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Msgr. Tomás Marín, 62, ‘doctor of souls’

Medical doctor, priest, canon lawyer, chancellor, founded Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish

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Msgr. Tomás Marín: Born Oct. 31, 1956; ordained May 13, 1989; died Dec. 28, 2018.

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Msgr. Tomás Marín: Born Oct. 31, 1956; ordained May 13, 1989; died Dec. 28, 2018.

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 — 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 — Lane Tech — 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.

 

‘PIOUS DEEDS’

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 – such as the Tribunal and being chancellor – “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.

Comments from readers

Most Reverend Martin D. Holley - 01/04/2019 04:59 PM
My dear friend Monsignor Tomas Marin, may your soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in the peace of Christ. You have served the Lord well in this earthly life, may you now enjoy light, happiness and peace with the Lord in heaven. for all eternity. You will be greatly missed. May the Lord grant peace and consolation to your dear family.
Ana & Hector Gonzalez - 01/03/2019 04:03 PM
Our family knew the Msgr, as Tommy. We first met him and his family as a neighbor to our grand parents, , which he provided emotional support, they loved him as another grandson.This was when he was becoming a doctor. Our whole family attended his Ordination to Priesthood, we were so proud. During his sisters wedding reception my mother-in-law had a major hereheart attact, he was there to safe her. He was always there when we needed him for any illnesses and/or providing the last rites to all our family that needed it. In addition to that and most importantly he was always there to give us support, confort and spiritual guidance, The most recent and wonderful thing he did for me, was to Baptise my only Grandson. So many picture and memories with him and his Mother. Tommy, we will never forget you. We know that you are up there with God helping him with all the souls specially Nena, who is probably bossing you already. Que descanses en paz. 🙏🙏🙏
José María Reyesmartinez - 12/31/2018 10:35 AM
The last time I saw you was at your office in Biscayne blvd my dear friend, we had classes at UCE together (I always knew you become a priest ), had classes together with Dr Narula here in cardiology, always remember your smile., your laughter, miss you, should have seen you more often, I can see your smile now as I close my eyes, cuida de mi Tomasito, your friend always. Pepito
Grisell C Lazcano - 12/31/2018 09:37 AM
Descansa en paz padrecito. El cielo tiene una estrella mas.
William J. Del Castillo Reyes - 12/30/2018 04:24 PM
Ya estas descansando, Tomas, y estas con Nuestro Señor en vez de con nosotros. Ahora empieza tu segundo camino, luchar con los angeles en el Cielo y orar por nosotros igual que seguimos orando por ti. He was a priest like few and a man for others like fewer still. He will be sorely missed. As he always said....”Blessings”.
Fr. Joe Fishwick - 12/29/2018 11:31 PM
Rest In Peace, good and faithful servant. You were always kind and thoughtful, Msgr., and generous in the gift of your many talents. I hope to see you again in our real home, the Kingdom of our heavenly Father. Fr. Joe Fishwick
Maria P Huergo-Demartino - 12/29/2018 07:24 AM
Monsignior Marín helped me during the worst time of my life. My husband moved to heaven unexpectedly June 29,2017. Monsignior was caring and very supportive. He assisted me in my grief journey. With his help I became an extraordinary minister. Monsignior you will be missed but know you are in your true home.🙏🙏
JMR - 12/28/2018 11:57 PM
T✝️✝️✝️ My dear friend you are now resting and in good company above in Heaven, thank you for your amazing love towards your fellow humans, for your patience and wonderful way you taught in all your sermons, in every conversation not matter how igsinificant, for sharing your deep knowledge of church teachings, medicine, science and philosophy, Italian churches, art and the Vatican. Our St. Brendan parish 2002 Italy tour would not have been the same without you, at every stop we made you provided wealth of knowledge and a spiritual connection to the place and the teachings of our Catholic faith. I am sure you have touched countless souls on your journey thru this life and left immeasurable good memories, for me one of them was running into you and your mother on a Sunday afternoon at the Sunset Dr. & 87th Ave. Windixie as you customarily accompanied her on her weekly grocery shopping and witnessing how much love and respect you had for her while holding her arms, you still took the time to say hello to me and interact- a very powerful lesson on respect and dedication for our elders and to others. God bless! +++
Miguel Angel Ruiz - 12/28/2018 09:20 PM
Fr. Marin will be always remembered as our First Pastor and Founder our Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. Father, you were an exceptional person, a great priest, an outstanding administrator, a sharp spiritual director, and confessor.I will always remember you as a friend and as a mentor. We love you Father, we will miss you.
Rev. Phillip Tran - 12/28/2018 07:29 PM
Thank you for all the years of hard work and dedication, and for the time that you spent at st Augustine supporting our ministry at the University of Miami, God bless and look forward to seeing you in the next life.
Sr. Lucy Cardet, OSF - 12/28/2018 07:14 PM
I thank God for Msgr. Tomas Marin who served his Lord well. He knew the loving Mercy of God. May he enjoy seeing Him face to face. Peace and joy.
Ricardo Cervantes Sanchez - 12/28/2018 05:34 PM
Mis más sentidas condolencias a todos en la Arquidiócesis de Miami por el eterno Descanso de Mons. Tomás Marín. Que nuestro Señor le muestre su rostro y brille para él la luz perpetua. Gracias Mons. Marín por todas sus atenciones y dedicación. Mons. Mario E Mestril Vega Obispo Emérito de la Diócesis de Ciego de Ávila, Cuba.
Maria Isabel de León - 12/28/2018 04:59 PM
We grieve as we honor the life and memory of Msgr. Marin, a dear friend of our family. During his tenure as pastor of St. Timothy Catholic Church, I had the opportunity to work with him as principal of the school. It was there that I witnessed first-hand his caring nature for the community and his pastoral work. Our church has lost a faithful servant and leader. May the Lord hold you very closely in his loving arms Msgr.
Mary Doyle - 12/28/2018 04:02 PM
I know the Lord greeted Monsignor with “well done my good and faithful servant”. He will be missed by so many, I am keeping his family in prayer.
Alfredo de La Fe - 12/28/2018 03:16 PM
We have lost a great friend and great priest. You have touch so many in so many different ways. You will be greatly missed my friend.
Morela Aguerrevere - 12/28/2018 03:13 PM
Cuanto siento su partida. Le debo a él el fortalecimiento de mi fe y le agradeceré eternamente como nos acogió en su bella parroquia de el Doral. Bendijo nuestra primera casa en USA y bautizó a nuestros dos nietos alemanes. Le recordaremos con gran cariño y elevamos nuestras oraciones por su inmediato encuentro con el Señor y para que su madre sienta el calor y aprecio de quienes la conocimos. QEPD
Alejandro "Alex" Capote - 12/28/2018 02:54 PM
I have lost a friend and mentor. We have lost a good and faithful pastor. You will be greatly missed, Msgr. Tomas Marin. RIP, good and faithful servant. Thank you for your love and service to our Lord Jesus Christ.
María Elena Larrea OSF - 12/28/2018 02:09 PM
We lost a great man and a good friend. He was an extraordinary priest, great advisor, mentor and servant of God and His Church. Rest In Peace Monsignor.

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