Thomas Wenski

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Thomas Gerard Wenski
Archbishop of Miami
Abp Thomas Wenski.jpg
AppointedApril 20, 2010
InstalledJune 1, 2010
PredecessorJohn Clement Favalora
OrdinationMay 15, 1976
by Coleman Carroll
ConsecrationSeptember 3, 1997
by John Favalora, Edward A. McCarthy, and Agustin Roman
Personal details
Birth nameThomas Gerard Wenski
Born (1950-10-18) October 18, 1950 (age 68)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Previous postBishop of Orlando (2004–10)
Coadjutor Bishop of Orlando (2003–04)
Auxiliary Bishop of Miami (1997–2003)
Styles of
Thomas Gerard Wenski
Coat of arms of Thomas Gerard Wenski.svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleArchbishop
Ordination history of
Thomas Wenski
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated byJohn Favalora (Miami)
DateSeptember 3, 1997
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Thomas Wenski as principal consecrator
Gregory ParkesJune 5, 2012
Peter BaldacchinoMarch 19, 2014

Thomas Gerard Wenski (born October 18, 1950) is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He was appointed Archbishop of Miami by Pope Benedict XVI on April 20, 2010 and was installed on June 1, 2010.[1][2][3] He previously served as Bishop of Orlando (2004–2010), coadjutor bishop of Orlando (2003–04), and auxiliary bishop of Miami (1997–2003).[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Wenski was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, to Chester and Louise (née Zawacki) Wenski.[5] His father was born in Poland with the last name "Wiśniewski", and came to the United States with his parents in 1910 at age 2.[6] The family eventually adopted the Anglicized version, "Wenski".[6] Both Chester and Louise were raised in the Polish neighborhoods of Detroit, Michigan, but moved to Florida after their marriage.[6] Together they ran a business spray-painting stucco houses.[5]

Wenski was raised in Lake Worth, where he attended Sacred Heart School.[7] He decided to become a priest in the third grade, later recalling, "I never imagined myself as anything else; it was what God wanted me to do, although I sometimes vacillated on whether I wanted to do it."[8] At age 13, he entered St. John Vianney Seminary in Miami.[5][9] During his twelve years at the seminary, he was a self-described "very liberal seminarian," questioning Catholic teaching on clerical celibacy and the ordination of women.[5] His views eventually became more conservative through his experience working with Cuban immigrants and reading about communism in Poland and Cuba.[5] He graduated from St. John Vianney, in 1970 with an associate's degree.[10]

Wenski then began his studies in philosophy and theology at St. Vincent de Paul Minor Seminary in Boynton Beach.[7][11] He there earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy (1972) and a Master of Divinity degree (1975).[7] He later received a Master of Arts degree from the School of Sociology of Fordham University in 1993,[12] and took summer courses at the Catholic University of Lublin in Poland.[7]


Wenski was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Miami by Archbishop Coleman Carroll on May 15, 1976.[4] His first assignment was as an associate pastor at Corpus Christi Church in Miami,[13] where he remained for three years.[7] At Corpus Christi, he took an interest in the Haitian parishioners who attended Mass in Creole, and was sent to Haiti to study Creole and Haitian culture.[5] When he returned to Miami in 1979, he was appointed to a Haitian apostolate operating out of the Cathedral of Saint Mary.[5] Wenski then served as associate director and later director of the Pierre Toussaint Haitian Catholic Center in Miami until 1997.[7] He also served concurrently as pastor of three Haitian parishes in the archdiocese: Notre-Dame d'Haiti Church in Miami,[14] Divine Mercy Church in Fort Lauderdale, and St. Joseph in Pompano Beach.[5] His outreach to the Haitian Catholic community in Miami was met with staunch opposition by Haitian priest and activist Gérard Jean-Juste, who later came to regard Wenski as an ally.[5] He also befriended Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a now laicized priest who later became the first democratically elected President of Haiti,[5] declaring voodoo to be a recognized religion in 2003.[15]

