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Pursuing Her Vocation, Ministry Alumna Found UD
Debra Ricard, MPM ’20, already had a master’s degree when she decided to enter the master’s program at UD. With a B.A. in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s in architecture from the Catholic University of America, Ricard still did not feel she had found her vocation.

After years of working as a marriage counselor, Ricard felt called to the world of pastoral ministry. In the Archdiocese of Seattle, Ricard was a Christifideles candidate and, as such, had to complete graduate work. 

Living in Seattle, Washington, Ricard was first attracted to UD’s Neuhoff School of Ministry for its online capabilities. However, it became clear that UD had more to offer than convenience; the university provided, in her words, a “strong doctrinal foundation married with pastorally focused programs.”

Like many others, Ricard felt her learning was enriched by the small class sizes and, partially as a result, attentive professors. Indeed, this has become her favorite thing about UD. 

”The best thing at UD is by far the small size and specialized pastoral care course offerings with excellent professors nationwide,” she said.

Although she can’t study alongside her classmates physically, Ricard has also expressed an appreciation for her fellow students at UD. Being in an environment that has so many faith-focused people was inspirational to Ricard. 

“Studying alongside those in diaconate formation, priests and religious sisters, doctors, lawyers, and diverse students has made me truly and abundantly blessed,” she said.

While COVID-19 did interrupt the spring semester, as it did for everyone, thankfully her academics were not heavily impacted. By the time COVID-19 hit hard, Ricard was already done with her capstone project, and her classes, which were never in person, changed little. 

In some ways, Ricard even found that COVID-19 enriched her experience. Of her last class, Theological Reflections with Professor Marti Jewell, Ricard says, “The course content was exceptional and intensely profound given the nature of our country’s shelter-in-place, an unprecedented time in history.”

Having now graduated, Ricard has many plans. First and foremost, she plans on continuing her role as a marriage counselor, both at the parish and archdiocesan levels; her newest goals are to implement and design retreats as well as to publish some collaborative work. In addition, Ricard anticipates that her role as membership engagement director for St. Luke in Shoreline, Washington, will change, and feels her UD education has prepared her for any additional responsibilities. Finally, upon completion of her graduate work, Ricard was appointed as a lay ecclesial minister by Archbishop Paul Etienne of the Archdiocese of Seattle on June 27, 2020. Ricard is especially grateful for her graduate program at UD for enabling opportunities such as these.

 
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