Popes, Saints, Archbishops, and Nuns

Who was America’s first black Catholic archbishop?

In 1988 Eugene Antonio Marino (1934–2000) became the first black Catholic archbishop in the United States and only the second black ordinary bishop (a bishop who heads a diocese). Marino, a native of Biloxi, Mississippi, was educated at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, D.C. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 9, 1962. Marino taught at Epiphany College from 1962 to 1968. From 1968 to 1971 he was spiritual director of St. Joseph’s Seminary. He was elected vicar of the Josephites in 1971 and assisted the society further by serving as director of spiritual and educational formation. In September 1974 he became auxiliary bishop in Washington, D.C. He became archbishop of the Diocese of Atlanta from 1988 to May 1990 and was the ranking black member of the Catholic hierarchy when he stepped aside because of exhaustion and stress. In August 1990, however, his inappropriate relationship with a single mother became public knowledge. He went into seclusion after he resigned and received spiritual direction as well as psychiatric and medical care for stress. Before his death, he spent his last five years as spiritual director in an outpatient program for clergy at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Harrison, New York, while he lived at a Salesian Fathers home in New Rochelle.


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