Monseñor Agustín Román 1928 - 2012
Obispo de la diáspora cubana
La muerte le llegó repentinamente al anochecer del miércoles 11 de abril, junto a esa Ermita de la Caridad a la que consagró las últimas décadas de su vida.
|foto: El Nuevo Herald|
Estaba a punto de cumplir los 84 años, 51 de ellos fuera de su Cuba natal y 46 en Miami. Más de la mitad de su vida, como tantos exiliados. Monseñor Agustín Román, obispo emérito de la archidiócesis de Miami, estaba jubilado desde los 75, pero aún daba clases de catequesis.
En el santuario lo esperaban para una jornada de oración y no llegaba. Cuando fueron a buscarlo lo encontraron desmayado en el automóvil. Se le trasladó al hospital Mercy y allí fue declarado muerto, “tan santamente como vivió”, dijo una religiosa de las que trabajan en la catequesis de la Ermita. Un paro cardíaco.Tan pronto como los noticieros de radio y televisión dieron la noticia: “ha muerto Monseñor Agustín Román”, cundió la consternación en miles de corazones en Miami. Muchos fueron a la Ermita, querían estar allí, donde el Obispo Román tantas veces les había predicado la palabra de Dios. En la mañana de este jueves continuaban las manifestaciones de duelo.
La Iglesia Católica de Cuba expresó este jueves 12 de abril un "profundo pesar" por la muerte del monseñor, Agustín Román. "Con profundo pesar los Obispos de Cuba han conocido la noticia del fallecimiento, en la noche de ayer (miércoles 11 de abril), de monseñor Agustín Román, obispo auxiliar emérito de Miami", detalla una nota publicada en el sitio digital de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Cuba. El Presidente de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Cuba , el Arzobispo de Santiago de Cuba, Moseñor Dionisio García, en entrevista con Radio Martí expresó su pesar por la muerte del obispo exiliado Monseñor Agustín Román.
Nacido el 5 de mayo de 1928 en el municipio de San Antonio de los Baños, el joven Román sintió desde muy temprano el llamado de la fe católica y germinó en él la vocación al sacerdocio para el que fue ordenado en 1959. Se entregó con entusiasmo a su apostolado en la Diócesis de Matanzas pero muy pronto recibió una amarga sorpresa. El régimen comunista implantado en Cuba el mismo año en que él iniciaba su carrera sacerdotal, lo expulsó del país. Fue arrestado sin más explicaciones y lo trasladaron a La Habana donde junto a más de un centenar de otros sacerdotes, lo embarcaron en el vapor Covadonga hacia España.
Aunque apenas pudo ejercer su vocación de evangelizador dentro de su propia patria, en Miami si llevó el mensaje de Cristo a miles de sus compatriotas, muchos de ellos --recién escapados del terror comunista en la isla-- encontraron la fe en la Ermita de la Caridad gracias a la prédica de Román y la catequesis que allí se ofrece a quienes llegan de un sistema donde muchos temían acercarse a una iglesia.
durante la construcción del Santuario de la Ermita
Miami década 60's
foto: Fleitas Cuba Collection
Allá por la década de 1960 el entonces Arzobispo Coleman F. Carroll concibió la idea de levantar un santuario especialmente para que los miles de cubanos que llegaban al destierro honraran a la patrona de su país, la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. Le encomendó buena parte de la idea a monseñor Román, al que mas tarde nombró rector del nuevo templo. El fruto de la labor apostólica del monseñor Román fue tal que en 1979 fue elevado al rango de Obispo auxiliar de Miami. Se convirtió así en el primer cubano que llegaba a esa dignidad en la historia de la Iglesia Católica en Estados Unidos. Al consignar la noticia de la muerte de monseñor Román, el Arzobispo de Miami, Monseñor Thomas Wenski declaró: “La Arquidiócesis de Miami ha perdido a un gran evangelizador que incansablemente predicó el Evangelio a todos El pueblo cubano ha perdido un gran patriota. El obispo Román fue el Félix Varela de nuestros tiempos”.
Misa de Cuerpo Presente del Monseñor Agustin Roman
Catedral Santa Maria de Miami 14 de abril 2012
foto: El Nuevo Herald
AGUSTIN ROMAN (born Agustín Alejo Román Rodríguez; May 5, 1928 – April 11, 2012) was the Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Miami and the Titular Bishop of the Titular See of Sertei.
His parents were Rosendo Román and Juana M. Rodríguez. He studied philosophy at the San Alberto Magno Seminary in Matanzas and then studied theology at the Seminary of the Fathers of Foreign Missions in Montreal, Canada. He received a Master's in Religious Studies from Barry University and a Master's in Human Resources from St. Thomas University.
Priesthood He was ordained a priest on July 5, 1959, and assigned to the Diocese of Matanzas. He was assigned to the parishes of Coliseo-Lagunillas and Pedro Betancourt and Spiritual Director of Juventud Católica. He was expelled from Cuba on September 17, 1961, by the Communist regime along with another 130 priests and the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Havana, Eduardo Tomas Boza-Masvidal, on the Spanish ship Covadonga.
From 1962 to 1966, he was Spiritual Director and Professor at the Institute of Humanities in Temuco, Chile. He was also assigned to the parish of Espíritu in Temuco. From 1967 to 1973, he was the chaplain of Mercy Hospital in Miami, United States.
