Queer Spirituality: An interview with Alejandro Rodriguez, director of Spirituality Network
Ministering with communities vs. to Them
How does someone who works for corporate America in a Fortune 100 company, leave that job and become the executive director for a non-profit that focuses on social justice issues?
On this podcast episode, I had the honor of interviewing Alejandro Rodriguez, executive director of the Spirituality Network, a non-profit that connects people with “resources for spiritual growth and depth, regardless of faith tradition—through education and training, spiritual direction for individuals and groups, and community programs and events.”
Alejandro shares his journey from conservative Christianity to progressive Christianity and reconciling who he was with his faith.
His story will inspire you and will resonate with those who are deconstructing and looking for a path forward.
We also discussed the programs Spirituality Network offers, from Queer Spirituality events to the programs that help people on their spiritual journey. You’ll also learn about their spiritual direction training and why this type of training is so crucial for those who are in any role of spiritual care.
Spirituality Network is the best-kept secret, or so Alejandro Rodriguez’s pastor says. Its 36 years of spiritual work just might prove him right.
I loved sharing the time and energy with someone as special as Alejandro, who has spent years working to assist others along their spiritual journey.
Speaking with Alejandro enlightened me about how one program can reach and bless many. While he’s only been the Executive Director of Spirituality Network since 2021, he became aware of them as far back as 2000.
It was founded by a group of Dominican Sisters and had its roots in Catholicism, but it was not long before they took a long, hard look at what the network truly meant and how it could best serve the community, including those of all faith or no faith at all.
Spirituality Network trains spiritual directors to go out and do further good in the world, but they also have created meaningful programs such as Women to Women that reach out to marginalized women. They also have their Jedi program, which is Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Just before the pandemic, when the 1619 project came out, you might recall the recognition of 400 years of slavery; Spirituality Network honored that with a beautiful event that talked about the black experience. They have also done one for Muslim spirituality and Hindu religions.
Alejandro arrived in America from Cuba when he was four. Not knowing any English, he felt like an outsider. To set him even further apart was growing up in the LGBTQ+ community. This experience has been a driving force behind his spiritual diversity and inclusion goals. That no matter what walk of life you come from, you can belong.
He found that at Spirituality Network, he could feed his spiritual needs while offering spiritual care, companionship, and guidance to everyone that went far beyond any biblical counseling.
But when bringing in directors and counselors who have been taught from the literal interpretation of the Bible, they have to be willing to set that aside and trust in their hearts, mind, and soul. There has to be a deconstruction. He recognizes that it can be difficult, but that deconstruction of faith actually opens your views of God and expands your relationship with God and the entire universe. You just have to be prepared to go through a little discomfort first.
This is why it is so important to have a community that is going through the same process as you. Who have traveled the same road. It is reaffirming to know that you are not alone and that you can come out the other side of the deconstruction and heal from the trauma. That you can have a stronger connection than before. To be supported as you experience what serves your highest good, whatever that looks like to you.
For him, it was learning that all things were connected, including spirituality and sexuality. That unlike with traditional religion you could celebrate who you are and still be spiritual.
It is important to have that safe space, especially if you are in a marginalized community like LGBTQIA+ who experience their own trauma. Spirituality Network hosts inclusion events on a quarterly basis, helping to create an understanding and build allies.
With all the beneficial programs Spirituality Network enacts, it is important for them to always minister with people and not to them. They want to allow people their dignity and to stand on their own merits and only lend their support.
LGBTQ+, Muslim, Hindu, women it does not matter spirituality and Spirituality Network welcomes everyone.
You can read the transcript for this episode of Spirituality Matters here.
You can listen to Spirituality Matters with Rev Karla by clicking here.
If you’d like to watch my interview with Alejandro, click here.