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Arelis Benítez

Assistant Professor of the Practice of Religion, Psychology, and Culture and Director of Field Education
Director of Field Education 

Dr. Arelis Benítez is the Assistant Professor of the Practice of Religion, Psychology, and Culture, and Director of Field Education at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Prior to joining Vanderbilt faculty, she served as an instructor at Loma Linda University School of Religion where she was Director of the Master of Science in Chaplaincy program and the former Lead Chaplain at Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta where she developed a volunteer chaplaincy program. 

Her research interests center Chicana feminist perspectives on spirituality and Mesoamerican thought. Through this lens, she proposes alternative philosophies that redefine approaches to social, psychological, and spiritual-religious transformation in pastoral theology. As a pastoral theologian, she anchors her methodological approaches in the works of Gloria Anzaldúa towards the inclusion of Latinx communities and development of Latinx spiritual care responses. Grounded in her own social location, her dissertation, Im/migration and Sexual Identity Reconstruction: Parallels of Pain and Reexistence in Pastoral Theology, explores parallels of suffering and healing in sexual identity (re)construction and migration narratives within the Latinx LGBTQ+ community.

 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. Currently, she also serves as a member of the CPE Professional Advisory Group at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.