Francisco José Duque Gómez was consecrated bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Colombia at St. Alban's Church, Bogotá on July 14, 2001. Duque, a member of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, is the first Colombian "cradle Episcopalian" to be elected to lead the diocese, and its fourth bishop. He was elected on February 2, 2001 by unanimous vote in both the lay and clergy orders.
Presiding Bishop Frank Tracy Griswold III was the consecrating bishop and diocesan bishop Bernardo Merino Botero was the preacher at the service. A number of other bishops were in attendance, including Armando Guerra of Guatemala; Neptalí Larrea of Ecuador; James Ottley, now of Long Island; Benito Juarez of Southeast México; Alfredo Morante of Litoral, Ecuador; Martín Barahona of El Salvador; Leo Frade, now of Southeast Florida; and the former and first bishop of Colombia, David Reed.
The Episcopal Church of the United States was represented by Executive Council members Louie Crew, Frank Oberly and Rita Redfield. Also participating were the Rev. Jean Smith and Douglas Stevenson of the Seamen's Church Institute. Duque recently spent six months in Port Newark, New Jersey completing the Seamen's Church Institute training program for port ministries.
The new bishop's family, including his wife, Blanca Lucia, and daughters Angelica Lucia, Maria Victoria and Elizabeth, vested him in the traditional garments and symbols of the episcopate. Reed presented Duque with the original crosier which had first been given to Reed twenty-five years ago, when he was consecrated the first bishop of the diocese of Colombia.
A reception followed at the residence of the United States Ambassador, Ann Wright Patterson, and her husband, members of the Cathedral Parish of St.Paul's. Some 150 guests gathered to congratulate Bishop Duque and his family and to meet Bishop and Mrs. Griswold.
Ministry in a civil war
Bishop Griswold also met privately for about an hour with a dozen or more of the clergy of the diocese to hear more about their hopes and concerns. Colombia's long-running, low-grade, civil war of some fifty years' duration has severely damaged the economy and the well being of Colombia's citizens, especially those in the more remote countryside. The more recent development of significant drug trafficking and growing United States military presence has made life even more difficult for many people.
One priest described having to schedule his church services at hours determined by the guerrillas controlling that area. Another priest described the occasional visits to his church by local militia groups requesting protection money to allow his congregation to stay open. Still another spoke of the decimation of the young people in their churches as so many fall to prey to drug addiction and/or trafficking, resulting jail sentences, disappearances at the hands of various militia groups, conscription by paramilitary or guerrilla groups, or escape to other countries.
Duque spoke passionately about expanding the church's preaching of love and peace, a witness he said would be much more effective if offered ecumenically. He also spoke of the gifts and ministry of his wife and law partner, Blanca Lucia, a human rights and indigenous rights lawyer as well as a respected peace negotiator.
Duque said he dreams of expanding the Episcopal Church so that it will become a national presence in Colombia, rather than widely scattered and often isolated as it is now. He said he would like to see the church's ministry include social and economic groups not traditionally drawn to the Episcopal Church.
"Church is more than masses," he commented. "We need to move beyond our sacristies."
The Episcopal Diocese of Colombia was formed in 1963 and currently has about 25 thousand members.
[Mardi Mauney is co-convener of the Presiding Bishop's Committee for the Episcopal Churches of the United States and Brazil. A former missionary in Brazil, she was raised in Venezuela.]
Article from:ENS by Mardi Mauney