Arelis (Aly) Benítez
Director of Field Education and Assistant Professor of the Practice of Religion, Psychology, and Culture, Vanderbilt University
Field of Study: Practical Theology
A first-generation daughter of Mexican migrant parents, Dr. Benítez is well acquainted with survival narratives, loss, and marginalization and turns to theological studies for pastoral care responses to human suffering. Clinically trained as a healthcare chaplain, she integrates over a decade of experiences in pastoral ministry with vocational commitments to social justice that extend beyond the academy and into the public and private spheres. As a Latina pastoral theologian, she anchors her methodological approaches in Chicana Feminist Thought and the works of Gloria Anzaldúa, as a key figure, towards the inclusion of Latinx communities and development of Latinx pastoral care responses within and outside the discipline of pastoral theology. Grounded in her own identities and autohistoria-teoría, Arelis explores parallels of suffering and healing in sexual identity (re)construction and migration narratives within the Latinx LGBTQ+ community. Her work critically analyzes and tends to the spiritual and psychological impact of both experiences. Her dissertation title was “Im/migration and Sexual Identity Reconstruction: Parallels of Pain and Reexistence in Pastoral Theology”.