In 1987, John Paul II made Miami the first stop of his six-city U.S. tour.
The papal visit took more than a year of planning involving hundreds of people, priests, government officials and Vatican dignitaries. A special altar and a city-for-a-day were erected on the grounds of Miami-Dade County's Tamiami Fairgrounds, to accommodate the
quarter of a million people who turned out for the outdoor Mass, the only public event of the Pontiff's 23-hour South Florida stay.
Then, in mid-ceremony, continuing a tradition that had dogged Archbishop McCarthy since his arrival in Miami, the heavens opened up and the rains poured down, accompanied by lightning strikes. Concern for people's safety forced the Mass to be halted, a first in papal-trip history.
Archbishop McCarthy submitted his resignation to the Holy See in 1993, at the Vatican-mandated age of 75.
His tenure in the Archdiocese of Miami saw its share of hope and upheaval, triumph and tragedy, par for the course in ever-bustling South Florida. The chief characteristic of his ministry here, however, cannot be denied: his visionary nature compelled South Florida's Catholics to look up from the turmoil once in a while and focus on heaven.
After an active retirement, Archbishop McCarthy died peacefully in his sleep
June 7, 2005.
His replacement, Archbishop John C. Favalora, former bishop of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Alexandria, La., was named
Nov. 20, 1994 and installed Dec. 20, 1994.