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Obama pops into Miami shrine,surprises priest

The priest prayed an Our Father. The president lit a candle. And while gazing together at a revered image of Cuba’s patroness, the priest reminded the president of the suffering of Cuba’s people.“Only in the United States that’s possible,” said the Rev. Juan Rumin Dominguez, rector of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami, as he recalled the whirlwind, unexpected visit of President Barack Obama early Thursday afternoon.

The president was on his way to the airport after attending a Democratic fundraiser the night before and spending the morning at the National Hurricane Center.

“For me it was an honor and a sign that we live in a free country,” said Dominguez, himself a Cuban exile. “To be able to tell President Obama to his face about the feelings of thousands of people who visit the shrine every day.”

The shrine is a symbol of faith and hope for Cuba’s exiles since before their donated pennies paid for its construction in the early 1970s; now it is a first stop also for thousands of immigrants from Central and South America who continue arriving in South Florida.

Obama is the first sitting US president to visit. And Dominguez had barely an hour to prepare. He was in a meeting with his staff when Secret Service agents appeared at the office, telling him the president “was nearby and he wanted to get to know this place.”









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