Agustin Roman, Bishop Who Led Cuban Exiles, Is Dead at 83

| Friday, April 13th, 2012 | No Comments »

Article originally appeared in the Associated PressMIAMI — Auxiliary Bishop Agustin A. Roman, who was expelled from Cuba in 1961 with other Roman Catholic priests and became the spiritual leader of Miami’s Cuban exile community, died here on Wednesday. He was 83.

The cause was a heart attack, the Archdiocese of Miami said. He had suffered from heart disease for several years.

Bishop Roman, the first Cuban to be appointed a bishop in the United States, served as a mediator during the Mariel boatlift in 1980, when Fidel Castro allowed more than 100,000 Cubans to flee by sea to the United States. He also helped negotiate a peaceful end to the 1987 riots of Cuban detainees at federal prisons in Georgia and Louisiana. He later sought to persuade Cuban-Americans to support asylum for Haitian refugees.

During his early years in Miami, he urged exiles to donate what little they could afford to build the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity on Biscayne Bay. The shrine attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and remains a gathering point for many Cuban-Americans during moments of political crisis.

After being expelled from Cuba, Bishop Roman went first to Spain and then to Chile before arriving in Miami in 1966. He was appointed auxiliary bishop in 1979 and retired when he turned 75 in 2003, as required under canon law.

He remained active at the shrine, where he greeted visitors and responded to letters from fellow Cuban exiles.

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