Wenski celebrated the weekly Mass in English for shut-ins at WPLG, the local ABC affiliate, from 1992 to 1997, and directed the Ministry to Non-Hispanic Ethnic Groups.[7] He became an adjunct professor at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in 1994.[16] In January 1996, he was named director of the archdiocesan Catholic Charities.[7] In this capacity, he helped form a relationship with Caritas Cuba, the social service arm of the Catholic Church in Cuba. Later that year, he spearheaded a relief operation that delivered over 150,000 pounds (68,000 kg) of food to Caritas Cuba for distribution to people left homeless by Hurricane Lili.[7]


Auxiliary Bishop of Miami[edit]

On June 24, 1997, Wenski was appointed auxiliary bishop of Miami and titular bishop of Kearney by Pope John Paul II.[4] He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 3 from Archbishop John Favalora, with Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy and Bishop Agustin Roman serving as co-consecrators, at the Miami Arena.[4] He selected as his episcopal motto: "All Things to All Men" (1 Corinthians 9:22).[17] As an auxiliary bishop, he served as episcopal vicar for Broward and Monroe Counties.[8]

In addition to his episcopal duties, Wenski served on numerous boards including Catholic Hospice, Catholic Charities, Catholic Charities Legal Services, and St. Thomas University. He served as chair of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (1998–2001),[18] and of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration (2001–2004).[7][19] He also served on the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and the Coordinating Council of Broward, and was appointed by Florida governor Jeb Bush to the Florida Council on Homelessness, in 2001, and the Task Force on Haiti in 2004.[7]

Bishop of Orlando[edit]

Wenski was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Orlando on July 1, 2003.[4] His installation took place on August 22 of that year.[4] Following the retirement of Bishop Norbert Dorsey, Wenski succeeded him as the fourth Bishop of Orlando on November 13, 2004.[4] He was the first Florida-born Bishop of Orlando.[20]

Wenski convoked the first synod for the Diocese of Orlando in 2004.[20] He held listening sessions with a diverse group of Catholics to hear about their concerns and hopes for the future for the diocese.[20] He designated 2008 as the "Year of Evangelization," putting a greater emphasis on deepening the faith of all people.[20] At the time of his appointment to Miami in 2010, he was leading the diocese through the early stages of both a $150 million capital campaign and an extensive renovation of St. James Cathedral.[21]

In October 2007, he was selected to serve on the board of directors of the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation, a non-profit public charity that responds to challenges that confront specialty crop producers and their stakeholders.[7] In September 2008, he gave an invocation at the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota.[22] In March 2009, he joined the conservative Catholic Leadership Institute's national advisory board for their "Good Leaders, Good Shepherds" program.[7] In May of that year, Wenski held a Mass of reparation for the University of Notre Dame's decision to have President Barack Obama deliver its commencement speech and receive an honorary degree, given Obama's pro-choice views.[23] At the Mass, he denounced Obama for his "rather extremist views on abortion" and said that Notre Dame's "actions suggest that, unlike a Carrie Prejean, it lacks the courage of its convictions."[24]

In June 2009, he was elected to a four-year term on the board of trustees of the Catholic University of America.[7] He chaired of the USCCB Committee on International Policy (2004–2008), and currently serves as a consultant to the Committee on Migration and a member of the Secretariat for the church in Latin America,[25] Committee for International Justice and Peace,[26] and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.[7] He is currently the episcopal moderator for Catholic Health Services for the Florida Catholic Conference.[7] [27]

During his tenure, he created six new parishes and two missions.[28] His capital and endowment campaign raised $100 million.[29] He petitioned and was granted that two diocesan churches be raised to the status of minor basilicas.[30] He started the Spanish language radio station, Buena Nueva FM. along with the Spanish language newspaper, El Clarin.[31]

Archbishop of Miami[edit]

As archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski warned Miami diocesan employees against public support for same-sex marriage after a US district court overturned Florida's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, rendering it legal in Florida.[32] Wenski noted that diocesan employees could be "dismissed for actions or statements that violate Church teaching".[33]

