[Diocese of Texas press release] The Rt. Rev. Hector Monterroso, bishop of Costa Rica, has accepted the position of assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, Bishop Andy Doyle announced. Monterroso will begin work July 1, 2017, and will serve as bishop of the southern region of the diocese. Elected delegates approved the position at the diocese’s annual meeting February 12, 2017, in Galveston.
Citing their mutual vision of mission and evangelism, Bishop Doyle said Monterroso’s addition will continue to strengthen the growth in both Hispanic congregations as well as new missional communities and church plants in the Diocese of Texas. “I’m thrilled Bishop Monterroso has accepted my invitation to join our diocesan staff,” Bishop Doyle said. “He has a heart for mission and will be a great presence in our congregations. He will also help raise up leaders within the Hispanic congregations, although he will not minister in these communities exclusively.”
For his part, Bishop Monterroso said, “I identified with Bishop Doyle’s vision of missional communities and expansion.” While other dioceses in the U.S. had approached him previously, Bishop Monterroso said he felt most aligned with Bishop Doyle and the Diocese of Texas. “Let’s say it was a nudge from the Holy Spirit first,” he said, “but I recognized that this invitation was a great opportunity to do something new and challenging. It’s a good time for the Diocese of Costa Rica and a good time for me and my family.”
Monterroso joins Bishop Doyle, and Bishops Suffragan Dena Harrison and Jeff Fisher to provide an episcopal presence in the diocese’s more than 200 Episcopal faith communities: 154 congregations (three with second sites), 35 missional communities, 14 college ministries and numerous institutions. He will visit 45 congregations during the year; primarily in the southern region of the Diocese of Texas; chair the board of St. Vincent’s House, a social service agency in Galveston; support growth of multicultural presence in our congregations and help to create a strategy for new ethnic church plants and missional communities. Additionally, Bishop Monterroso will work to identify vocational leaders within the Hispanic congregations.
Originally from Guatemala, Bishop Monterroso has made great strides in the Diocese of Costa Rica during his 14-year tenure, securing its financial stability, increasing the number of clergy from seven to 29, assuring that most congregations are self-sustaining, and gaining governmental recognition for many of the Diocese’s programs.
On April 30, he preached at Palmer Memorial Church in Houston and later, spent the day with church members serving in the community. In his sermon that morning, Bishop Monterroso recounted the story of eight women who, a decade ago, sought space to store their sewing machines. Turned away by a number of other churches, Iglesia Ascencion gave them a small room even though the small Episcopal congregation in a poor neighborhood of San Jose had little itself. Church members later learned the eight women also carried the burden of being HIV positive.
“We did not have much to offer other than a small space in our building, but we had the hope that, through our faith, we could do great things, and through the love of God, everything is transformable,” Bishop Monterroso said. Today, the women have created an official association, Esperanza Viva, with more than 250 members. While they are poor, they “have an enduring spirit and steadfast values,” the Bishop said, acknowledging the opportunity for service their presence has provided to the church. Esperanza Viva recently signed an agreement with the World Bank to begin a pilot project to speak in schools about HIV prevention and, in cooperation with the Episcopal Church, they now have a training center, clinic and micro-enterprise facility.
“All of this was possible simply because we opened our eyes and our doors to these women who sought our help,” Bishop Monterroso said. This is the spirit of mission and ministry he brings to the Diocese of Texas.
Bishop Monterroso earned a Precision Mechanics and Industrial Maintenance degree and worked in the rum industry in Guatemala before attending seminary. A lifelong Episcopalian, he served as an acolyte when he was just seven years old in a new church, founded in his parent’s home. His wife Sandra studied in the United States before their marriage 32 years ago and serves as principal at one of the Diocese of Costa Rica’s Episcopal schools that provide education to some of the country’s poorest children. Their daughter Beatriz, 28, is a medical doctor in San Jose and their son Hector, 24, has recently completed an engineering degree and hopes to do post-graduate work in hydraulics engineering. The Monterrosos will reside in Houston.