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Pathways Profiles: The Rev. Isaías A. Rodríguez

May 22, 2024

Every Hispanic clergy person in The Diocese of Atlanta can be traced to Isaías A. Rodríguez, because he recruited them. For 40 years here, he has worked to bring Spanish- speaking experts, resources and most of all worshippers to The Episcopal Church. His impact is so iconic that The Rev. Fabio Sotelo, priest in charge of St. Edwards, says, “He is our Abraham.”

Rodríguez’s exuberant leadership and writing is marked by sacrifice and displacement. Born in Spain at the end of its civil war, Rodríguez soon lost his mother, and Catholic relatives raised him in poverty. He entered the religious order founded by Teresa of Ávila, which led to university teaching. He moved to Dallas, worked for the Catholic diocese and published the first of eight books. In 1983, he entered The Episcopal Church in Atlanta.

“I found myself in a Sahara desert,” he said. “I had to do everything I had not done before.” Working at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Rodríguez formed a center to help with employment, immigration and other issues, and established a soccer league. “All these were extra activities for getting people to come to church,” he noted.

His provocative publications raised awareness of this community with The Episcopal Church, and he was named to churchwide collaborations and appointments. Rodríguez created and wrote History of the Hispanic Ministry in the Episcopal Church (2015) about the achievements, frustrations and hopes of the Hispanic ministry that began timidly in 1970s.

While serving as The Rev. Daniel Caballero National Missioner, Rodríguez created badly needed resources such as devotionals and texts about church history and paths to priesthood for Hispanic ministries churchwide. His Introduction to the Liturgy (2005) is a textbook used in some seminaries. He was co-director and writer of the national magazine Caminos; editor and writer of Spanish resources for Forward Movement for seven years; and editor of Sermones que iluminan, a version of the series Sermons that Work.

In 1998, Rodríguez became the diocesan Hispanic Missioner, and congregations that he planted flourished: Santa María- East Point, Christ Church-Norcross, El Buen Pastor, San Eduardo and many more. He then recruited Spanish- speaking clergy to lead them. He helped create the Center for Theological Education for Latinos (CETLA), and its graduates include The Rev. Irma Guerra, his successor as Hispanic Missioner. Today Rodríguez continues to lead Iglesia Santa María-East Point, amid recognition as a pillar of the Hispanic ministry churchwide.

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