This past March 25, 2021, the Evangelical University of the Americas in San Jose, Costa Rica, held a special graduation at their main campus. Unable to wear their regalia and with only one invited guest per graduate due to strict health codes, the graduates gathered in 15-minute segments to receive their diplomas and take photos. SENDAS professors Ruben Fernandez and Monica Mastronardi de Fernandez received their Doctor of Theology degrees with an Emphasis in Ecclesiology (ThD). This diploma is an academic research degree, equivalent to a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). Professors of the program are among the most notable scholars and authors in the Latin America Evangelical Church, with PhD’s from well-known institutions in Europe and the United States. The seminary president, Dr. Enrique Guang, remarked, “SENDAS professors Ruben Fernandez and Monica Mastronardi Fernandez received their Doctor in Theology degrees with an emphasis in Ecclesiology (ThD) and are the first married couple to graduate with doctorate degrees in the history of the university.”
The Fernandezes previously obtained Doctor of Ministry degrees (DMin) from Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Kansas, USA in 2005. In February of 2008 they began the process of obtaining a second doctorate known as PRODOLA (Latin America Doctoral Program) which concluded with a successful defense of their theses in September of 2020.
The research subject of Professor Monica was “Factors that contribute to or hinder young people in the 21st century becoming involved in their professional vocation as collaborators in the mission of God. The case of youth in the Church of the Nazarene in Ipis, Costa Rica.”
The research subject for Professor Ruben was “Principles and practices for the development and multiplication of leaders in the Wesleyan movement: a reading from Mesoamerica.”
The Fernandezes say, “We are extremely grateful to God first, for having given us the strength to achieve this goal. We also thank the professors and advisors of the program and our colleagues coming from an incredible variety of denominational and independent backgrounds. We learned so much from all of them. We also appreciate the help of the SENDAS staff and Dr. L. Carlos Saenz, president of the Board of Trustees and Mesoamerica regional director; to Dr. Charles Van Engen and all the personnel of PRODOLA for believing in us and continual encouragement. We also thank the Department of Global Mission, specifically Dr. Verne Ward and Rev. Kevin Brunk, and the administrative committee for the HF Reynolds Scholarship for their confidence and financial support. Finally, to those who in one way or another contributed to this long process, we offer our deepest thanks. This achievement would not have been possible without them.”
The Board of Trustees, faculty and personnel of Nazarene Seminary of the Americas, a masters-level institution of the Church of the Nazarene, recognizes the importance of having professors with academic doctoral degrees. We congratulate the Fernandez couple for this new achievement and predict fruitful teaching ministries for both of them in our institution for years to come.
Rev. Carol Rittenhouse, SENDAS Public Relations
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