The auxiliary bishops of Havana

Catedral de La Habana

After reviewing for a few months the life, ministry and other aspects of interest of the bishops and archbishops of Havana, during the twentieth century, we will develop a series of articles to also address the auxiliary bishops of this archdiocese.
The figure with which these reviews begin is Msgr. Buenaventura Broderick (1868-1943). He was born in the United States and was appointed auxiliary bishop of Msgr. Pedro González Estrada. In this function he lasted just over a year, as the Habanero bishop, the first Cuban to occupy this square, did not understand his way of life, which continued in the American style. He decided to leave for his native country, but there his brothers from the episcopate did not take him in. He had to go to work at a gas station, where he remained until 1939 when the Archbishop of New York discovered it. He was soon appointed vicar general and assigned a chaplainy of nuns.
Msgr. Buenaventura Broderick was born in Connecticut, United States. He went to study in Rome and ordained a priest in 1897. In the eternal city he began a methodical ecclesiastical career until on October 28, 1903 he received episcopal ordination in the Havana cathedral as auxiliary bishop of Juiliópolis and assistant to Msgr. Pedro González Estrada, who, in the same celebration, was ordained first Bishop of Havana. He resigned from his post as auxiliary bishop on 9 January 1905. He died in late 1943.
On the occasion of Cardinal Francis Spellman’s invitation to rejoin his priestly life, Msgr. Broderick said: “No one approached me before, no one showed me any kind of attention, so this action, as done by Christ himself. will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life.”

Alfredo Muller San Martín (1902-1993)
On 6 June 1948 he was ordained auxiliary bishop of Havana by Cardinal Manuel Arteaga and, previously, on March 13 of the same year, Pope Pius XII appointed him titular bishop of Anea de Ephesus. In Havana he was until March 1959 when he was transferred to Cienfuegos, after being appointed by the Vatican, apostolic administrator full seat of that diocese. He was one of the signatory bishops of the wise pastoral care of 7 August 1960. Nearly a year later, on 6 April 1961, Pope John XXIII appointed him Bishop of Cienfuegos. In this responsibility he remained until July 1970. During his eleven years he had to live very difficult situations, as eleven days after his appointment the invasion of Girón occurred. Soon after, the nationalization of Catholic schools would take place and four months later, the expulsion from the country of many priests from his diocese on the ship Covadonga. All of the above was in addition to the radical turn that the Cuban Revolution had given on April 16, 1961, when it was declared socialist.

El entonces obispo auxiliar Alfredo Müller, a la derecha de la foto, junto al cardenal Manuel Arteaga Betancourt.
The then auxiliary bishop Alfredo Muller, to the right of the photo, with Cardinal Manuel Arteaga Betancourt.

As a result, It was Mons Muller’s turn to lead a Church in the midst of a situation for which he was un prepared. Like other bishops at the time, he had a heroic task, for he had the merit, together with the priests, religious and laity of that time, of living the Christian faith at the beginning of the establishment of a Marxist-Leninist system with abundant laggards of Stalinism. We have all maintained the life of the Church in this difficult period of Cuba’s ecclesiastical history.
In his eleven years as auxiliary bishop of Havana, he collaborated with Cardinal Arteaga in the administration of the sacrament of confirmation, in ecclesiastical and governmental acts delegated to him by the Cardinal. During the months when the elder cardinal’s mental health worsened, he held some priestly edations. In his role as auxiliary bishop of Havana, he added that of vicar general of this archdiocese while still being parish priest of the church of El Salvador, in his beloved Cerro, the only parish he had since 1927, when he had been ordained a priest, Msgr. Manuel Ruiz assigned him this pastoral responsibility. Interestingly, he had been baptized in that parish, because he lived in the neighborhood of Cerro, where he was born and where his father also practiced as a doctor.
Msgr. Muller was born on October 4, 1902. He studied at the Seminary San Carlos and San Ambrosio. To him we owe the beautiful and true expression: “In the Seminary Cuba was born”. Logically he referred to the thought of Varela, Luz, Romay, Luz and Knight, Saco, Mendive, who not only thought of Cuba, but did so from the authentic Christian faith.
On 24 April 1969, Pope Paul VI appointed Archbishop Francis Oves as auxiliary bishop of Cienfuegos; in February 1970, Msgr. Oves was appointed Archbishop of Havana. In July 1970, the Pope himself, St Paul VI, appointed Archbishop Muller as an apostolic full-seat administrator, Father Fernando Prego, who on 16 July of the following year was appointed bishop of that diocese, and Msgr. Muller was assigned the title of Bishop Emeritus. In that city he lived until his death on September 2, 1993.
He never lost the affection of Catholics, 100. Already as bishop Emeritus attended his mass daily in the cathedral and on Sundays he celebrated the Eucharist in the village of Caonao. He is buried in the Tomás Asea cemetery in Cienfuegos.
More than a meteorology buff, Msgr. Muller was an investigator and an understanding of this hundred-cia. He knew perfectly the laws of tropical cyclonology discovered in the second half of the nineteenth century by the Spanish Jesuit priest Benito Viñes, director of the observatory of the College of Bethlehem, which at that time was located in Old Havana. The Academy of Sciences of Cuba appreciated the scholarly work of Msgr. Muller, which is why, two months before his death, he was invited to an event in Havana to honor Father Viñes. At the end of this meeting, each participant was given a minute to say a few words. When it was the turn of the elder bishop, he said: “Long live Father Viñes! Long live the Society of Jesus! Long live Cuba, my dear homeland!” Thus Archbishop Alfredo Muller San Martín said goodbye to this life.

