At Mass for Cuba's patron, bishop asks for prayers for 'island in agony'

Friday, Sep. 17, 2021
By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON  — During a Sept. 8 homily marking the feast of Cuba’s patron saint, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Bishop Felipe J. Estevez of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla., called on Cubans on and off the island to choose forgiveness to help the island nation.

As a mother, “La Cachita,” the familiar name Cubans have given to the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Charity, knows what her children need and she knows “there is something that worries us and that steals our peace, something that saddens us, that distresses us,” said Bishop Estevez during an outdoor Mass in Spanish at the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami.

 Bishop Estevez was one of several U.S. prelates to mark the day, which is special to the Cuban Catholic community and even to Cubans who aren’t Catholic.

The Madonna is beloved even among Cuban nonbelievers. Pope Francis, who visited the island nation in 2015, extended a message to Cubans Sept. 8, saying he placed prayers at the feet of Our Lady of Charity for “the life, dreams, hopes, and sorrows of the Cuban people.” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel thanked him on Twitter for his wishes.

On Sept. 9, Diaz-Canel met Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley in Havana, The Associated Press reported, but the high-ranking prelate offered no comment on what was discussed or the purpose of his trip.

Cardinal O’Malley celebrated Mass the day before at the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre near Santiago. The AP report said he met with Cuban scientists working on a coronavirus vaccine and was heading back to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and then the Vatican.

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