The American Latino Episcopal Outreach (ALEO) is a project initiated by the Rev. Al Rodriguez, an assistant to Dr. Paul Barton and part of the adjunct faculty teaching in Seminary of the Southwest’s Hispanic Church Studies program. The ALEO project is funded through a Fellowship grant awarded to Al Rodriguez by the New York-based Episcopal Church Foundation.
The ALEO project is driven by the urgency of the dramatic demographic, linguistic and cultural shifts that are taking place in the multi-generation Latino population, which represents two-thirds of the Latinos in this country, and is multi-generational, multi-racial and socio-economically diverse. Regrettably these multi-generation Latinos are not usually involved, or attracted to, the traditional Hispanic ministries. Neither are they on the evangelistic radar screen of most English-speaking congregations and diocesan offices.
ALEO objective is to teach the ministry dynamics necessary to evangelize acculturated, bilingual and English-dominant, American-born Latinos, and those who have been virtually raised in the United States. The ALEO mission is to shed light on these multi-generational Latinos that represent a demographic segment that has different worship, spiritual, linguistic, and cultural characteristics. It aims to complement the traditional Hispanic/Latino model, as carried out in the Episcopal Church and other mainline denominations, which historically have focused primarily on the immigrant and predominantly Spanish-speaking, first generation Latinos.
The Rev. Rodriguez’ 25 years of ministry working in traditional Hispanic ministry and his experience as rector of a dual language parish, plus his personal journey as a third-generation, Mexican American have given him the background for conceptualizing this vital and emerging plank in Latino ministry. The ALEO project intends to provide training modules, how-to resources and experimental worship models aimed at increasing the cross-cultural competence of seminarians and clergy called to this emerging ministry. Moreover the ALEO vision is for the church to understand that Latino ministry is multi-faceted, and now has to be tailored to realistically address the various Latino acculturation and linguistic levels and population segments that make up this very complex Latino population.