Media Contact: Lucy Leety-Wheeler
“I Will Arise in my People”
– Maryknoll Celebrated Beatification of Archbishop Romero with Special Events –
OSSINING, NY (May 26, 2015) Maryknoll (Lay Missioners, Sisters and Fathers and Brothers) jointly held a two-day event to celebrate the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the same weekend that the Archbishop was beatified in El Salvador.
Archbishop Romero’s commitment to social justice, which cost him his life, was of great importance to all Maryknoll missioners, both during his lifetime, as well as today. Through our combined efforts in overseas Catholic mission, Maryknoll as a whole continues to work for social justice and, like Romero, to be a voice for the poor in Latin America, as well as other nations around the world. Nine Lay Missioners currently work in mission accompanying the poor in El Salvador today.
Archbishop Romero holds a special place in the hearts of Maryknollers, particularly those who came to know him and draw strength from him during their service in Central America, as well as because of two Maryknoll Sisters, Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, and Lay Missioner Jean Donovan, who prepared for mission with Maryknoll, all of whom were killed because of their work with the poor in El Salvador, just months after Romero’s murder.
The two-day celebration at Maryknoll included:
- The film, Monseñor: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero, was shown Friday evening, May 22, 2015, to a crowd of approximately 90 people, followed by discussion facilitated by Larry Rich, a returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner who served from 1980-2002 in Peru and the U.S.
- A bilingual Eucharistic Liturgy celebrating the life of Archbishop Romero was held Saturday, May 23, 2015, at Queen of the Apostles Chapel at the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Mission Center. There were approximately 300 people present at the lively celebration that closed with shouts of “Oscar Romero, Presente!”
At the homily of the Mass, Romero’s last radio sermon, given the day before his assassination, was read both in English and again in Spanish. In this sermon he called on the soldiers of the army to refuse to obey orders given them to carry out the torture, rape and killing of their own countrymen, but to obey the law of God – “Thou shalt not kill”! He said, “No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God.” The next morning he was shot. His last words were, “May God have mercy on the assassin.”
The Archbishop’s courage and audacity in opting for the poor led him to his death, which he fully recognized and accepted as following in Christ’s footsteps. When friends tried to persuade him to have protection his response was, “Why should the shepherd have protection when his sheep are still prey to wolves?” He was accused of being a Marxist and siding with terrorists. Threats became more intense, but this deeply spiritual man would not be silenced. He spoke against violence committed by both sides – right and left – and pleaded for “dialogue, social justice for the poor, human rights for all Salvadorans and the practice of compassion.” He said, “I don’t want to be ‘anti’ against anybody. I simply want to be the builder of a great affirmation: the affirmation of a God who loves us and wants to save us.”
About Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Maryknoll Lay Missioners (MKLM) offers single people, married couples and families in the U.S. Catholic Church the opportunity to respond to the call of mission. Inspired by the mission of Jesus, we live and work with poor communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas, responding to basic needs and helping to create a more just and compassionate world.
Maryknoll Lay Missioners was initiated in 1975 as a result of the vision and efforts of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and the Maryknoll Sisters. In our nearly 40-year history as Maryknoll Lay Missioners, more than 700 U.S. lay Catholics have crossed borders to serve in some of the world’s poorest communities. Today, the face of mission is rapidly being transformed by the ministries, lives and compassion of lay men and women.
# # #