As a full-time student at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology (SMU-Perkins), Jose balances hard work in the classroom with building intentional community in the home he shares with his wife and housemates. After completing a Master of Divinity degree, he plans on taking a year to complete a clinical pastoral education program before pursuing a Ph.D. in the history of Latin American religions.
Besides working toward your Master of Divinity degree, what else have you been doing?
I work in the office of the chaplain and religious life at SMU-Perkins. I’m developing a college preparation program for the Hispanic-Latino community that can be used by churches around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The lack of Latinos enrolled in post-secondary education is quite an issue in this area. Having already graduated from college and now finishing a master’s program, I am blessed to be enabling others to achieve the same.
You chose to live in intentional community. What is that like?
I am connected with the Epworth Project, which is part of the Missional Wisdom Foundation in Dallas. The project focuses on Christian ministry through living in intentional communities. There are seven houses in the area that serve this purpose. My wife, Alli ’11, and I live in the Oscar Romero House. The members seek to be intentional with one’s self, other members of the house, and the immediate neighborhood. My role in the house is steward: I am responsible for bringing all the members of the house together for prayer, house meetings and other events. I also communicate the spiritual and structural health of the house to our abbot.
What appealed to you about that way of life?
The main factor that drew us to this organization was the presence of Christian ministry outside the walls of the church building. Both Alli and I have worked in many churches and have seen a growing trend for people to care more about what goes on inside the church than about the development of the community. The Missional Wisdom Foundation’s mission statement is based on the hope that people who live in the new monastic communities will eventually choose to live in these intentional communities in the future. This is definitely something Alli and I are hoping to continue.
How did Northwestern help you to reach your goals?
By the time I was a senior in college, I knew I wanted to continue my theological education. Northwestern certainly prepared me for seminary. Once I arrived at SMU, I was already ahead of the learning curve compared to many of my colleagues. Recently I went on a leadership retreat during which participants were asked write down all the people who have been a shaping influence in our lives. Half of my list was made up of NWC faculty and staff.
What did you appreciate most about Northwestern’s religion department?
I could ask difficult questions and expect honest answers. In my experience, it was easier for me to ask my professors questions about spirituality and the Bible because they were honest about the ambiguities of life. Even if I did not agree with their answers, at least they were willing to participate in genuine conversation.