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Pro-life certificate program graduates first class

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SAN DIEGO — A new diocesan certificate program for pro-life ministry is graduating its first students.

Eight students recently completed the 120 classroom hours and 30 hours of supervised, hands-on experience required to earn a Tessera in Culture of Life through the Diocesan Institute.

“The word ‘Tessera’ means ‘entry pass’ and ‘mosaic tile’ in Italian,” explained Gerardo Rojas, director of the institute. “Similar to how an associate’s degree relates to a bachelor’s degree, the courses included in the Tessera program form part of the required courses that are needed for our certificate programs.”

The Tessera is a level of study that represents the halfway mark toward advanced certification.

The Tessera in Culture of Life consists of five required courses, which are offered in both English and Spanish: Christian Anthropology (15 hours), Intro to Christian Morality (30 hours), Biomedical Ethics (15 hours), Catechism of the Catholic Church (15 hours) and Principles of Catholic Social Teaching (15 hours). There is also a practical skills component (30 hours) that provides students with firsthand experience in sidewalk counseling, post-abortion grief support, or another aspect of pro-life ministry.

This initial cohort of students took its first course toward the Tessera in January 2020. They had to put their studies on hold from March through October 2020, when classes were suspended in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. They completed their final class last November.

In thanksgiving for their completion of the program, the students will gather on Sunday, Jan. 30, at Our Lady of Angels Parish for a Spanish-language Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano.

The Tessera in Culture of Life is the second certificate of its kind to be offered by the Diocesan Institute. It follows the Tessera in Catechetical Ministry, which was introduced in 2019.

Maria Valencia, who has overseen culture of life ministry for the Diocese of San Diego since 2018, said the program responds to requests for further formation on that issue. Many of the students are already active leaders in the pro-life movement, Valencia said, but the program is designed to make them more effective by providing a solid grounding in Catholic theology and Catholic social teaching.

The goal, she explained, is to equip students to better explain their beliefs about the sanctity of human life and their actions in support of that cause.

“Providing those resources, they will feel … more confidence  to share the message.”

For more information, call (858) 490-8323 or email mvalencia@sdcatholic.org.

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