Provost
Uplifting the community

We find ways to come together even as we're asked to stay apart. This togetherness makes us stronger and gives us the hope we need to weather this crisis. We're proud of how members of the Catholic University community unite others.

Gregory Gardner, B.M. 2015
Music Faculty, Camden Catholic High School (Cherry Hill, N.J.)

Gardner uses music to unite his community and develop leaders. Although written before COVID-19 struck the United States, his composition of “I Am With You Always” has become a perfect rallying song in this time of social distancing.

“I composed the music to ‘I Am With You Always’ at the beginning of this year as a recessional hymn for our students at the end of Mass. The verses largely come from Psalm 25, a prayer for guidance and deliverance, and the refrain is taken from Matthew 28:19-20, the end of which states: ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age.’

“The song has become an anthem for our students, an inspiring prayer for guidance and wisdom amid yearly challenges. The virtual choir was an opportunity to come together, lift our community, and show that we are resilient in this new challenge together.”

“Today, while we are social distancing, it’s easy to feel hopeless at a time of great suffering while stuck at home. However, now we find that greater opportunity to lead with mercy, while embracing the acts of mercy from others that we need ourselves.

“The role we can play is to share comfort and light in the lives of others: call a grandparent, teach someone through video calls, teach someone how to video call, sing, make music, tell stories, play games, share generously, and pray together. Amid the challenges we face each day, we are not alone.”

— Gregory Gardner



Crisis response fund: Initial goal of $300,000

For our students' safety and in the interest of public health, the University has made dramatic changes in how we fulfill our educational mission. Like most universities across the country, we have moved all instruction online for the remainder of the semester. As the situation around the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, we will continue to take proactive measures that preserve the highest quality of education.

We are humbled by the many members of our Catholic University community who have asked how they can help our students and the University to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic. In answer to your call, we have established the Light the Way Crisis Response Fund to help alleviate the hardship that our community is facing.

This fund will support a variety of needs, including — but not limited to — the following:

  • Time-sensitive student needs such as unexpected travel expenses, housing assistance, food expenses, extra medical costs, and technology needs for remote instruction
  • One-time emergency tuition assistance for the 2020-2021 academic year for students undergoing significant financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 and at risk for being able to continue their studies
  • Increased costs to develop a fully integrated online instructional model

While there is no way yet to calculate the full impact of the pandemic on the Catholic University community, our initial goal is to raise $300,000 for this urgent need. President and Mrs. Garvey have already given $50,000 to aid our collective effort. Please consider joining them in supporting Catholic University and our students during this unprecedented time.

Give now


God is our light

Throughout the world, in actions large and small, the members of the Catholic University community are heroes. The people above and the thousands of others are serving on the frontlines helping the sick; spreading the faith; supporting those facing hardship; and giving hope and comfort to our neighbors, classes, families, and friends.

While we pray for you during this time of uncertainty and crisis, we are grounded in truths: You will solve problems and enrich culture; you will conduct yourself with excellence; and you will be the light that this world needs.