Andrew and Guantanamo
On Aug. 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew, the first Category 4 storm to hit a highly populated urban area in the United States, struck South Florida, wreaking vast damage on the southernmost part of Dade County and an estimated $130 million in damages to Catholic facilities. Archdiocesan personnel and volunteers from unaffected parishes flocked to repair the damage and aid those left homeless. The task of rebuilding continued for months. To symbolize unity with those affected by the storm, the archdiocese marked its 34th anniversary in October with an outdoor Mass in South Dade. The altar was built out of hurricane debris.
On April 10, 1993, at the Vatican-mandated age of 75, Archbishop McCarthy submitted his resignation to Pope John Paul II, but continued to run the archdiocese until the Holy See appointed a successor.
On Oct. 7, 1993, its 35th anniversary, the archdiocese consisted of 107 parishes and three missions in three counties, with a registered Catholic population of more than 681,000 served by 198 diocesan priests, 127 religious order priests, 406 women religious and 56 men religious, and 103 permanent deacons.
In the summer of 1994, thousands of Cuban rafters again took to the seas, fleeing Communism and dire economic conditions in their homeland. After being rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, most were placed in temporary detainment camps in Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba, where they languished while the Clinton Administration decided whether or not to admit them to the United States. The archdiocese asked Spanish-speaking priests to volunteer to work at the camps for rotating periods of time, and Archbishop McCarthy and Auxiliary Bishop Roman traveled to Guantanamo to visit and bring hope to the refugees.