Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


New young adult leader seeks to help others find Christ

By MARY ANNE CASTRANIO, Staff writer | Published August 15, 2013

ATLANTA—Alejandro (Alex) Rodriguez has taken on the leadership of the young adult community in the Atlanta Archdiocese. He was named the new YAM director in July by Amy Daniels, director of the Office of Formation and Discipleship.

Alejandro Rodriguez, 24, is the new director of Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Atlanta's Office of Formation and Discipleship. (Photo By Michael Alexander)

Alejandro Rodriguez, 24, is the new director of Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s Office of Formation and Discipleship. (Photo By Michael Alexander)

Daniels said, “The OFD has been under construction since the end of 2011,” with an important aspect of the reorganization being “needs assessment with the goal of resourcing and supporting parishes and missions throughout the archdiocese.” Initially youth ministry and young adult ministry were combined into one office, but Daniels said “the combination of these two did not best meet the leadership needs in Atlanta.” Her office, she continued, strives to make a “concerted effort” to provide “parish-focused, need-based support from the Chancery level.”

A native of a rural town in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, the 24-year-old Rodriguez grew up in Clarkesville after moving to North Georgia with his family when he was 4. His family still lives in the area.

When asked what person influenced him in his faith, he unhesitatingly said, “My mother.” He recalled a time in high school when his mother pulled him from a regional soccer championship to go on a church retreat.

“I remember being angry,” he said, but he noticed that the retreat was good.

He said that later, while on retreat as a sophomore in college, he had a moment that “was a real defining moment.”

He said, “I had an amazing experience with the Eucharist. A warm sensation spread throughout my entire body. It came from the Eucharist; it pierced my heart.”

He attended Habersham County Central High School, then went to Gainesville State College in Oakwood for two years. He finished up at the University of Georgia, Athens, earning a degree in psychology this past May.

Since then, he’s been job-seeking, while working a humble job at a poultry plant near Clarkesville.

A parishioner at St. Mark Church while growing up and throughout college, he stayed connected with his faith though the Hispanic young adult group based there and at St. Helena Mission in Clayton. The group, for which he has served as a leader for the past two years, plans retreats twice a year, drawing young adults from Marietta to Hartwell, he said.

Rodriguez said that he particularly enjoys working with other young adults in the Catholic community. He said, “The diversity that young adults have. Ethnically, we’re so diverse, but in the end we’re one church, and that’s what really calls to me … the hunger that we all have to serve, to love and be loved.”

In his new role, Rodriguez said that he sees a big challenge in the diverse community of young adults, “of connecting the young adults to their parish and campus groups.”

He said, “Everyone’s journey will be personal, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” The plan is for young adult groups to be driven from within the parishes. His ministry will provide resources and speakers.

Daniels echoed Rodriguez’s plans. She said, “Initially, the goal for YAM is to identify and build a strong base of parish and campus young adult leaders, in cooperation with their pastors and campus chaplains.”

She also said that the YAM ministry will work in conjunction with the high school youth ministry, headed up by John Huynh.

She noted that the OFD staff will assist “in bridging the gap between high school ministry and young adult life ministry. Alex and John Huynh, being young adults themselves, and colleagues, have a great understanding and enthusiasm toward this goal.”

For more information about young adult ministry in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, visit