Friday, December 28, 2018
Ana Rodriguez Soto - Florida Catholic newspaper
MIAMI | Medical doctor, priest, canon lawyer: Msgr. Tomás Marín possessed a brilliant mind and a seemingly endless capacity for work.
Just four years after his ordination he was named archdiocesan chancellor, a position he held for a decade. At the same time, he served as defender of the bond and judge in the Metropolitan Tribunal. He continued to help in the Tribunal, and serve as chancellor, after being named founding pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Doral.
Under his leadership, the city’s first Catholic parish attracted more than 3,000 families from 44 countries in a short time. He also established a tradition of welcoming all visitors at each Mass with a special song and a holy card of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Msgr. Marín died early in the morning Dec. 28 of complications from treatment for cancer, which had been diagnosed in 2017. He had been a priest for nearly 30 years, and was now serving as pastor at St. Augustine Church in Coral Gables.
“In spite of his illness and the treatments, he continued working in the parish. He died with his boots on,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who visited Msgr. Marín in the hospital the Sunday before Christmas.
Msgr. Marín had planned to be back in the parish in January, and voiced his concern that he had not scheduled priests to cover for him that month. “I told him, don’t worry, Tom, I’ll take care of it,” Archbishop Wenski recalled. “As a matter of fact, he is home, but not the one here.”
Archbishop Wenski noted that Msgr. Marín was the main caregiver for his elderly mother and had helped pay his sister’s way through medical school after their father died in 1983. “He was a good priest, a faithful son and a loving brother.”
‘DOCTOR OF SOULS’
“The archdiocese has lost a good pastor and doctor of souls,” said Archbishop Emeritus John C. Favalora, who worked with Msgr. Marín throughout most of his time as chancellor. “His ministry as chancellor and pastor reflected his medical training as a [board-certified] cardiologist as well as his legal training as a Church lawyer. He was both caring and competent, and especially so with the sick and dying when that tender side of his personality was highlighted.
“I thank God for his many gifts and talents,” Archbishop Favalora continued. “I am especially grateful for his painstakingly delicate work in assisting me to implement the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People â€” a most unpleasant task he dutifully performed with courage, balance and grace.”
Antonio Fernández, a founding parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe, recalled that Msgr. Marín could be curt with people, and sometimes quick-tempered. “But despite that, the people loved him. Because when you needed him, he was there. He was honest and transparent. He never spoke ill of another person or another priest.”
Fernández suspects that Msgr. Marín retained a soft spot in his heart for the parish, whose early struggles included finding and buying land on which to build as well as schools in which to celebrate weekend Masses.
“They would close one school and he already had another one in mind,” Fernández said.
He noted that within a few hours of posting the news about Msgr. Marín’s death on Facebook, nearly 100 people had commented or shared the post. “He was a man who had a way of reaching people,” Fernández said.
The bishops of Cuba also were among those offering condolences. Msgr. Marín had worked closely as chancellor with Caritas Cuba and Catholic Relief Services to send medicines to the island. He also developed a great friendship with Bishop Arturo González of Santa Clara, the diocese where Msgr. Marín was born.
In a letter faxed to Archbishop Wenski on behalf of Cuba’s bishops, Bishop Emilio Aranguren of Holguín, president of the bishops' conference, called Msgr. Marín “a dear brother” who “knew how to unite his double vocation as doctor and priest for the good of so many,” including “those who were welcomed by him, guided, supported and accompanied that they might recover their physical and spiritual health.”
Archbishop Wenski explained that Msgr. Marín served on the board of the archdiocesan Health Plan, and was especially solicitous when the bishops of Cuba came to Miami for health care.
“His background as a physician was very useful in that, as well as his position, to make sure that all the proper doors were opened,” Archbishop Wenski said.
MORE NEED FOR PRIESTS
Born Oct. 31, 1956, in Santa Clara, Cuba, Tomás Manuel Marín came to the United States at the age of 4 with his parents. The family settled in Chicago. In an interview with the Florida Catholic for a “Building the City of God” profile, he said he first heard the call to priesthood in fifth grade at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School, where he was an altar server.
But a teacher advised him to put off the seminary and attend a “prestigious” Chicago public high school â€” Lane Tech â€” that focused on math and science. After high school, he pursued studies in medicine, completing a pre-med degree at the University of Illinois, Chicago, before going to school at the Universidad Central del Este in the Dominican Republic. During his first year there, there was a huge explosion at a sugar mill.
“The 400 men who were burned kept asking for a priest. The only priest was away at a mission. It was very clear to me, seeing all of the doctors and the nurses and 123 men dying, that there was more need for priests than there was for doctors,” he recalled.
Nevertheless, he finished medical school in 1981, completing his residency at the University of Miami with a specialization in cardiology. He worked in South Florida, as a cardiology technician and researcher, until 1985, when he entered St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Miami May 13, 1989. In 1993, he obtained a degree in canon law from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
His first assignment was as parochial vicar at St. Agatha in Miami, from 1989 to 1991. After two years of higher studies in Washington, D.C., he served as archdiocesan chancellor from May 1993 to June 2003. At the same time, he served in various capacities at the Metropolitan Tribunal, including judge and defender of the bond.
He also served on various boards, including that of Catholic Hospice, Villa Maria and Catholic Health Services, as well as the board of advisors of Belen Jesuit school in Miami. He served as a chaplain for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and the Knights of Columbus and on the archdiocese’s Presbyteral Council, the body of priests who advise the archbishop.
In 2001, he was named administrator of the newly founded Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Doral, guiding the parish through its first nine years. In June 2010, he was named pastor of St. Timothy Church in Miami. He served there until being named pastor of St. Augustine in July 2016.
In 2015, the Cuban Association of the Order of Malta, where he served as chaplain for many years, honored him with its Cross Pro Merito Melitensi, “for pious deeds.”
Juan O’Naghten, the Cuban Association’s vice-president, said at the time that Msgr. Marín had been key to assisting the group in establishing its works in Cuba. “He also has assisted us in finding physician volunteers who will go on the medical missions, and in fact has gone on them himself.”
Msgr. Marín received the title of “chaplain to his Holiness” (monsignor) in October 2001. Archbishop Favalora noted at the time that “it is the dream of every young man who goes to the seminary to become a pastor of souls, to be his own boss in his own parish.”
Chancery work â€“ such as the Tribunal and being chancellor â€“ “takes you away from what you were ordained to do,” Msgr. Marín said then. “But you do it as a service to the diocese. This is something that needs to be done. I’m just glad that I can do it.”
When he applied to the seminary at the age of 32, Msgr. Marín replied to a question about what he found to be the most “appealing” part of the priesthood this way: “to help people know their faith and being able to say the Mass, because this is the closest one can be to God.”
Msgr. Marín is survived by his mother, Maria Elena Marín; his sister, Rosa Elena Marín and her husband, who are both physicians living in Orlando; and a niece and two nephews.
A viewing has been scheduled for Friday, Jan. 4, from 6 to 10 p.m., at St. Augustine Church, 1400 Miller Road, Coral Gables, with a prayer service at 8 p.m. The funeral Mass will be celebrated Saturday, Jan. 5, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe, 11691 N.W. 25 St., Doral, with burial afterward at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery next door.
Correction: Msgr. Tomás Marín was a board-certified cardiologist, not a pediatric cardiologist. The change has been noted in Archbishop Emeritus John C. Favalora's statement.