José Maximino Domínguez Rodríguez (1915-1986)
He was born in Havana on May 29 and was baptized in the parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad. He entered the Seminary San Carlos y San Ambrosio and was sent by Msgr. Manuel Ruiz to study at the Gregorian University of Rome, where he graduated in Theology. Returning to Cuba he was ordained a priest by Cardinal Manuel Arteaga in the parish of the Spirit San

Monseñor José Maximino Domínguez Rodríguez.
Monsignor José Maximino Domínguez Rodríguez.

to, of which Msgr. Dominguez was parishioners. In Havana she served as chancellor of the archdiocese and consilycar of the women’s branch of Catholic Action.
On May 15, 1960, together with Msgr. Eduardo Boza Masvidal, he was ordained bishop, both acting as assistants to Msgr. Evelio Díaz, coadjutor archbishop of Havana with the right to succession. He was one of the signatory bishops of the circular of the Cuban episcopate dated August 7, 1960.
On the death of Msgr. Martín Villaverde, on 4 November 1960, Pope John XXIII appointed him Bishop of Matanzas on 18 July 1961. He was one of the Cuban bishops attending the four sessions of the Second Vatican Council.
The diocese of Matanzas was characterized at the time by the development of the liturgy commission, in front of which Was Father Juan Manuel Machado (1993) and catechesis, chaired by Father Jaime Ortega. As bishop, Msgr. Dominguez greatly stimulated the participation of the laity in the ecclesiastical activity of the territory. At that time, the Matancera diocese became a reference point of the Cuban Church.
In April 1969, Msgr. Dominguez was one of the signatory bishops of the pastoral communiqué on which I spoke in the article dedicated to Msgr. Francisco Oves, which called on the Catholic faithful to participate in the economic development of the country. It is said that when Msgr. Evelio Díaz resigned as Archbishop of Havana, Msgr. Dominguez was asked to come to this Archdiocese, but he declined the request. He presided over the Episcopal Conference of Cuba from 1973 to 1976.
An intelligent and studious man, his personal library was nourished by recently published books, which he bought as few times as he left the country. He participated in the 1986 Cuban National Ecclesial Meeting (ENEC). He died of a heart attack in the city of Matanzas on 11 December 1986.

Msgr. Eduardo Boza Masvidal (1915-2003)
He was born in the city of Camaguey in 1915. As a child he came to reside in Havana. Here he was a student of the Colegio de La Salle del Vedado. In 1935 he entered the Seminary San Carlos and San Ambrosio. He had previously militated in the University Catholic Group, led by the unforgettable Spanish Jesuit priest Felipe Rey de Castro. Many Lay Catholics came out of the ACU who lived their faith engaged in Cuban society at the time. The ACU was a catholic-avant-garde lay congregation at the university and in society. The young Boza, already a doctor of Philosophy and Letters, was ordained a priest in 1944 by Cardinal Manuel Arteaga. He was appointed, first, coadjutor priest of the parish of Cerro. Later, parish priest of Madruga and in 1948, parish priest of Our Lady of Charity in Havana. There he developed his admirable pastoral activity until September 1961 when he was deported from his homeland.

Monseñor Eduardo Boza Masvidal en la época en que fue obispo auxiliar de La Habana.
Monsignor Eduardo Boza Masvidal at the time when he was auxiliary bishop of Havana.

