Celebrating the Life and Teachings of Oscar Arnulfo Romero

On March 24th, the community celebrated the life and teachings of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 to 1980; a term cut abruptly short when he was assassinated while celebrating Mass in a San Salvador hospital chapel. There is little to speculate on the reason for his assassination as he was an outspoken defender of the poor and of human rights at a time when there existed much repression and oppression against both in El Salvador. The day before his assassination he had given a sermon, addressing the military and security forces; ordering them in the name of God to end the violence against their fellow countrymen.

Oscar Romero was born in 1917 in Ciudad Barrios in San Miguel, at a time when 13 rich families owned 40% of El Salvador’s land and wealth. He attended a public school until the third grade and was privately tutored before the age of thirteen when he entered into the seminary. He finished his studies at the Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained in 1942. He returned to El Salvador when he was 26 years old and spent the next 20 years as a bishop in San Miguel.

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In February of 1977, Romero was appointed to Archbishop of San Salvador and ironically was met with disappointment from those priests who thought his conservative reputation would hinder the progressive efforts of liberation theology in the country. A month later, Rutillo Grande, a progressive Jesuit priest and mentor of Romero’s was assassinated by government forces because of his work to empower the poor and condemn the government. From that moment on, Romero became a voice for the oppressed and therefore an enemy to both the Salvadoran and US right-wing governments and military. The day before he was assassinated, he had given a sermon that pleaded with those orchestrating and those carrying out the many human rights abuses  –occurring throughout the country– to end the repression.

The Pastoral Team put on a very moving and uplifting ceremony for the 34th anniversary of his assassination; not only honoring Romero’s life but the legacies of many other heroes and martyrs who have given so much for the revolution of the country. They started with a humble yet powerful march to the temple; holding signs and photos of Romero, Rutilio Grande, Segundo Montes and others whilst singing along the way. For the following three hours they then had songs, liturgies, special guests, live revolutionary music and even a traditional dance performance. The event ended with most of the community taking communion and packing the back of a pick up truck to get to the late night vigil held in community of Barreal.

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