This Fall, Faith In Practice will honor the work of Dr. Rafael Espada, Vice President of Guatemala, former Houston cardiac surgeon and Faith In Practice Board Member at its annual Gala A Heart For Mission Tuesday, October 14, 2008 from 5:30-9:00 p.m. at the Westin Galleria Houston.

Dr. Espada practiced in Houston for over 30 years at the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center and was a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine. Most recently he was elected Vice President of Guatemala in January of 2008 and has said this position will allow him to concentrate on the overall health care and economic conditions in his native country. Until his recent election, Espada traveled monthly from his home in Houston to Guatemala to treat underprivileged patients and to teach. Through his work and the collaboration of other US surgeons, Dr. Espada built UNICAR, a state-of-the-art cardiothoracic surgery facility, in Guatemala City.

Dr. Espada™s willingness to forgo a comfortable retirement in the United States and return to his homeland of Guatemala to help his people is inspiring and encouraging to all of us who work in the health field in Guatemala, said Vera Wiatt, co-founder of Faith In Practice. He brings unquestionable ethics, high ideals and years of experience in providing quality medical care to a country in great need of innovative ideas and restructuring of the medical care delivery system.

In addition to honoring Dr. Espada, the Gala will honor Faith In Practice volunteer and Guatemalan native, Armando Najera. A former beneficiary of donated medical services, Armando works and lives in rural Guatemala and now volunteers as a Faith In Practice community leader, bringing health and wholeness to his remote village. Armando™s testament as a Faith In Practice volunteer is evidence to the life changing medical mission work that happens all over the country.

Guests at the Gala will participate in a live auction and the Mercado featuring beautiful Guatemalan handicrafts and art. Proceeds from the event will help to support this life changing work.

Since its inception in 1992, Faith In Practice has developed rich and rewarding partnerships throughout Guatemala, including the Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro Hospital and Orphanage in Antigua, and in the remote villages of Retalhuheu, San Benito, Patzºn and Sarstoon. Working alongside the medical staff, administrative staff and the Franciscan clergy, Faith In Practice volunteers donate a week of their time and pay their own travel expenses to provide healthcare services to the poor of Guatemala. Faith In Practice provides housing at the Casa de Fe in Antigua, a guest house for patients and their families while they await their surgeries and then begin recovery. Faith In Practice has also begun its Women™s Health Initiative, with the VIA/Cryo program, a medical teaching program educating local Guatemalan practitioners how to identify and treat precancerous cervical cells.

For more information about opportunities with Faith In Practice or to purchase tickets for the Gala, please contact Faith In Practice at 713/484-5555, or online at

Faith In Practice, Houston
Kasey Ulrich, 713-484-5555