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PUERTO RICO: Easter will be especially joyful at new church in Ponce

[Episcopal News Service] The Diocese of Puerto Rico recently inaugurated the new facilities for Iglesia San Lucas Evangelista in Ponce.

Puerto Rico Bishop David A. Alvarez presided at a February 15 ceremony for the consecration and blessing of the new church, and blessing of medical offices and an intensive care building. Alvarez was assisted by Bishop Suffragan Rayford High of the Diocese of Texas and Bishop Ambrose Gumbs from the Diocese of the Virgin Islands.

The new buildings represent an investment of more than $80 million.

Saint Luke's the Evangelist Church can accommodate 500 people. It is decorated with stained-glass windows depicting the miracles of Christ according to the Gospel of Luke as well as the sacraments and the Holy Trinity. Renowned stained-glass artist Herminia Rivera, born in Spain and a resident of Puerto Rico, was commissioned to create the art.
The medical office building has 90 medical offices with the technological capacity for the doctors to have access via internet to their patients' records and to monitors throughout the hospital and the intensive care units. There will also be a pharmacy, restaurants and three floors for parking area.
The intensive care building has 150 beds for cardiovascular treatment and other conditions, which make it the most modern in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, and up to par with many hospitals in the United States, according to a diocesan news release.
The project was the product of six years of planning and hard work to develop the old Saint Luke's Hospital, which was closed to facilitate transfer into the new buildings.

The Diocese of Puerto Rico also operates the Cristo Redentor Hospital in the city of Guayama and the Programa de Salud en el Hogar y Hospicio San Lucas (Saint Luke's Home Care and Hospice Program), the biggest in Puerto Rico. It will soon begin to operate the Saint Luke's Hospital in what was the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base in the city of Ceiba.

At that point the Episcopal Church will be the leading provider of health-care services in Puerto Rico, according to the news release. The diocese employs close to 5,000 people and serves a monthly average of 75,000 people. Its medical organizations are controlled by the Servicios de Salud Episcopales Inc. (Episcopal Health Services Inc.), which is the subsidiary of the Iglesia Episcopal Puertorriqueña (Episcopal Church of Puerto Rico).

The Diocese of Puerto Rico also has three homes for the elderly and disabled; five schools; and 50 parishes, missions and new missions as well as the Vidas (Lifes) program Servicios Sociales Episcopales Inc., which operates centers for children victims of abuse, HIV+ and learning disabilities.

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