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'Native son' comes home

Orlando Bishop Thomas Wenski returns to Miami as successor to Archbishop John C. Favalora

Archbishop-designate Thomas Wenski, currently bishop of Orlando and formerly a Miami priest and auxiliary bishop, stands next to Archbishop John C. Favalora, left, at the start of the press conference where it was announced that he had been named fourth archbishop of Miami.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Archbishop-designate Thomas Wenski, currently bishop of Orlando and formerly a Miami priest and auxiliary bishop, stands next to Archbishop John C. Favalora, left, at the start of the press conference where it was announced that he had been named fourth archbishop of Miami.


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.

Miami's Archbishop-designate Thomas Wenski poses for the camera after celebrating Mass at St. Martha Church

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Miami's Archbishop-designate Thomas Wenski poses for the camera after celebrating Mass at St. Martha Church

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.

Archbishop John C. Favalora processes out of St. Martha Church after celebrating Mass on the day it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had accepted his request to retire. Archbishop Favalora will turn 75 in December.

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Archbishop John C. Favalora processes out of St. Martha Church after celebrating Mass on the day it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had accepted his request to retire. Archbishop Favalora will turn 75 in December.

“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.

Miami's Archbishop-designate Thomas Wenski greets well-wishers after celebrating Mass at St. Martha Church

Photographer: ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC

Miami's Archbishop-designate Thomas Wenski greets well-wishers after celebrating Mass at St. Martha Church


Comments from readers

Paul D. Otero - 04/20/2010 07:53 PM
“They are filled with new wine.” (Acts 2:13).

With God’s blessings we bid farewell to Archbishop John Favalora wishing him only the very best in his journey and joyfully “Welcome Home” the designated Archbishop Tomas Wenski. Both have shared the “new wine” and come to fulfill the circle with God’s promise, being a symbol of Christ light.

We are now called to rise anew as a Church with Archbishop Wenski to continue shining God’s light.

“Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” (Mt. 3:15).

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