The Rev. Jorge Juan Rivera-Torres, Class of 1962, received the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award during the Alumni Memorial Eucharist, May 14, 2019, a highlight of the annual Alumni Gathering. As historian at the Diocese of Puerto Rico, Padre Jorge’s work has kept Anglican/Episcopal history alive, and provided an example of a bridge between the Puerto Rican identity and the Episcopal Church’s ethos and tradition.
Padre Jorge was introduced by the Rev. John Shirley, Class of 2017, who had nominated him for the award. Rivera-Torres’ work and reputation had left a deep impression on Shirley while he was working in the Diocese of Puerto Rico in 2016. He emphasized that as the contemporary Episcopal Church faces the challenge of embracing and meeting the needs of the various Latino/Latina/Latinx communities that feel called into our fold, we can look to the work and writings of Padre Rivera-Torres for an example of how a once predominantly white and Anglo religious tradition adapted itself to a completely different culture.
Rivera-Torres also preached at the Memorial Eucharist, emphasizing the timeless and transcendent value of knowing the concept of Resurrection in better identifying Jesus’ presence among us today. He noted the creative impulse of the Resurrection as a motivating force delivering God’s liberating strength to each one of us today. Read the full text of his sermon here.
The Memorial Eucharist is a time of remembrance and for lifting up in prayer those alumni whose deaths have been reported to the Seminary over the past year. The Necrology was read by Community Council President Thomas Szczerba, Class of 2020. Download a copy of the 2018-2019 Necrology.
At a reception following, Padre Jorge reminisced and answered questions about his years of work with Hispanic communities across the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. He was introduced by the Rev. Dr. Carla Roland Guzman, our affiliate professor of Church History., who glowingly acknowledged his profound support of her own discernment process as a young postulant.
Later in the day, alumni led workshops looked at the challenges of Hispanic ministry and the potential for growth. The Rev. Miguel Hernandez ’13 shared tools and techniques he is using in the Diocese of Newark. The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija ’14, shared experiments he is developing as Director of the TryTank (a joint venture between General and VTS) to aid and inspire Latinx outreach.