Miami-Dade County

Bishop Leo Frade of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida bids farewell

The Right Rev. Bishop Leo Frade, left, addresses hundreds at Trinity Cathedral in downtown Miami during his Farewell Mass on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. Frade was head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. In October, he turned 72 — the mandatory retirement age in the Episcopal Church. Long esteemed for his social activism, Frade has endeared himself to many, including those in the Hispanic, Haitian and LGBT communities, for his vocal support. The Right Rev. Peter Eaton, center, who was Bishop Coadjutor of Southeast Florida, is Frade's successor.
The Right Rev. Bishop Leo Frade, left, addresses hundreds at Trinity Cathedral in downtown Miami during his Farewell Mass on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016. Frade was head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. In October, he turned 72 — the mandatory retirement age in the Episcopal Church. Long esteemed for his social activism, Frade has endeared himself to many, including those in the Hispanic, Haitian and LGBT communities, for his vocal support. The Right Rev. Peter Eaton, center, who was Bishop Coadjutor of Southeast Florida, is Frade's successor. mhalper@miamiherald.com

Bishop Leo Frade is a true South Floridian.

He says he could easily live off Cuban sandwiches and cafecito, and he isn’t a fan of the traffic on I-95.

“I’m a Miami Boy,” Frade said with a laugh.

Frade, 72, has spent about 15 years serving as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. On Saturday, he officially resigned his post, ending his roughly 38-year career. The Right Rev. Peter Eaton will succeed Frade in the post.

“I’m excited,” said Frade before a Saturday morning service at Trinity Cathedral in downtown Miami. “The church is in good hands; we have a good bishop who will help the ministry here. It’s time for a new chapter.”

Frade’s tenure was celebrated by a multi-language service with music and people of various denominations. Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado was also on hand, proclaiming the day for Frade.

Rev. Luis Leon delivered the sermon in a roast-type manner. “I’ve learned a great deal from Leo — good and bad,” he said with a laugh.

He named traits such as compassion and courage to be among Frade’s strongest qualities, and Leon detailed some of Frade’s accomplishments, which included his help of Cubans during the Mariel boatlift. He also championed for LGBT rights.

Frade resigned his position because of the Episcopal Church’s mandatory retirement age of 72. In May Eaton, former dean of Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver, was consecrated.

“I am among those who is both sad and joyful today,” Eaton said. “It’s the end of what has been one of the great times of leadership in our church.”

At a reception following the service, Eaton said he was caught up in emotion, and that he was counting on prayers and support from those around him as he embarks on this new journey.

“It’s a huge honor to be given the gift of being a bishop and it’s a huge honor to be part of a community like this,” Eaton said. “On one level, it’s exciting and on one level it’s daunting because there are huge shoes to fill.”

As for Frade, he does not intend to stop working.

“The work doesn’t stop,” he said. “It only stops when you’re called yonder for a personal interview up there [heaven].”

He plans to split his time between his native Cuba, where he says he will help grow the dioceses, and Honduras, where his wife, Diana, founded Our Little Roses — a home and bilingual school for abandoned, abused and orphaned girls.

“It’s been a really successful ministry,” he said. “The dreams that you dream can come true, if you keep your eyes on the target and the prize and don’t let anyone minimize you because you’re a woman. That’s what Diana has been teaching them.”

And his wife, who takes monthly trips to Honduras, couldn’t be happier to have her husband’s help.

“We have gotten to the finish line, and that is a really wonderful feeling,” she said. “For me it’s going to be a breather because I don’t have to wake up and say, ‘What country am I in, what language am I speaking today?’ 

During Saturday’s service, she was beaming.

“Ask me how I’m feeling,” she said to people as they passed by. “I cannot tell you how good I feel, I don’t think I could feel any better.”

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