Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Enrique Samson
Nearly 60 Hispanic ministry leaders graduated from the University of Dallas Certificate in Pastoral Ministry program April 30. Holy Spirit Church in Atlanta hosted the liturgy of commissioning and ceremony with a reception afterward. 


University of Dallas program equips Hispanic ministry leaders 

By GEORGIA BULLETIN STAFF | Published May 12, 2022  | En Español

ATLANTA—Holy Spirit Church hosted the Liturgy of Commissioning and a graduation ceremony for the Certificado en Ministerio Pastoral (Certificate in Pastoral Ministry) program on April 30. Eight archdiocesan pastors concelebrated Mass and more than 400 people attended the ceremonies. 

The Ann and Joe O. Neuhoff Institute for Ministry and Evangelization of the University of Dallas grants the certificates, and the program is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Atlanta through the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship.  

Some 59 Hispanic leaders, representing 29 different parishes, received the certificate after three years of study. They now join 184 previous Atlanta graduates serving more than 60% of the parishes in the archdiocese.   

The archdiocese launched the program in 2013 after planning with the University of Dallas (UD) to design an online version fully in Spanish, with expert instructors, as an alternative to the on-site program offered by UD since 2009. Pastors nominate candidates to receive an archdiocesan partial scholarship, to be equipped and accompanied to serve the Spanish-speaking communities at their parishes. Most students serve in the areas of evangelization and catechesis, RCIA, youth ministry and marriage ministry. 

“My life is no longer the same on a personal, family and parish level,” said graduate Juan Mendez, St. Pius X Church, Conyers. “Now I see that formation opens our eyes to live a more authentic faith and to serve with a more humble heart.” 

The Certificado program has helped to consolidate a solid partnership between the archdiocese, the parish and the student. There are great testimonies, from both pastors and students, who have received the fruits of accompaniment, excellent academic formation and community.   

There is also a special spiritual component to the program in the form of retreats, talks, spiritual readings and one-on-one ministry. The program received recognition from the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership in 2017 for its evangelizing and catechetical richness and for the novelty in establishing virtual accompaniment and community. 

This graduating class proved the effectiveness of an online education, especially during the pandemic. Students networked with each other and exchanged resources and experiences between their parishes as they stayed connected to the parish and to the archdiocese, all while receiving evangelization, catechetical and ministry formation through a virtual format. Some students had to travel to their countries of origin to take care of family, and they were able to continue without interruption.   

A new cohort is forming. The Office of Evangelization and Discipleship is receiving pastor nominations and registering students until the end of May. At least 40-50 new candidates will start classes next August with the hope of graduating in the spring of 2025.   

For those interested in taking the program, the best route is to first ensure they are serving their parish, that they are committed to three years of study and that their pastor would nominate them to be part of the new cohort. 

Editor’s Note: Pastors are encouraged to consider this opportunity for their leaders. For more information, contact Monica Oppermann at