Oscar Romero’s Inspiring Message
April 15, 2015
While thousands of people were celebrating in the life of Monsignor Oscar Romero in El Salvador during the week of March 24th, there were also thousands of people celebrating all over the world. Libby Hyde, a 2014 SHARE delegate from Kansas City, was also commemorating Monsignor Romero with her community. She shares with us here now about Romero and words from Father Abel who visited Kansas City during the Romero celebrations.
Kansas City Romero Committee with Father Abel. Together to commemorate Romero in March 2015.
“I am bound, as a pastor, by divine command to give my life for those whom I love, and that is all Salvadorans, even those who are going to kill me.”
These words of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salvador, appeared in a newspaper article just two weeks before he was shot and killed while celebrating the Eucharist during mass in 1980.
Romero was an active supporter of those who were totally marginalized and disenfranchised in Salvadoran society. He consistently spoke out against the Salvadoran government during the civil war because the basic human rights of Salvadorans everywhere were violated with impunity. In many cases during the war, many civilians El Salvador were “disappeared”, tortured or murdered. Parents feared for their children’s lives and for their own. Salvadoran life was consumed with the uncertainty of strife in times of war.
As an influential leader of the Church in El Salvador and inspired by his good friend Rutilio Grande, Romero encouraged the people of El Salvador to stand up for their own basic rights. Romero gained a steady following of Salvadorans who were influenced by his message as he hosted a weekly radio show on the archdiocesan channel and preached regularly about the situation in El Salvador. He frequently used his position of power within the Church to provide a voice for those who could not express their own injustices. He soon came to be known as the “voice of the voiceless.”
As he grew more outspoken in his defense of the poor, his message threatened the military government’s control over the country. He was assassinated while saying mass at Divina Providencia in San Salvador.
Romero’s outstanding courage in the face of death and his unyielding support for the poor has since earned him a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Pope Francis also formally declared in February that Romero was a martyr for the Catholic faith, and his beatification is expected in May, just 35 years after his martyrdom. Though this is the Vatican’s first movement toward sainthood for Romero, he has long been considered a saint by many people across the world.
This news of Romero’s impending beatification also resonates particularly with Good Shepherd, who has had a relationship with El Buen Pastor since 1987. This relationship has inspired many travelers to El Salvador to continue to carry Romero’s message. It has also inspired our community to dedicate our chapel as the Romero Chapel.
Padre Abel Castañeda, the pastor of San Julian Obispo Parish in Sonsonate in El Salvador who was baptized by Oscar Romero, visited Kansas City this month. He described Romero with 4 common characteristics: a good Christian, a good priest, a good bishop, and a good shepherd.
“Before Romero’s death, the reality of El Salvador was marked by many social injustices,” Padre Abel said.” Romero saw all of this reality. He was a prophet. He talked in the name of God to the people with the word of the gospel, illuminating the people with the hope that God can change things for them. Thirty-five years later, we have made many changes, and slowly, we have been able to see them. We hope for a grand miracle that the beatification and canonization can continue these changes.”
Padre Abel said that 35 years after Romero’s death, Romero continues to teach the meaning of resurrection to those who want to know him and those who do know him.
“My stay here in Kansas City confirms this,” Padre Abel said. “I give thanks for this. There are many people who aren’t Salvadoran who know and love Romero just like Salvadorans do.”
Inspired by Monsignor Ricardo Urioste of the Archdiocese in San Salvador who was a colleague and close friend of Romero, Padre Abel also reasoned with the effects of Romero’s courage to speak truth to power.
“Romero is a man much hated and much loved,” Padre Abel reasoned. “Those who hate him are those who do not love justice. Those who love Romero love the poor… those are the people that love truth and justice.”
Did your community do something to celebrate Romero? Send pictures and reflections to email@example.com!