SOUTHEAST FLORIDA: 'Padre Alberto' becomes Episcopal Church priest[Episcopal News Service] On May 29, a year and a day after he left the Roman Catholic priesthood to join the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Alberto Cutié became a priest in the Episcopal Church.
In a joyous bilingual service at Church of the Resurrection, Biscayne Park, Florida, where Cutié has served as lay pastor since Pentecost 2009, Diocese of Southeast Florida Bishop Leo Frade received him as an Episcopal priest and instituted him as priest-in-charge of the congregation.
A congregation of several hundred, including diocesan and ecumenical clergy, packed the small church. In addition to Frade, Bishop Julio Holguin of the Dominican Republic and retired Diocese of Venezuela Bishop Onell Soto, both friends and mentors to Cutié, assisted at the altar.
As a Roman Catholic priest, Cutié was well known nationally and throughout Latin America when photos of him and Ruhama Buni Canellis, whom he married last June, kissing on a beach appeared in early May 2009 in a Spanish-language publication. Shortly after the photographs were published, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami removed Cutié from St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church, Miami Beach, where he was priest-in-charge.
Cutié had also served as general director and president of Pax Catholic Communications, a multimedia ministry of the archdiocese, appeared frequently on radio and television and wrote an advice column on relationship issues for El Nuevo Herald.
When Cutié and Canellis were received into the Episcopal Church a year ago, Frade said that Cutié's decision to begin the path to priesthood in the Episcopal Church came after a two-year journey of discernment, and that the diocese would begin to use his gifts and skills as he followed the year-long process of preparation to be received as an Episcopal priest.
In his homily at the May 29 service, Frade reminded the congregation "what this ceremony is not about." He noted that Cutié was already ordained, and had completed the necessary training and had made, a few minutes earlier, the necessary promise "to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church."
"I also want to make sure you know that we don't come here with a triumphant attitude because Father Alberto has become an Episcopalian," Frade cautioned. "I have always said that the road from Rome to Canterbury or from Canterbury to Rome is quite busy most of the time, like I-95 at rush hour."
He noted that Cutié continued to follow a call to the priesthood that he received as a teenager, after realizing "little by little ... that your beliefs were more like an Anglican than a Roman."
"Welcome, Albert, to this branch of Christ's Church. You may not be a Roman now, but you are still a priest in God's catholic church."
Then, after more than a year away from the altar, Cutié celebrated his first Eucharist as an Episcopal priest. Later he admitted he was "more nervous than at my very first Mass."
After the service the Ven. Tom Bruttell, diocesan archdeacon for transitional ministries, recalled that Cutié had asked Frade and the archdeacons a year ago to give him a tough assignment. Resurrection was just that -- a church that, as the bishop said then, had "fallen on hard times." There was no priest, Sunday attendance had dwindled to 20 or 30, finances were grim, and buildings and grounds were in disrepair.
During the past year, with Cutié as lay pastor, assisted and mentored by a retired priest, the Rev. Howard Stowe, there are now two Sunday services, English and Spanish, with combined attendance of about 250 each week. Mirroring the north Miami-Dade community, the congregation is a mix of white Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, West Indian and Haitian. There's a mid-week Bible study, led by Cutié, and growing ministries for children and youth.