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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

San Juan archbishop awarded for leadership following natural disasters

Archbishop of San Juan Roberto González Nieves

By The Star Staff

San Juan Archbishop Roberto González Nieves has received an award for his leadership in guiding Puerto Rico through rebuilding efforts after the island was decimated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, and a series of earthquakes in 2020, according to the online publication Crux Now.

Catholic Extension, an organization that since 1905 has worked to support the Catholic Church in some of the poorest regions of the country, awarded González its “Spirit of Francis Award” at a Nov. 28 ceremony in New York City. The publication said the annual award recognizes an individual or group who has made a significant impact on the mission of the Church through service or philanthropy.

Fr. Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension, described González as someone “who possesses a passionate heart, that beats with a pastor’s love for his people, for the people’s growth and well-being, and for the future of the people of God in Puerto Rico.”

“Archbishop Roberto is truly a good shepherd leading, nurturing, strengthening, and giving his very life every day so that God’s people in Puerto Rico may continue to build up vibrant and transformative Catholic faith communities, especially among the poorest of the poor on the island,” Wall said as quoted by Crux Now.

Present at the ceremony were Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, and Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. From Puerto Rico, Bishop Luis Miranda Rivera of Fajardo-Humacao and Bishop Angel Luis Rios Matos of Mayaguez were also in attendance.

Receiving the award, González said he accepts it “as a call and a grace to renew my vowed service to the Lord, his people and his Church.”

“Thank you, Catholic Extension, for financially and spiritually supporting the Church in Puerto Rico since 1905 to the present time,” González said. “Extension has helped repair and rebuild damaged church structures, and helped us secure necessary funding, which we otherwise would not have been able to secure. This is an extraordinary expression of ecclesial and missionary solidarity and love.”

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