After earning a Master of Divinity degree from Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology (SMU-Perkins), Jose completed a clinical pastoral education program at Parkland Health System in Dallas. He's working as an assistant in SMU's Center for Latino Christianity while preparing to begin a Ph.D. program in religious studies at the University of Texas this fall.
What was your experience like during graduate school?
I worked in the office of the chaplain and religious life at SMU-Perkins. I developed 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 a master’s program and preparing to go on to earn my doctoral degree with a focus on the religions of Latin America, I am blessed to be enabling others to achieve the same.
You chose to live in intentional community. What was that like?
I was connected with the Epworth Project, which is part of the Missional Wisdom Foundation in Dallas. The project focused 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 lived in the Oscar Romero House. The members sought to be intentional with one’s self, other members of the house, and the immediate neighborhood. My role in the house was steward: I was responsible for bringing all the members of the house together for prayer, house meetings and other events. I also communicated 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 to 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.