[Episcopal News Service, by David Paulsen] Bishop Rafael Morales leaves no impression he is still wading into his job. He had led the Diocese of Puerto Rico a mere two months when Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September, and since then he, his staff and clergy around the diocese have mobilised relief efforts with a determination that earned praise from Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church, during a two-day visit.
Hurricane Maria was and continues to be an unparalleled catastrophe, Morales said, but he is seizing the opportunity for ministry to his fellow Puerto Ricans.
“Our people have a good heart,” he said on the road to the coastal town of Toa Baja accompanied by Curry. Puerto Rico’s culture is one of thanksgiving, Morales said. “This diocese is a diocese of hope.”
Curry was in Puerto Rico on a pastoral visit, and he preached 3 January in the evening at the Episcopal cathedral in San Juan, the capital of the US territory. The earlier stop in Toa Baja introduced Curry and his delegation to Hugs of Love, a series of pop-up medical clinics the diocese has offered since the hurricane through the health care system it runs. This and other ministries are strengthened by ecumenical partnerships and through collaboration with federal agencies, local non-profits and the Episcopal Church’s Episcopal Relief & Development.
For the Hugs of Love event in Toa Baja, open-air canvas tents were set up on a vacant gravel lot provided by the local Disciples of Christ congregation, which also sent volunteers. They wore hats and shirts with the message “Ama Como Crist” – “Love Like Christ.”
“Thank you for what you’ve both done. It’s God’s work,” Curry said to the Disciples of Christ pastor, the Revd Prudencio Rivera Andujar, and his wife, Azalia Gomez.
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