Denver Catholic Register - December 9, 2009
Centro San Juan Diego offers distance-learning bachelor’s degree through Mexican university.
By Rossana Goni
In a unique collaboration, Centro San Juan Diego together with Anáhuac University of Mexico City has initiated a distance-learning program though which Spanish-speaking students may earn a bachelor’s degree in religion.
Centro San Juan Diego is the Denver Archdiocese’s Hispanic institute offering pastoral and family care to Spanish speakers. Administrators said the distance-learning program responds to one of the most pressing needs in the Hispanic Catholic community: faith formation. The program will enable graduates to become leaders with a solid understanding of the truths of the Catholic faith and the confidence to share that knowledge with the faithful of northern Colorado, particularly Hispanic Catholics.
Alfonso Lara, director of formation and catechesis at Centro San Juan Diego, is in charge of the new program. It was prompted, Lara said, by a need for Spanish-speaking ministry leaders with higher education.
“Especially,” he said, “for those who see themselves working and developing their careers around the Catholic Church.”
The program, Lara said, is a dream made reality.
“We discussed the possibility with a few universities in various foreign countries and in the process we discovered Anáhuac University, which is one of the best private universities in Mexico,” Lara said. “Anáhuac University is faithful to the Church and the teachings of the magisterium.”
Lara said the program will have both online and classroom components.
“The students will meet periodically in our virtual classroom at Centro San Juan Diego,” he said, “and they will receive instruction with a professor from Mexico or another part of the world.”
The distance learning opportunity, Lara said, is a five-year program.
“(It) is available to all Catholics who have the intention of committing to a program of higher education,” he said, “and have the capacities and legal requisites to obtain a degree offered by the educational authorities in Mexico.”
Expressing enthusiasm over the program’s first 15 students, Lara said the Hispanic Catholic community will benefit greatly from them.
“We are preparing the next generation of leaders, and we are doing it with the best we have, both in our backyard and on an international level,” he said. “I should also mention that the students will not only be receiving instruction from the professors of Mexico’s Anáhuac University, they will be instructed by local priests who have academic preparation and teaching experience of the highest level.”
Colorado Springs resident Octavio Pérez, who was born in Mexico City, said it’s important for Hispanic ministry to respond to the needs of those eager to work in evangelization. Pérez said he believes the program will draw those who have an apostolate to service “that reflects the love of God for the immigrant community.”
“I am ready to prepare myself to give a greater service to my community,” he added.
Lara said the leaders of Centro San Juan Diego are grateful to all who have made the distance-learning bachelor’s degree a reality.
For more information about the program, contact Lara at 303-295-9470 Ext. 111.
Translated by Katherine Haas.