Dr. Jennifer Owens-Jofré has been appointed the new director of Latino/Hispanic Studies at Seminary of the Southwest, following a meeting of the Board of Trustees on May 21, 2019.
“We welcome Dr. Jennifer Owens-Jofré into the position of professor and director of Latino/Hispanic Studies,” said Dr. Scott Bader-Saye, academic dean. “Her training and experience will inject new life and vision into an already robust program. We are committed to becoming the primary resource in The Episcopal Church for nurturing leadership in Latinx ministry. Jennifer is well-prepared to lead us into this vision. She holds an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She brings a mujerista focus to her theological work, and in her dissertation, she focused on the significance of la Virgen de Guadalupe for women in times of suffering. Serving as a lay ecclesial minister, Jen has worked with young-adult ministries and observed the power of Christian base communities. We look forward to working alongside her as we continue to develop our concentrations in Latino/Hispanic ministry and Latino/Hispanic counseling.”
As director of Latino/Hispanic Studies, Owens-Jofré will oversee the Master of Divinity with Latino/Hispanic Studies concentration and other initiatives to increase the awareness and understanding of Latino/Hispanic communities throughout the church. Students in the concentration gain cultural competency while acquiring skills and sensibilities for the practice of ministry in Latino/Hispanic communities.
Owens-Jofré is a Latina Catholic theologian. Her academic writing has appeared in the International Journal of Practical Theology, and she co-edited From the Pews in the Back: Young Women and Catholicism, which Liturgical Press published in 2009. Other popular pieces can be found online at Patheos, God’s Politics, and Busted Halo. With ministerial experience in Catholic contexts across the United States, she also offers professional development opportunities for those in ministry. She recently served as visiting assistant professor of constructive theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a placement through the Louisville Institute’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.
“I am very much looking forward to the work I have the privilege to do here at Seminary of the Southwest,” Owens-Jofré said. “Whether it is in developing courses for the Latino Studies concentration, fostering relationships between local Latino-serving Episcopal churches and the seminary, or building new ones, I hope to explore intersections between church, academy, and society in ways that enable our seminary community to continue to grow in service to the vision and values of the Jesus movement.”
During the extensive search for a director, the Rev. Al Rodriguez served as interim director of the Latino/Hispanic Studies program at Southwest. Rodriguez is a 1996 graduate of Southwest and served primarily in parish ministry, culminating with fifteen years as rector of St John’s Episcopal Church in Austin.
“I am delighted with the selection of Dr. Jennifer Owens-Jofré as the incoming professor and director of the Latino/Hispanic Studies at Southwest,” Rodriguez said. “Jennifer possesses the broad academic background in Latin-American history, including the base knowledge of the popular religious patterns of Latinos in Latin America and in this country. This will hold her in good stead in addressing the topic areas needed for seminarian formation in Latino ministry. During her interviews, she exhibited herself as a strong Latina and outlined a very realistic approach as to how she would begin to get to know the Latinx constituencies in this and other dioceses, including the national Latinx networks. I expect her to be a very credible ambassador from Seminary of the Southwest to these networks, especially in her ability to relate to the broad variety of multigenerational and multilingual Episcopal Latinos.”
The Rev. Canon Anthony Guillén, missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministries and director of ethnic ministries for The Episcopal Church, said he looks forward to the next period of leadership for this important program. “I am very pleased with the appointment of Dr. Jennifer Owens-Jofré as professor and director of the Latino/Hispanic Studies in this new chapter of Latino studies at Southwest. I believe that one of Jen’s strengths will be able to integrate her Latino congregational experience in Los Angeles with her academic training in the classroom. I look forward to supporting her in her new role as part of her advisory council.”