MIAMI (CBS4)- Archbishop Thomas Wenski plans to return to South Florida from Cuba on Saturday.
On Friday, Archbishop Wenski plans to join Cardinal Jaime Ortega, along with other Cuban bishops for the feast of the Holy family of Nazareth.
The ceremonies taking place in Cuba come ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit the last week of March.
The visit will be especially meaningful to the Catholic community in Cuba because they are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, which is Cuba’s patron saint.
This will be Cuba’s second papal visit. Pope John Paul II visited the island nation in 1998 and was well received by the thousands who attended a mass he celebrated.
“It will be a watershed moment for the Cuban church as was the visit of John Paul II in 1998,” said Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski. “The pope goes on a mission of hope and as he has said many times ‘A world without God is a world without hope, without a future’ and I think he comes to announce a future of hope for the island of Cuba.”
Cuba’s church has played an increasingly important role in recent years. It helped negotiate the release of political prisoners in 2009 and 2010.
During his trip, the 84-year old pontiff is expected to meet with members of President Raul Castro’s government and possibly discuss economic reforms.
The trip to Cuba may also include a stop in Mexico.
Archbishop Wenski plans to talk about his trip to Cuba when he returns to Fort Lauderdale Saturday afternoon.