Dear Editor: Despite a torrential downpour, people came out in great numbers to pay their respect to Msgr. Ronald T. Marino, Rector of the Basilica of Regina Pacis, when he celebrated 45 years of his ordination to the priesthood.
As a priest, he has dedicated more than 35 of the 45 years to immigrant ministries here in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Msgr. Marino has been at the forefront of advocating for and offering the Church’s welcome to people from around the globe.
I first met then-Father Marino back in the mid 1980s as he coordinated the diocesan legalization program. When he established the Resources Program for immigrants, he asked me to join his team and little did I know I would end up as a collaborator in this special ministry of welcoming the stranger in our midst. He has been a friend, mentor and boss often challenging me and others to venture beyond of our comfort, asking that we live our faith in a manner where we can recognize the Face of Christ in the other.
I recall in 1995 when he asked me to become the head of the pastoral services department of the Catholic Migration Office, a position where I would have the responsibility to work very closely with the ethnic apostolates of the Diocese.
My initial response was, “I do not feel that I know enough to accept,” and in typical fashion his response was that I should not be afraid and assured me that the immigrants would teach me all I need to know.”
As episcopal vicar for Ethnic and Migrant Apostolates of the Diocese, a post he recently gave up, Msgr. Marino was recognized as a champion of immigrant rights and their causes. He is held in high esteem throughout the immigrant communities here and elsewhere.
As Rector of the Basilica of Regina Pacis, he has worked tirelessly in bringing the structure of the facilities up to standard, a daunting task. As an example, the recent restoration of the lower basilica to St. Joseph Chapel and Columbarium, was a pastoral response to accommodate the needs of our people. The Columbarium is the only one of its kind in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Today, the parish is pastorally vibrant and quite alive with weekly Masses being offered in English, Spanish, Italian and Chinese. Msgr. Marino’s anniversary celebration was just another reflection of the rich cultural diversity that was so proudly on display and a testament to the collaboration and unity of the parish family.
DAVE FRANCIS ALI