Monday, April 15, 2013

The Legacy of Bishop Agustin Roman

“Change Swords of Steel into Swords of Truth” – Bishop Agustin A. Roman, Oakdale Federal Detention Center , November 29, 1987

Mass for Bishop Agustin Roman

On Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 3:00pm at La Ermita de la Caridad we saw in action during Mass how Cubans are one people united by the Virgin of Charity or as she is affectionately known "Cachita." Several hundred Cubans came together to remember and pray for Bishop Agustin Roman at a Mass officiated by Arch-Bishop Thomas Wenski to observe the one year of his passing.

Archbishop Wenski spoke about the life of Bishop Agustin Roman and how, like Peter, he was a fisher of men and then went onto explain how the late Bishop had planned to be fishing in Cuban waters but forced at gun point to board the Covadonga and go into exile to fish in Chilean and American waters. Arch-Bishop Thomas Wenski spoke about the origins of La Ermita de la Caridad:
"As Jesus Himself told St. Peter that someone would take him where he did not want to go. Father Aleido had to allow himself to be guided by the hands of God who called him to be not only a disciple but missionary - first in Chile and then here in Miami where by the initiative of the bishop at the time, Archbishop Coleman Carroll, built this chapel to the glory of God and the Virgin Mother of Jesus, and for the spiritual good of the Cuban exile. It was built by the sea whose waters also wash the shores of Cuba. Thus, we see ourselves how God's ways are inscrutable but are providential paths."
One of the last projects  Bishop Agustin Roman presided over was the construction of a small malecón inspired by the one in Havana just behind the La Ermita.

A few days ago Yoani Sanchez made the pilgrimage there and today Rosa Maria Payá and her brother Oswaldo Payá Acevedo took part in the Mass for Bishop Agustin Roman presenting a Cuban flag while Rafael Peñalver presented the plaque of a shiv taken from the prison riot that Bishop Roman ended nonviolently.
"But for the Cuban people, here in exile and on the island, Bishop Agustin Roman occupies a place of grateful honor. And in these days I have received from the Bishops of Cuba solidarity messages on the occasion of the Mass, and a very special thank you to the children of the late Oswaldo Paya, Rosa Maria and Osvaldo, present here today in this Chapel.

Augustine Roman was a son of Cuba - that country that José Martí described as "agony and duty." And if it is true that - as Luz y Caballeros - Father Felix Varela taught the Cuban people how to think, Bishop Roman, the Felix Valera of our time, taught us to pray, and pray unceasingly for the freedom of Cuba.

Maria Rosa, I know that your dad and Bishop Roman mutually admired each other. The times I met your father in Cuba he always called on me to greet Bishop Roman in his name. (And he also told me how happy he was when Father Rumin was appointed rector of the chapel). I hope that when you go back to Cuba that you tell Cubans on the island that despite the bitter divisions Cubans remain one people. May we continue to pray that "To Jesus through Mary charity unites us."
Bishop Agustin Roman never forgot his Cuban roots and maintained contact with the island and with many families there such as the Payá family. He also continued to pray for the freedom of Cuba and of Cuba’s political prisoners.

Father Rumin, Oswaldo Payá Acevedo, ArchBishop Wenski, Rosa Maria Payá
 Bishop Roman confronted those who systematically violated human rights and promoted hatred for the love of power with the power of love found in the Gospel. Arch-Bishop Thomas Wenski explained it in his homily:
"It is true that the world lives threatened by weapons of mass destruction, we Catholics in the rosary have a weapon of mass conversion. The response of Bishop Roman to the ideologies of hatred was the gospel of love. To a people abused and badly led by men consumed by the love of power, Bishop Roman proposed another way, the path of the power of love."
 The best way to conclude this entry are with the thoughts of Agustin Roman on the subject of love and charity within the Cuban context as he expressed them back in 2006:
Charity, that is love of God and of our brothers, because we have already seen too much the fruits of hate in our people. Because charity is what God wanted for us, sent to us over the sea the image of the Mother of his beloved Son under the inspiring nickname: the Mother of Charity, Mother Love, Mother of the country. If what we do for Cuba, we do not do for love, better not do it.

If all of us who want the good of the nation, of the important internal dissident movement and the persevering of exile arm ourselves with these virtues, we will be effective. If we are committed to not let personalism, or the passions dilute them, we will have won. If we keep them and transmit them to all our people, we will have secured for Cuba a happy future.

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