Dear Companions on the Journey,
I never thought I would see it: the canonization of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, martyred Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador.
Archbishop Romero, whose story is eloquently told in the eponymous Paulist Productions film, began his preparation for the priesthood as a brilliant but very obedient student. It was obvious to many that he was on his way to leadership in the Catholic Church. He faithfully served at a number of parishes, so Church officials perceived him as the “safe” candidate when the opening for Archbishop of San Salvador occurred. They thought he would keep the local Church together while not challenging the repressive government.
But living with the poor and seeing the almost systematic persecution of Church leaders, Romero started to change, started to grow, started to burn. His own spirituality began to reflect that part of the Latin American Church’s turn to a “preferential option for the poor.” As the new Archbishop, Romero was initially mildly critical of the government repression. But he became emboldened as he saw workers’ leaders and priests jailed and some killed for standing up for the rights of the poor. Shortly before his death, Romero cried out to the soldiers, “For the sake of God, do not shoot at your brothers and sisters.” (this drawn from a number of sources). On 24 March 1980, government soldiers gunned him down while he was celebrating the Eucharist at the Divine Providence Hospital in San Salvador.
In the early 1980s here at the Paulist Center Community, many Community members, shocked and stirred to action by Romero’s death (followed by the deaths of four American church women), joined in the struggle for the Salvadoran people’s welfare. This eventually developed into a now-decades long relationship with our sister community in Hacienda Vieja. Join in the celebration and watch the YouTube video:
What do you think?
And let us pray for/with one another.
The Paulist Center