Faculty Stories

Dr. Rodolfo R. Nolasco Jr. Named Rueben P. Job Professor of Spiritual Formation and Pastoral Theology

Dr. Rolf Nolasco
Dr. Rolf Nolasco

Dr. Rodolfo R. Nolasco Jr. has been appointed the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation and Pastoral Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and Director of the Rueben P. Job Institute for Spirituality and Spiritual Formation, effective July 1, 2021. Nolasco is an experienced professor, trained in pastoral and counseling psychology, mindfulness and contemplative spirituality, and affective neuroscience. He is the second to hold the endowed chair after the retirement of Rev. Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt in December 2020.

Established in January 2013, Garrett-Evangelical is among the first Protestant seminaries in North America to endow a chair in spiritual formation. The endowed chair is named in honor of Garrett-Evangelical’s distinguished alumnus Rueben P. Job, retired bishop of The United Methodist Church. The endowed chair serves as a lasting legacy to Bishop Job’s lifelong commitment to spiritual formation and will ensure that Garrett-Evangelical continues to prepare well-formed spiritual leaders for many generations.

Garrett-Evangelical president, Javier A. Viera, said of the appointment, “Professor Nolasco is the ideal person at this time to lead the Job Institute and to assume the Job Chair. For years now, his research has explored the intersection of various related fields, such as pastoral care and counseling, spirituality, spiritual formation, trauma studies, queer studies, and others. Rolf has a unique gift and talent in bringing these distinct areas of inquiry into dialogue and alignment, and his research is a gift to the Church as we seek to embody the fullness of God’s grace and care for all of God’s people and for the earth. I look forward to how Rolf will build on the visionary work of Dr. Fred Schmidt, and how the Institute will advance contemplative practices, healing, and foster a hunger for authentic experiences of God in our increasingly polarized world.”

Nolasco joined the faculty of Garrett-Evangelical in 2018, serving as professor of pastoral theology and director of the master of arts in pastoral care and counseling. As the Rueben P. Job Professor of Spiritual Formation and Pastoral Theology, Nolasco will serve as the director of the Rueben Job Institute at Garrett-Evangelical in addition to his teaching responsibilities, an institute that will lead the seminary’s research and programs in Christian spirituality, spiritual formation and direction, pilgrimage, and ecumenical, interreligious, and ecological studies in spirituality.

Reflecting upon this appointment Nolasco said, “I am profoundly humbled by this opportunity to embody, extend, and expand on Bishop Rueben P. Job’s legacy as a spiritual guide to sojourners in the faith–a journey though often perilous, unpredictable, and with a lot of detours is sustained and held by the faithful accompaniment of the Triune God. As a perennial student of contemplation, I take this appointment as an opportunity to live more fully into and invite others to a life of interiority that often bears fruits of radical hospitality and social activism. As a queer faculty of color, to be named to the Job Chair and Director of the Institute for Spirituality and Spiritual Formation also exhibits not only Garrett’s commitment to LGBTQIA2S+ inclusivity but to the flourishing of queer folks in their midst. In a way, this appointment underscores the inescapable fact that queer bodies do serve as icons, too, like everyone else, portals to the divine life that is in Jesus Christ.”

As a psychotherapist with international reach, Nolasco has vast experience in cross-cultural communications from living and working across the world within varying social and cultural backgrounds. He holds a doctor of theology degree from Boston University in pastoral psychology, a master of divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a bachelor of arts degree from University of the Philippines in the College of Mass Communications (cum laude).

Nolasco is the author of The Contemplative Counselor: A Way of Being (Fortress Press, 2011) and Compassionate Presence: A Radical Response to Human Suffering (Cascade Books, 2016), which seeks to affirm compassion as the pulsating heartbeat of Christian theology and praxis through the hermeneutical perspectives of brain science, psychology, and practical theology. His latest book is God’s Beloved Queer (Wipf and Stock, 2019). Nolasco is also currently working on Heart Ablaze: Awakening the Queer Spirit (Church Publishing, forthcoming), and Depression, Dark Night of the Soul, and Joy (Cascade Books, forthcoming).

Since joining the faculty of Garrett-Evangelical, Nolasco was awarded a project grant from the Louisville Institute, selected to participate in the Wabash Center’s new digital salons, and invited to participate in the inaugural Wabash Center/Collegeville Institute workshop. In 2019, he was awarded Exemplary Teacher by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.