Diocese of Puerto Rico - Iglesia Episcopal Diócesis de Puerto Rico
1409 Ave. Ponce de León, 4to piso San Juan, Puerto Rico 00907-4025
At the September 9 Province II Synod, a resolution to accept the Diocese of Puerto Rico into the Province received a unanimous vote. Yvonne O’Neal, Lay Representative to Province II Council, presented the Resolution Regarding the Diocese of Puerto Rico. O’Neal represented the Province at a Special Convention of the Diocese of Puerto Rico on July 31, 2021. The Diocese of Puerto Rico convened this Special Convention to determine the change from Province IX to Province II, III, or IV.
Under General Convention Resolution 2018-A072, which allows dioceses to review the province they are currently in and explore whether they wish to become affiliated with a different province, Puerto Rico analyzed its relationship with Province IX. As a result, the Diocese of Puerto Rico resolved by canonical vote to begin the formalities for the change of province. This resolution was present to the 22nd Synod of Province IX on April 24, 2021, and was ratified unanimously.
At the Special Convention of the Diocese of Puerto Rico, Bishop William Klusmeyer of West Virginia represented Province III. Bishop Gregory Brewer of Central Florida represented Province IV. The Rev. José Rodríguez -- a Puerto Rican-born priest, the rector of an Orlando parish – accompanied Bishop Brewer. Province IV was very keen on Puerto Rico and was unequivocal in its presentation, including an excellent video. The race was between Provinces II and IV, as Province III was eliminated in the first ballot. Interestingly, the laity showed a preference for Province II and the clergy for Province IV. After much faithful deliberation, amid prayers and songs of praise, Province II garnered 84 percent of the total vote (71 percent clergy, 87 percent laity) on the sixth ballot.
Province II Acting President Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe of Central New York invited Bishop Rafael Morales of the Diocese of Puerto Rico to address the Synod before the vote. He gave an overview of the Diocese and its many programs. Bishop Morales highlighted the diocesan seminary, the funeral and grief counseling program, the new radio station with its many programs, especially the lay ministries featured at 7 PM, and how this all feeds into social media. One of the most notable achievements of the Diocese of Puerto Rico is the St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System, the biggest on the island, and has been in operation for more than 100 years. Bishop Morales reiterated that the Diocese of Puerto Rico is Dynamic, Missionary, and Evangelizing. He is very proud of his people!
In presenting the resolution, O’Neal talked about the dynamism and vitality of the Diocese of Puerto Rico. She said it would be an excellent addition to our Caribbean Dioceses of Cuba, Haiti, and the Virgin Islands. Over the years, Puerto Rico has been a friend to Cuba. The sixth Bishop of Puerto Rico, the Rt. Rev. David Álvarez, served as Provisional Bishop in Cuba from July 1993 to November 1994. The Diocese of Puerto Rico was among the first responders to assist Haiti following the recent earthquake. There has always been a close relationship between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands was part of the Diocese of Puerto Rico from 1917 when acquired by the United States until the formation of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands in 1962.
Another item that O’Neal wanted the Synod to understand was that Puerto Rico was not coming to Province II seeking financial assistance. The Diocese has income-producing enterprises such as the St. Luke’s Health System. Eight years ago, the Diocese of Puerto Rico had an endowment of $26 million dollars amassed by the retiring bishop, an endowment that has grown substantially since then.
In 2022, the Diocese of Puerto Rico will celebrate 150 years of Anglicanism on the island. Queen Victoria sent the materials from England to build Holy Trinity Church in Ponce. The bell of the Holy Trinity rang for the first time on July 28, 1898, after the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico, ending the religious restrictions of the Spanish government. The bell is affectionately known as the “Second Liberty Bell.”
Next year at the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, Puerto Rico will present a resolution for the approval and implementation as the 13th diocese in Province II, the International Atlantic Province. This vote should be a mere formality. So, 2022 portends to be a big year in the life of the Diocese of Puerto Rico as it celebrates 150 years of Anglicanism and as it becomes a part of the International Atlantic Province – Province II. The year 2022 will undoubtedly be a year of joyful celebration, God willing. ¡Bienvenidos, Puerto Rico!
Lay Representative to Provincial Council