A week after his death, stories on the impact of retired Auxiliary Bishop Agustin Roman of Miami – known as a leader of Cuban exiles in the U.S. – continue to emerge.
Bishop Roman passed away the evening of April 11 in Miami after suffering a heart attack outside the local Shrine of Our Lady of Charity.
In an April 17 recollection, Julio Hernandez of the Christian Liberation Movement remembered a special encounter he had with the late bishop that demonstrated his insight and immense pastoral care.
He recalled Bishop Roman's intervention during an intense argument between Cuban exiles in Miami on the purpose of the Varela Project, which called for a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba.
On “that occasion, the Felix Varela Hall was overflowing with the opinions of both sides and the atmosphere was quite heated,” Hernandez said.
However, “at the end of the meeting, Bishop Roman took the floor and addressed those gathered in a calm and peaceful tone.”
“I was born in the country,” he began. “I come from a rural family, we were poor and we were sustained in part by a cow which gave us milk each day to drink. I was a child and I remember clearly that one day the cow swallowed a mango, causing a real tragedy. All of our neighbors came to try to remove the mango from our beloved cow’s throat, but their efforts were futile.”
“The hands of these people from the countryside, which so skillfully worked the fields, were incapable at that time of resolving the situation…My father had an idea…with the help of his friends, they were able to hold the cow’s mouth open and he said to me, 'Son, stick your little hand in and try to pull the mango out,' and I did. Because of this, our cow was saved and our breakfast was guaranteed for a long time,” Bishop Roman said.
“And so also for a long time we have awaited a solution, a means to achieve freedom for Cuba. Up to now, we have not been able to, and when we least expect it, a little hand will show up that will open the doors of freedom to us.”
“God uses what is small to do great things,” he emphasized. “Divided we are not going to pull the mango out of the cow, but if we join together we will truly be able to shape our future.”
Hernandez recalled that “an absolute silence” engulfed the room after the pastor had spoken.
“What a great privilege to have had him as part of our lives!” he concluded in his statement on the bishop. “What a great blessing!”