Defender of the revolutionaries opposed to president Batista’s government, following the triumph of the 1st. January 1959 said: “No Cuban can haggle today with his effort and cooperation in restructuring a new homeland […] We don’t always have to be looking back on the past […] The great guidelines of the Revolution and its future projects manifested by its greatest leader, envelop fundamental Christian principles […]”. In November 1959, at the request of Msgr. Evelio Díaz, Pope John XXIII appointed Boza, along with other Pinarian and Haban priests, monseigneth.
In the early 1960s, he was appointed rector of the Catholic University of Santo Tomás de Villanueva, located in the present municipality Playa, with the aim of smoothing the roughness that existed among the American Augustin priests who owned that center of high studies and the revolutionary government. The Church thought that with Father Boza’s revolutionary record, this problem would be solved. But it wasn’t.
On May 15, 1960, he was ordained as auxiliary bishop of Havana with Msgr. Dominguez. In this way, Msgr. Evelio Díaz would have two auxiliary bishops, who would support him in his work, which was ever wider given the great vitality that the Catholic Church in Cuba had achieved by 1960. He was one of the signatory bishops of the ecclesial and patriotic pastoral of the Cuban episcopate of August 7, 1960. In November of his own year he wrote an article entitled “Is the social revolution being verified in Cuba Christian?” From this text, we take up a fragment: “We Catholics are not against revolution, to which we greatly help, and we want the great social transformations that Cuba needs, but we cannot want or support the materialistic and totalitarian communism that would be the most resounding denial of the ideals for which so many Cubans fought and for which so many Cubans died.”
Msgr. Boza recounts in his autobiographical notes, a book published after his death, from which some specimens have circulated in the country, the events of the Church of Charity of Havana on Sunday, September 10, 1961. There he describes, as the protagonist he was, the riots that day outside the temple, which attempted to resume the scheduled procession of the Patron of Cuba, for which the government had withdrawn permission on the morning of that day.
Msgr. Boza tried unsuccessfully to appease the faithful. The events of the Church of Charity triggered the prison of 231 Cuban priests from different parts of the country during the following days, including that of Msgr. Boza himself. Previously, on the days of the landing in Playa Girón, Msgr. Boza, together with Msgr. Evelio Díaz, were taken prisoner in the colosseum of Havana’s Sports City until the first days of May 1961. On 17 September of the same year, the ship Covadonga sailed from the Habanero pier, on which Msgr. Boza was deported along with 230 priests.
After the ship arrived in Santander, Spain, the auxiliary bishop of Havana, he went to Venezuela to the diocese of Los Teques, where he served as vicar general until his death on March 18, 2003.
Msgr. Boza was the continuous priestly animator of Cuban Catholics who lived outside his homeland, along with them and with them he founded the society of Cubans in exile. His Cubanity and personal holiness backed his paternal work. He attended the four sessions of the Second Vatican Council as Cuban bishop. In November 1987, the Revolutionary Government granted him permission to come for a few days to his beloved and longed-for homeland without conditions of any kind. Boza wouldn’t have accepted them. He held masses in the Church of Charity, in Havana, in Camaguey and in El Cobre; he also held encounters with the clergy of those places. He did not retract the principles that had sustained his life. In January 1998, on the occasion of the pastoral visit of St. John Paul II, he returned to Cuba. I had the privilege of accompanying him to his entrance to the University of Havana in the afternoon when the Pope gave his speech in the Aula Magna, on January 23. I was thrilled when, as I entered with Msgr. Boza, young university Catholics applauded him and repeatedly shouted, “Boza, Boza!” The octogenarian bishop, humbly, continued his already slow walk. Within a few days, he left Cuba for Venezuela.
I had another privilege. In the early days of August 2002, I was invited to preach a spiritual retreat to Cuban priests residing in the United States and Puerto Rico, held in the latter country. There, in the front row, were the monsignors Agustín Román, Cuban, Bishop Emeritus of Miami and Boza Masvidal. They took notes of what I preached as if they were young seminarians. I was sorry for him.
Msgr. Boza is buried in the cathedral church of Los Teques. The sanctity of his life has been commented on by Cubans and Venezuelans who met and lived with this great bishop. His cause of canonization has already been introduced for some years, so, with all those of canon law, he should be called Servant of God. Therefore, pleas for intercession before God can be made. Ω

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