Beloved Cuban bishop Agustin Roman dies in Miami – Lifestyle – Athens Banner-Herald

MIAMI – Agustin Roman, the first Cuban named bishop in the United States, died in Miami. He was 83 years old.

The Archdiocese of Miami announced that Roman went into cardiac arrest and died on Wednesday night. He had suffered from heart disease for several years.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski called Roman a “great patriot” of the Cuban nation.

Officials say Roman and 132 other priests were expelled from Cuba in 1961. He arrived in Miami, where he became a spiritual leader, advocating first for Cuban exiles and later for many other immigrants, including Haitian refugees. He also worked closely with Protestant and Jewish leaders.

“The Archdiocese of Miami has lost a great evangelizer who tirelessly preached the gospel to everyone. And the Cuban nation has lost a great patriot,” Wenski said in a statement.

Roman served as an intermediary during the Mariel boat lift in 1980, when Castro enabled more than 100,000 Cubans to escape by sea to the United States. He also helped negotiate a peaceful end to a 1986 uprising by Cuban inmates in federal prisons in Georgia and Louisiana. He later tried to convince Cuban Americans to support asylum for Haitian refugees.

“The death of Monsignor Roman is a loss not only to the Catholic believers in South Florida, but to everyone in our community who fled oppressive regimes or sought refuge and comfort in the words and support of this gentle man,” the US said -Representative. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami. “He was an advocate for God, for fundamental freedoms, and for those that society sometimes forgot.”

During his early years in Miami, he urged exiles to donate as little as they could afford to build the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Biscayne Bay. It became a beacon for exiles and continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and remains a meeting place for many Cuban Americans in moments of political crisis.

The shrine contains a replica of a statue of Cuba’s patron saint, the Virgin of Charity by Cobre. This year she is 400 years old since she first appeared in an old copper mining town on the southeast coast of Cuba.

After Roman was expelled from Cuba, he went first to Spain and then to Chile before finally arriving in Miami. He retired as Auxiliary Bishop of Miami when he turned 75 on May 5, 2003, as canon law dictates. He remained active in the sanctuary, where he was often found greeting visitors and responding to letters from other Cuban exiles. There he suffered a heart attack.

There will be a public visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity throughout Friday. Wenski will preside over a funeral mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., followed by an internment in the cemetery of Our Lady of Mercy.

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