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Remember when...? for February 2018

Archdiocese celebrates 60 years






Editor’s note: The following is a new feature highlighting a month in archdiocesan history, as the Miami archdiocese kicks off its 60th anniversary celebration. A“White Gala to Honor the White Collar” will take place Oct. 20, 2018, with proceeds benefiting the two local seminaries. Here are some of the historical highlights for February.


  • The diocese establishes a Diocesan Guild of Catholic Church Musicians for the advancement of liturgical music. The guild members will be all the organists and choir directors from parishes throughout the diocese, under the leadership of diocesan organist Clayton Brenneman.


  • Archbishop Coleman Carroll blesses the seventh building at St. John Vianney Seminary, consisting of a new dormitory and classrooms.


  • The first 50 students begin the two-year lay ministry formation program, offered in English and Spanish by the newly created Office of Lay Ministry, headed by Dr. Mercedes Scopetta.


  • On Feb. 6, the Vatican announces the appointment of two auxiliary bishops for Miami: Msgr. John J. Nevins, rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary, and Msgr. Agustin Roman, rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity. Msgr. Roman becomes the first Cuban to serve as a bishop in the U.S. in the past two centuries. Both bishops will be ordained March 24, 1979, before a crowd of more than 12,000 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.


  • Archbishop Edward McCarthy dedicates a building across the street from St. Mary Cathedral to serve as the Pierre Toussaint Haitian Catholic Center. Under the direction of Oblate Missionary Father Marcel Peloquin and assistant director Father Thomas Wenski, the center will offer spiritual, material and pastoral assistance to Miami’s burgeoning Haitian population, including English classes and child care.


  • As part of a five-year evangelization campaign, Archbishop McCarthy launches a Lenten Home Visitation program, urging all parishes to train volunteers to visit all the homes in their neighborhoods. The purpose of the visits is not to take a census, update parish records or ask for money, but simply to make people aware of the presence and concern of the parish, encourage the unchurched or those who are fallen away to join the faith community, and leave information with them on parishes services and archdiocesan activities.


  • Archdiocesan officials criticize a tentative proposal by the Reagan administration to offer about 125,000 Cuban refugees legal status while excluding 25,000 Haitians who came to the U.S. under what the officials said were similar circumstances. The administration’s proposal would give permanent residency and a chance to apply for citizenship in two-and-a-half years to Cubans who arrived during the Mariel boatlift. Both Cubans and Haitians were classified as “entrants, status pending,” upon arrival. The administration said the Cubans can be granted legal status because of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.


  • Jubilant crowds fill Miami’s streets and more than 3,000 gather for an outdoor Mass Feb. 9 at Notre Dame d’Haiti Church to celebrate the Feb. 7 overthrow of “Baby Doc” Duvalier as president of Haiti. The Mass is celebrated by Archbishop Edward McCarthy and Father Thomas Wenski, director of the Pierre Toussaint Haitian Center.
  • The Schott Center for the Deaf and Disabled dedicates its first permanent home, just off the intersection of Flamingo and Stirling Roads in Fort Lauderdale’s “ranch country.” The site of a former Protestant church houses offices, meeting rooms, a social hall and a church especially equipped for the handicapped, where Masses in sign language are celebrated each Sunday.


  • A thousand people gather at Notre Dame d'Haiti Church in Little Haiti for a Mass in support of Haitian refugees who have been denied asylum in the United States despite the political instability in their country. Close to 10,000 Haitians being held temporarily in Cuba's Guantanamo Base were returned to Haiti after a U.S. Supreme Court decision overturned lower court rulings that the Haitians were entitled to political asylum hearings.


  • A federally-funded tent city for people left homeless by Hurricane Andrew opened on land donated by the Archdiocese of Miami adjacent to St. Ann's Mission in Naranja. The Life and Family Support Center, funded by FEMA, will provide transitional housing and help in finding employment and permanent housing to about 1,000 South Dade residents who lost their homes during the storm.


  • In preparation for Lent, Archbishop McCarthy issues his 21st pastoral letter, "That We May Have Life and Have It Abundantly," an exhortation to Catholics to heed the "signs of a civilization gone rotten" and utilize the period of Lent to start working on a cure. "If the cells are seriously sick, society will be gravely ill. The best form of control in a society is the self-control of its individual members," the Archbishop wrote.


  • St. Thomas University’s Law School receives final accreditation from the American Bar Association. The law school, founded in 1984, is the only Catholic law school in the southeastern United States.


  • The Office of Lay Ministry marks its 20th anniversary with a Mass celebrated by its founder, retired Archbishop Edward McCarthy. He reiterated his reasons for establishing the office in 1977: To make the laity aware of their important role as “leaven” in the world; and to prepare them for it through theological formation.


  • Archbishop Thomas Wenski announces that St. Mary Star of the Sea in Key West, the oldest Catholic church in the archdiocese, has been designated a basilica by the Vatican; the first minor basilica in the archdiocese and only the fifth in the state of Florida.

Comments from readers

Dr. Carlos D. Coton - 02/22/2018 11:44 AM
The two "Remember When" articles so far have been amazing and a true time capsule experience. Just to go through the pages of "The Voice" brings back incredible memories of growing up in the then Diocese. Readers will find a surprise if you go to the reprint "Local News - Deaf, Handicapped Center Opens" and click on it. Check who appears on that first page from 1986! Blessings all and looking forward to the March segment.

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