In 2012, the Office of Formation and Discipleship requested from the now University of Dallas Neuhoff Institute for Ministry and Evangelization, formerly School of Ministry, the creation of an online version of its prestigious, three-year course in Spanish in pastoral theology, with the objective of forming Spanish-speaking parish leaders that support the evangelizing, catechetical and pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Atlanta parishes. Three different cohorts of 186 parish leaders completed the studies and successfully graduated to serve their parishes in 2016, 2017 and 2019, respectively.
In an effort to update and respond to the current needs of the Church, the University intensified the ministerial areas of the program with a new curriculum. The now Certificate in Pastoral Ministry offers the same theological foundation, with a renewed emphasis on evangelization, youth ministry, and marriage and family ministry, in 18 courses, offered in 6 semesters. The program follows the same fully on-line format and professional engagement and attention to students. Currently there are 62 students enrolled in the program, expected to graduate in May 2022.
The Archdiocese’s efforts have been supported and recognized by Atlanta pastors, religious and parish leaders, and at the national level by the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL – now known as Word and Witness), who awarded the Archdiocese the 2017 Diocesan New Wineskins Award, acknowledging the effectiveness and the evangelizing and catechetical contribution of this initiative.
A new cohort is expected to be formed for the fall of 2022. The same pastor-nomination method will be followed by the Office of Formation and Discipleship to invite candidates to apply to the program and to receive archdiocesan partial scholarships.