While I was talking with a deacon friend this afternoon about the Zavala bombshell in Los Angeles, he reminded me of the case of Atlanta Archbishop Eugene Marino, who found himself in similar circumstances over 20 years ago.
From the Georgia Bulletin:
Archbishop Marino was the ranking African-American member of the Catholic hierarchy when he stepped aside as archbishop of Atlanta in May 1990, stating that he was suffering from exhaustion and stress. He submitted his resignation to the pope in July 1990 and Bishop James P. Lyke, OFM, was appointed as apostolic administrator and later as the next archbishop of Atlanta. In August the public learned that Archbishop Marino had acknowledged having had an inappropriate relationship with Vicki Long, a single mother who had previously made a court claim against another priest.
After his resignation, Archbishop Marino went into seclusion, under spiritual direction and psychiatric and medical care for severe stress.
In a 1996 interview with Catholic News Service, he said he had been a chaplain for the Sisters of Mercy in Alma, Mich., prior to joining St. Vincent’s in July 1995.
In his work in the outpatient program, Archbishop Marino said in the interview, he did not draw on his personal experience in any major way when he worked with priests who were patients there.
“It’s not about me,” he said. “It has to be about them and how God’s grace is working in the process of their lives.”
Father Kearns said Archbishop Marino also had been leading two retreats for priests each year. Although he had “many, many requests from bishops” to conduct other retreats, he limited the number to two so as not to interfere with his work, the priest added.
Gerard O’Connor, who served as the archbishop’s master of ceremonies for the two years he was in Atlanta, said that he was privileged to reestablish their friendship in recent years as they both were “working with priests helping them to get recovery through 12-Step programs and other therapies.” The archbishop was to speak at Guest House, the program for which O’Connor now works, in the spring of 2001.
Archbishop Marino’s spiritual direction of the program at St. Vincent’s was filling a great need in the church, O’Connor said. “He came with such woundedness and out of that came such healing,” O’Connor said. “He was able to give that to guys who came to him.”
“He was always a priest,” he added. “He never stopped his ministry as a priest. I think it was far stronger. He had nothing to hide anymore.”
Last September O’Connor and his wife, Shay, went to a Mass celebrated by Cardinal John O’Connor of New York for the archbishop’s 25th anniversary of ordination as a bishop. The Mass for the archbishop, his family and a few of his co-workers was celebrated in Our Lady’s Chapel at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and was followed by a dinner hosted by the cardinal at his residence.
The cardinal, who was the homilist, “addressed what had happened in Atlanta in a spiritual and pastoral way,” O’Connor said. “He talked about how we could fill our lives with everything that is not God, but the only thing that really fills our lives is God … He said it was such a grace from God for (Archbishop Marino) because it had brought him closer to God.”
The cardinal also said that he was honored to have the archbishop ministering in New York. Archbishop Marino was “so humbled by the cardinal’s words,” O’Connor said. “The healing that happened in that chapel that night was tangible.”
Let’s keep Gibino Zavala — and all priests — in our prayers.