David Álvarez (bishop)

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David Andrés Álvarez-Velázquez (born 17 August 1941) served as Bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Rico of the Episcopal Church of the United States(TEC),[1] or "Iglesia Episcopal Puertorriqueña",[2] succeeding the late Right Reverend Francisco Reus-Froylan, the first Puerto Rican to serve as Diocesan Bishop. He also served as acting Bishop in Cuba and is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Church of the United States.[3]

After serving as Vicar of Santa Hilda Church in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, and as Bishop Reus Froylan's administrative assistant, Alvarez-Velazquez was made Bishop Reus Froylan's Bishop Coadjutor of Puerto Rico on 20 August 1987 and Bishop of Puerto Rico on 3 December 1989.

During his years of service, he strengthened the Episcopal Church's role within the island's health services provider sector, expanding the church's hospital holdings from one hospital (St. Luke's in Ponce, which will soon become a hospice and mental health facility) to three (adding a larger St. Luke's II in Ponce, which now has the largest cardiovascular ward in Puerto Rico, and Cristo Redentor Hospital in Guayama). The Episcopal health system will add one more facility when the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station hospital reopens under its management. Under his leadership, the Church ceased to be a separate national church within the world Anglican community and rejoined the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC). He served on the national church's Executive Committee.[4] Under his leadership, the Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico improved its communications efforts, including a weekly, diocesan-wide, Sunday morning radio program and an improved full-color monthly magazine. He served as a regional leader in the Anglican community and contributing to the U.S. church's efforts among Hispanic Americans.

In recent years, Episcopalians have had a higher public profile in Puerto Rico. During former Gov. Sila Calderón's term in office, Episcopalians held important government positions in Puerto Rico's three branches of government, including Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado, Senate Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock, and Courts Administrator Mercedes Bauermeister. During Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá's term, McClintock, as the Senate President, had been the highest Episcopalian in public office. During the Fortuño administration, McClintock remained the highest ranking Episcopalian while he served as Secretary of State, which in Puerto Rico fills the role of lieutenant governor. Under Governor Alejandro García Padilla, Electoral Comptroller Manuel A. Torres is considered the highest-ranking Episcopalian in government.

In October 2007, Bishop Alvarez hosted the visit of the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who was honored by McClintock at a Puerto Rico Senate session, attended the Diocese of Puerto Rico's 100th annual Diocesan Assembly and a service commemorating the St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital's centennial.

Several years ago, Bishop Alvarez unsuccessfully attempted to begin an orderly succession with the election of an Auxiliary Bishop, but the Diocesan Assembly did not support such efforts at the time. In 2007, the Diocesan Assembly finally authorized him to begin the search for a Bishop Co-Adjutor who would eventually succeed him. The election was expected to take place on November 21, 2009 and the new Bishop would replace Alvarez no later than 2013, but that second attempt at succession was aborted. The Bishop reached the mandatory retirement age of 72 in August 2013 and retired on October 31 of that year. Bishop Wilfrido Ramos-Orench is assisting the Diocese until a new Diocesan Bishop is elected and installed.

References[edit]

Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by
Francisco Reus-Froylan
Diocesan Bishop of Puerto Rico
1989-present
Succeeded by
incumbent