Faculty Report: Eppler, Cobb & Rodriguez Visit Mexico

Written by Kristina Alvarado
January 21, 2015

Faculty within Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry are committed to ongoing learning experiences that inspire their work within their field(s), as well as with students, community members and partners. Each month in the?news section?of the school?s website, we report on ?faculty highlights??studies, publications, community engagement, and travels.

This past month, three faculty contributors to the school's Relationship & Pastoral Therapy degree?a couples and family therapy program?traveled to Cuernavaca, Mexico, a trip funded by a special grant from Seattle University?s Office of Mission & Ministry. In addition to serving as core faculty member, Dr. Eppler is serving as Interim Program Director for the school?s MA in Relationship & Pastoral Therapy program; Dr. Cobb is the program's clinical coordinator and?lecturer; and Dr. Rodriguez teaches several of the required courses, including Relationship and Pastoral Therapy in a Multicultural Context. We sat down with Drs. Cobb, Eppler, and Rodriguez this month who shared how their experience with individuals, groups, and gatherings throughout the trip helped them tap into the rich culture and traditions of Mexico and Latin America.

During the trip, Drs. Cobb, Eppler, and Rodriguez stayed at the Guadalupe Center. The Center houses the kind, caring, feisty, and dedicated Benedictine Sisters, an order whose community embodies a beautiful charism of hospitality. The team shared that: ?During our time together, we were able to listen to stories of hope and resilience from the Benedictine Sisters, as well as families who live and work in Mexico and other areas within Latin America. It was an incredible opportunity to have the Sisters and community members as our teachers. We bore witness to the devotion and dedication of their faith and love. We were able to see how aspects of community and context are important to relationships and it was special to share these experiences as faculty members together in couples and family therapy.?

Some additional highlights of the trip included listening sessions with women who have built small business collectives that focus on embroidering and selling goods to assist families in education and care. Eppler, Cobb, and Rodriguez explored an artist community where homemade arts and crafts were sold, and afterward climbed up a hill to participate in an indigenous ritual where, as they recalled, ?you could feel the spirit of the earth.? The women awoke the next morning to attend the Mass of the Immaculate Conception for communion and blessings and traveled to the Federal District (Mexico City) to witness the devotion of pilgrims paying homage to Our Lady of Guadalupe?some of whom walked fourteen hours to reach the basilica.

The team concludes: "We have taken these experiences home with us and we have already begun to use them to inform our work as university instructors. In a sense, the voices from afar will help us to teach our students. We are grateful to Father Peter Ely who granted funds for this experience."

Additionally, Drs. Cobb and Eppler are grateful to Dr. Rodriguez for organizing and hosting the event. Her work in liberation theology and relationship and pastoral practices afforded participants a holistic and lived understanding of community faith practices.

Learn about other trips taken through the school?s Interreligious Initiative,?including Dr. Eppler?s trip to the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Dubai,?here.