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THE MIAMI HERALD
'An Old-Fashioned Modern Priest'
The Rev. Alberto R. Cutié wears many hats for the Archdiocese of Miami. Not only is he the director of Pax Communications and a radio and TV talk show host, he attracts overflowing crowds to St. Patrick's Church on Miami Beach.
BY RAQUEL DIVINA AMPARO
March 11, 2004
U/Miami News Service
When he was 12 years old, Alberto R. Cutié had a calling to be a disc jockey. The Glades Middle School student bought a turntable set and, along with a couple of friends, went all over South Florida, spinning records at parties, banquets and fashion shows.
''We were really popular,'' Cutié recalled during a telephone interview. ``There wasn't a weekend that we weren't DJ-ing at bar mitzvahs and weddings.''
But before the DJ was out of high school, he responded to a different calling -- the priesthood. The choice took most of his friends and family by surprise, he said.
''I paid attention to God,'' Cutié said of his decision to become a priest. ``It was a matter of listening to the will of God, and responding to it.''
Though Cutié had his DJ business, he had been involved in his parish church, St. Timothy's in Kendall, where he led spiritual retreats and worked with a youth group.
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Cutié moved with his parents, Alberto and Yolanda Cutié, and his sisters to Miami when he was 7.
''I grew up among the people here,'' Cutié said. 'That makes me somebody who understands the people and the culture very well. Sometimes, I'm driving through downtown Miami or Miami Beach, and I'm like, `I DJed there when I was 12 or 17,' '' said Cutié, now 34 and a parish priest at St. Patrick's Church on Miami Beach.
Cutié, who attended Snapper Creek Elementary and Southwest Senior High, says the people he knew then are now friends who ask him to perform their marriages and baptize their babies.
''That's the benefit of being a priest right where you grew up,'' he said.
Cutié is still popular in his post-DJ career, and he still knows how to work the audience at St. Patrick's, 3716 Garden Ave., Miami Beach. Parishioners say he attracts overflow crowds for a religious service described as ``part show, part community event, part happening.''
On a recent Sunday, Cutié's morning sermon on apathy opened with a joke about a homeless man who asked a passerby for money to buy food.
The potential benefactor listed a number of reasons as to why he thought the beggar would misspend the money -- drinking, gambling, golfing -- all of which the beggar renounced. Finally, the passerby invited the homeless man to his home for a hot meal to be prepared by his wife. The beggar wondered if the man's wife might be offended, `` `I smell, I don't look presentable.'
Cutié continued: 'So the man says, `That's OK. I need my wife to see what a man looks like when he gives up drinking, gambling and golfing.' ''
Being able to speak to the congregation using modern-day parables makes Cutié popular, his parishioners say.
''I personally believe that he's the kind of priest our Catholic Church needs today -- close to the people, but at the same time portraying what the church wants and teaches,'' said Marite Alfonso, 44, a longtime friend.
''He attracts people from inside the church and from outside the church. He's the most old-fashioned modern priest -- old-fashioned as far as the church and its teachings and traditions, but very modern in how he implements them,'' said Alfonso, director of programming at Radio Paz, the Archdiocese of Miami's 24-hour AM station.
In addition to his work at St. Patrick's, a congregation of about 2,600 families, Cutié is the director general of Pax Catholic Communications, 1779 NW 28th St., where he oversees all of the station's departments, community relations and programming at Radio Paz, WACC-AM (830) and Radio Peace, WAXY-AM (790). He also does a 30-minute daily morning news commentary and a two-hour afternoon talk show.
His title at St. Patrick's is resident, meaning he is a priest who has a full-time job outside of the parish. The church is pastored by the Rev. Monsignor John Vaughn, who is also assisted by the Rev. Manuel Soler.
At Radio Paz, the mostly Spanish-language programming offers a radio Mass, which Cutié usually conducts, and includes Vatican programming. The archdiocese also leases air time on WAXY, which carries religious programming in English. Cutié also tapes a weekly one-hour show on EWTN, the Catholic TV Network, out of Alabama.
Ordained in 1995, Cutié said he did not know that his priestly duties would involve a microphone. While at St. Clement Church in Fort Lauderdale, he got a call from Telemundo Network to host a religious talk show. He said Archbishop John Clement Favalora talked him into accepting the position.
He laughed and said, ' `If Jesus were here today he probably would have conducted a talk show.' I ended up being this very public person in no time -- everybody and their grandmother found out who I was overnight.''
On issues facing the priesthood, Cutié said the archdiocese is lucky to have priests at each of the 110 parishes, which is not the case throughout the country.
''I think the greatest for us as priests is that we have felt like wounded soldiers who have gone through battles,'' he said, referring to the sex scandals in the priesthood. ``The great majority of us have not been affected, but the image of the priesthood has. The Roman collar does not keep us immune from human frailty. It doesn't make us more perfect. We are part of the human condition.''