Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Ana Rodriguez Soto - Florida Catholic newspaper
MIAMI — Long before the news was official, the rumors were rampant that Miami’s “native son” would come home to lead the archdiocese. Those rumors came true April 20.
Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando — a Lake Worth native, Miami priest and former auxiliary bishop — will succeed Archbishop John C. Favalora, becoming Miami’s fourth archbishop.
The reaction of those attending the press conference where the announcement was made ranged from happy to elated.
“Fantastic” said Vicky Rezola, the archbishop-designate’s former secretary at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami.
“Great news” said Myriam Mezadieu, chief administrator of Catholic Legal Services who has known Archbishop-designate Wenski since the days when he worked as pastor of Notre Dame d’Haiti Mission in Miami.
Proof of “God’s wisdom” said Auxiliary Bishop Felipe Estevez, who was a faculty member at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary when the archbishop-designate was a student there.
“A great gift from God” said retired Auxiliary Bishop Agustin Roman, who likes to say that Archbishop-designate Wenski learned his Spanish in Hialeah.
“I thought I lost him,” said Chantal Moise, a parishioner at Notre Dame d’Haiti who remembers how her then pastor, Father Wenski, took busloads of Haitians each week to visit their relatives at the Krome Avenue detention center.
“He helped the Haitian community so we consider him as the half-brother of the Haitian people,” Moise said. “So we welcome him back here with our prayers.”
“I have big shoes to fill,” Archbishop-designate Wenski, 59, said in a prepared statement, referring to Archbishop Favalora.
Later, at the Mass, he recalled Archbishop Coleman Carroll, Miami’s first archbishop, who confirmed him when he was in the sixth grade and ordained him in 1976; Archbishop Edward McCarthy, who appointed him to the Haitian apostolate and under whom he worked for most of his priesthood; and Archbishop Favalora, who made him head of Catholic Charities and under whom he served as auxiliary bishop for six years.
“This is a moment of grace, a moment of letting go,” the archbishop-designate said. “I have to let go of the Church of Orlando which I’ve grown to love very much." It is also "letting go to know that I will fall into good hands here."
He asked south Florida’s Catholics to pray that God will grant him the grace to be a “worthy successor” to those in whose footsteps he follows.
Archbishop Favalora, for his part, welcomed back Miami’s “native son … with resounding joy.”
“I have been privileged and blessed to serve as Metropolitan Archbishop of Miami for almost 16 years,” he said. “There is hardly a more exciting and challenging place than south Florida. As I move into retirement years, I bring with me very fond memories of my ministry with our dedicated priests and deacons, the wonderful religious and seminarians, and the faithful hard-working laity of the archdiocese.”
He said he looks forward to retirement. “I’m going to spend time reading, praying and working with the poor. No more meetings.”
The installation ceremony is set for June 1 in St. Mary Cathedral. At the end of June, Archbishop-designate Wenski will travel to Rome to receive the pallium — the symbol of his office as Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Florida — from Pope Benedict XVI.