On April 20, 2010, Wenski was appointed the fourth Archbishop of Miami by Pope Benedict XVI.[4] Following his appointment, he said he was "humbled by the Holy Father's confidence in me and aware of my own limitations and shortcomings..."[34] He succeeded Archbishop John Favalora. He became the first native of the Archdiocese to become its archbishop.[21]

Wenski was installed at the Cathedral of Saint Mary on June 1, 2010.[2] At the end of June, he received the pallium, a vestment worn by metropolitan bishops, from Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's Basilica.[2]

On February 2, 2012, Wenski celebrated a Pontifical High Mass, a solemn form of Tridentine Mass, the first such celebration in the state of Florida in more than 40 years.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pope Names Orlando Bishop As Archbishop Of Miami, Chicago Auxiliary Bishop As Bishop Of Springfield In Illinois". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. April 20, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Rodriguez-Soto, Ana (April 20, 2010). "'Native son' comes home". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami.
  3. ^ Sedensky, Matt (April 20, 2010). "Miami archbishop resigns, Orlando bishop replaces". Associated Press.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Archbishop Thomas Gerard Wenski". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Viglucci, Andres (February 26, 1995). "God's Man in Little Haiti". The Miami Herald.
  6. ^ a b c St. Pierre, Mary (April 15, 2004). "Coadjutor joins in traditional Polish blessing" (PDF). The Florida Catholic.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Bishop Wenski Biography". Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007.
  8. ^ a b "Call Of Two Shepherds". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. September 3, 1997.
  9. ^ St. John Vianney Minor Seminary
  10. ^ Quaroni, Marlene (October 8, 2009). "Seminarian's mural honors Mary". Florida Catholic. Archived from the original on December 25, 2009.
  11. ^ St. Vincent de Paul Major Seminary
  12. ^ School of Sociology
  13. ^ Corpus Christi Church
  14. ^ Notre-Dame d'Haiti Church
  15. ^ BBC article, Haiti makes voodoo official.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 6, 2006. Retrieved February 10, 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Bishop Wenski Coat of Arms". Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando. Archived from the original on January 3, 2008.
  18. ^ Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
  19. ^ Committee on Migration
  20. ^ a b c d "Diocese of Orlando History". Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando.
  21. ^ a b Palmo, Rocco (April 20, 2010). "Holy Goalie: A Two-Pole Tuesday". Whispers in the Loggia.
  22. ^ "REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION 2008 PRAYER – SEPTEMBER 2008". Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008.
  23. ^ "Bishop Wenski leads Mass of Reparation for Obama invite and Catholic 'complacency'". Catholic News Agency. May 5, 2009.
  24. ^ "Mass of Reparation – May 2009". Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando. Archived from the original on January 26, 2010.
  25. ^ Secretariat for the Church in Latin America Archived April 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Committee for International Justice and Peace
  27. ^ Florida Catholic Conference
  28. ^ Powers, Jennifer (May 21 – June 3, 2010). "Extended pastoral reach through new parishes, missions". Orlando, Florida: Florida Catholic. pp. A2.
  29. ^ Peterson, Teresa Lantigua (May 21 – June 3, 2010). "Alive in Christ Campaign reaches $100 million". Orlando, Florida: Florida Catholic. pp. A3.
  30. ^ Dobson, Laura (May 21 – June 3, 2010). "Churches elevated to status of minor basilicas under leadership of Archbishop Wenski". Orlando, Florida: Florida Catholic. pp. A14.
  31. ^ Goodman, Tanya (May 21 – June 3, 2010). "Helping Spanish-speaking Catholics feel at home". Orlando, Florida: Florida Catholic. pp. A16.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 9, 2015. Retrieved February 26, 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Statement from Archbishop- Designate Thomas Wenski". Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami. April 20, 2010.
  35. ^

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Favalora
Archbishop of Miami
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Norbert Dorsey
Bishop of Orlando
Succeeded by
John Gerard Noonan
Preceded by
Auxiliary Bishop of Miami
Succeeded by