A newsletter for friends of the Global Mission Institute, Luther Seminary

Global Vision - Fall 2010

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International Student Profile

Dynna Castillo Portugal

by Katya Ouchakof, M.Th. '10


Dynna Castillo Portugal

Dynna Castillo Portugal had planned to spend her career working with computers. Though Christian faith is a way of life for Portugal, and ordained ministry is the vocation of both her father and grandfather, she did not plan to work professionally in the church. But, while Portugal had already begun a successful career in computer engineering, God had other plans for her.

"It's just amazing how God works in your life," Portugal said of her decision to follow the call to ministry.

Portugal's exploration of ministry studies ultimately led her from Mexico to Minnesota. In 2002, she left her home in Mexico City and enrolled at Bethel Seminary, where she studied pastoral care and counseling. At Bethel, Portugal learned about domestic violence and how systems of abuse can influence faith communities. Through these studies, she recognized that the culture of machismo, extreme male chauvinism common throughout much of Latin America, was closely tied to issues of domestic violence that she had seen in her home congregation.

Portugal graduated from Bethel in 2005 with a master's degree in theological studies and a concentration in pastoral care and counseling. However, she still yearned for more knowledge. So, at the encouragement of her mother, Portugal spent an additional year in St. Paul gaining hands-on pastoral care experience through a chaplaincy residency program at a local hospital.

The following year, Portugal returned to Mexico City and was ordained as a Free Methodist minister at her home congregation, Gethsemane Evangelical Church. After working at Gethsemane for two years, she found herself again longing for further learning in pastoral care and counseling. So she enrolled in another year-long chaplaincy residency program, bringing her back to St. Paul in the fall of 2008.

It was during that residency that she learned of Luther Seminary's Ph.D. program in pastoral care and counseling/ from a colleague who was a student at Luther. At the time, she did not know that such a program even existed, yet the following school year she found herself enrolled and beginning classes at Luther.

Through her pastoral care studies at Luther, Portugal is able to further her research in domestic violence and faith communities, knowledge she will bring home to Mexico when she completes the program.

And though her friends and family all remain in the Mexico City area, Portugal does not feel lonely in St. Paul. She enjoys living on campus and appreciates the Christian community she has found at Luther. "Luther Seminary has been a special blessing in my life," Portugal says, and the people there "have been angels for me."