Profile: Eugene Antonio Marino(1934-2000)

Eugene Antonio Marino SSJ was an American Catholic prelate who served as Archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia from 1988 until 1990, becoming the first African American archbishop in United States of America. He was of both African American and Puerto Rican descent.

He was also the first African American to become auxiliary bishop for Washington, D.C. and the first to be secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. As archbishop of Atlanta, he tackled the conduct of other priests until his resignation after his affair with a lay-minister became public knowledge.

Marino was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, the sixth of a total of eight children to baker and Puerto Rican Jesús María Marino and Lottie Irene Bradford Marino, a maid. From 1952 to 1956 he attended Epiphany Apostolic College in Newburgh, New York and went on to St. Joseph’s Seminary in 1962 where he was ordained as a priest in the same year. He then went on to continue his education at Loyola University and Fordham University in The Bronx, New York City, graduating in 1967.

During his education at university, Marino also taught at Epiphany Apostolic College and following his graduation he was the spiritual director at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, D.C. from 1968 until 1971, when he became vicar general of the Josephites. From September 12, 1974 until 1988 he was an auxiliary bishop for the Washington archdiocese, the fourth African American ever to hold this position, as well as becoming the secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1985, the first African American to hold that position.


On the early morning of November 12, 2000, while ministering at Salesian High School in New Rochelle, NY acting as a counselor and confidant for the personal problems of fellow priests and nuns, Marino died aged 66 at the St. Ignatius Retreat House, Manhasset, NY. He was discovered in bed by the housekeeper and it was established that he had died of a heart attack. He was buried in Biloxi, Mississippi. Of his eight siblings, one brother and four sisters survived him.


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