He served on the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Hispanic Affairs, and was a member of the Committee on Migration and Tourism. He was also director of the Charismatic Movement (1977-1979), member of the committee on Popular Piety, and episcopal vicar for the Spanish-speaking people of the Archdiocese (1976 – 1984).
Episcopacy On February 6, 1979, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Miami; his Principal Consecrator was Miami's Archbishop, Edward Anthony McCarthy. On March 24, 1979, he was ordained Titular Bishop of Sertei. He was the first Cuban to be consecrated Bishop in the United States.
From 1979 to 1997, he served as Executive Director of the Ministry of Pastoral Service, which includes Hispanic movements, ministry to Haitians, Blacks and other cultural groups, ministry to families, youth, young adults, the sick, the handicapped, farmworkers, prisoners, and Respect Life.
From 1997 to 2003 he also served as director of the Ministry of Persons, which includes priests, religious and laity.
In December 1986, when Cuban detainees rioted in U.S. Federal Prisons in Atlanta, Georgia, and Oakdale, Louisiana, to protest their indefinite incarceration and probable deportation to Cuba, the prisoners called on Bishop Román to be the mediator for their negotiations with the federal agents. His role in ending the crisis without loss of blood earned him recognition as ABC News' Person of the Week, "a man of compassion, gentility and commitment... a man with a strong personality and humble spirit." When the press began calling him a hero, Bishop Roman responded with characteristic humility: "A bishop, a priest, is a servant, not a hero."
Bishop Román was the principal co-consecrator of Bishop Enrique San Pedro S.J., Bishop Gilberto Fernández, Archbishop Thomas Gerard Wenski, and Bishop John Gerard Noonan. On May 5, 2003, Bishop Román turned 75 and, as required under canon law, submitted his resignation as Auxiliary Bishop of Miami.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity Bishop Román was identified with the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami until the very end of his mortal life. His exhortations raised enough money to pay for the construction, which he oversaw. He remained active there, first as its Director, from 1967, and then as its Rector Emeritus, after retiring from active ministry in 2003. He was considered the principal spokesman for Catholic Cuban-American exiles. In retirement, he spent much of his time at the shrine.
Death It was at this shrine where, on April 11, 2012, he suffered a cardiac arrest. Transported to the neighboring Mercy Hospital, he died shortly before 8:45 p.m. at age 83, having lived 33 years as Bishop.
After a visitation and wake at the same shrine on April 12 and 13, Miami's Archbishop, Thomas Gerard Wenski, was the principal celebrant of the Funeral Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary on Saturday, April 14 at 1 p.m., which was followed by internment at 3 p.m. at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery. Many Bishops and priests from the U.S. and other countries were present, including Miami's Archbishop Emeritus Favalora, the other Bishops of the Catholic Province of Miami (the state of Florida), the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Bernardito Auza, as well as Archbishop Dionisio García of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba, Bishop Mario Mestril of the Diocese of Ciego de Avila, and Bishop Emilio Aranguren of the Diocese of Holguín, who were representing the Church in Cuba.
The Archdiocese of Miami released the following transcripts of official statements on its website: Florida's Governor Rick Scott stated,: "I join the community of Cuban exiles throughout Florida in mourning the passing of a man who was the right person to bring peace and understanding between Cuba and the Cuban community in Miami. “With the passing of Bishop Román, Florida has lost a tremendous leader who spent his life wholeheartedly serving others in spite of his deep desire and longing for a free and democratic Cuba. He loved his native country, as well as America and the freedom our nation offers. His life serves as shining example of what it means to follow Jesus Christ’s direction that the greatest among us are the humble servants who seek no reward for themselves.”
Miami's Archbishop Emeritus, John Clement Favalora, stated,: "I first met Bishop Román when I was Bishop of Alexandria, Louisiana, and he came to Oakdale Prison to mediate the riots among the Cuban (Marielitos) prisoners. By simply calling them to prayer with him, he immediately brought peace and harmony. He also remained for a time to intercede with authorities on their behalf. Besides being a peacemaker, he has been an authentic successor of the Apostles, a priest with the heart of Christ and a saintly spiritual father to so many priests, religious and laity. Bishop Agustín's life was a total oblation of love to the Father in union with and in imitation of Jesus. The Church in Miami and beyond, the Cuban people here and on the Island, all of us have had the grace of knowing a genuine pastor of souls who daily poured out himself in witness of his episcopal motto "Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel". Blessedly now, his priestly heart will find rest in the Lord whose faithful steward he was."
Monsignor Frankly Casale, President of St. Thomas University, stated,: "...Bishop Román received a Master of Science in Human Services degree from St. Thomas University. He will be greatly missed in our community. Please pray for his eternal rest."
Through her Congressional website, U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-FL, 18th Dist.), stated,: “The passing of Monsignor Roman is not just a loss for the Catholic faithful in South Florida but for all in our community who have fled oppressive regimes or have sought refuge and comfort in the words and support of this gentle man. He was an advocate for God, for fundamental freedoms, and for those whom society had sometimes forgotten. This grand man of prayer and love united us like no other and in his passing we mourn the death of a priest loved by all who met him or heard his homilies. ..."
Bishop Roman was the Felix Varela of our time.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski
Archbishop Thomas Wenski