MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Archdiocese of Miami has announced the death of Msgr. Emilio Vallina Saturday at age 87.
Msgr. Vallina was the founder of St. John Bosco Parish in Little Havana, and pastor of the same church for 43 years.
He dedicated his ministry to Miami Cubans and Cuban exiles.
Msgr. Vallina was born April 10, 1926 in Guanajay, a town in the province of Pinar del Rio, Cuba. He was ordained priest for the Archdiocese of Havana by Cardinal Arteaga on April 20, 1952 and served there in two parishes in the countryside.
Father Vallina arrived in Miami July 8, 1961 after he was expelled from Cuba during Fidel Castro’s Revolution.
He began celebrating Mass in Gesu Church downtown, then spent 21 months at Little Flower in Coral Gables.
In May 1963, he was told he would take over a new parish that had been founded in October 1962 in an area where Cuban exiles had begun settling that later became Little Havana.
He began celebrating Mass at the Tivoli on West Flagler and Seventh Avenue until St. John Bosco Parish was formally founded where an old car dealership used to be. St. John Bosco has since welcomed several waves of Cuban exiles as well as refugees from different nations in Central and South America.
Msgr. Vallina was known for opening a free clinic for poor undocumented immigrants and an after-school program for children of working parents.
A viewing will take place October 20 at 6 p.m. at St. John Bosco, 1349 West Flagler Street in Miami with a wake service set for 8:30 p.m.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski on Monday, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m. at the church with internment following at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetary, 11411 NW25th St., Doral 33172.