Did you know that there is an Anglican/Episcopal church in Venezuela? Did you know that the Diocese of Venezuela is part of The Episcopal Church?
Venezuela is actually the newest diocese in The Episcopal Church. The 2012 General Convention will mark the first time that the diocese will attend Convention with a voice and a vote. Personally, I’m excited about this opportunity for the Diocese of Venezuela and the wider church. There is a great deal that we can share with and teach each other.
During our brief visit to the diocese, we spent most of our time in Caracas with the Rt. Rev. Orlando Guerrero, the diocesan bishop, and the Rev. José Francisco Salazar, who serves as a parish priest and the diocesan treasurer. We also had the opportunity to attend the ordination to the priesthood of the Rev. Jean Pierre Cene Joseph. The ordination took place in the chapel in the Diocesan Center with Bishop Orlando presiding and preaching.
The next day, with Bishop Orlando and his son Marco, we braved the Caracas traffic and travelled to the Los Magallanes de Catia neighborhood, which is located on hilltops, to visit the San Andrés Mission. San Andrés is home to the Diocese of Venezuela’s Haitian congregation. There are approximately one million Haitians living in Venezuela, mostly in Caracas or in coastal towns. The congregation at San Andrés has a Sunday attendance of at least 30 people – this isn’t because there aren’t more people who want to attend the service, but rather because the space at the Mission is very limited! When the Bishop visits and there are special services, the congregation has to meet on a nearby rooftop because so many people want to attend the service.
The diocese is currently working to purchase a property with more space so the congregation can continue to grow and provide additional services for parishioners and members of the local community. The diocese hopes to start a daycare/preschool but, in order to do so, they must purchase a site that is more centrally located. A new site will also allow the Rev. Jean Pierre to better minister to another Haitian Episcopal community that is located in Carapita, which is about an hour from San Andrés.
We pray that the ministry of the Rev. Jean Pierre will continue be blessed and that the people of San Andrés are able to find a new space soon.
If you’ll be attending General Convention in July, please be sure to say hello to Bishop Orlando and the delegation from the Diocese of Venezuela!