During the Sunday morning English and Spanish Masses on June 1, St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral Parish in Camden remembered the recently-beatified Blessed Oscar Romero.
Champion of the poor and model for all who work to help the marginalized, in the Gospel tradition, Romero earlier this year was recognized by Pope Francis as a martyr for the faith. In 1980, the archbishop of San Salvador was assassinated for his beliefs while saying Mass. In his beatification on May 23, he moved one step closer to being declared a saint.
At the East Camden parish, two individuals who work in a ministry inspired by the archbishop spoke about his influence.
Speaking during the 9 a.m. English liturgy, Patrick Cashio, executive director of the parish’s Romero Center Ministries, called Romero a man whom San Salvador’s political leaders counted on as “one to keep to himself” after he was named archbishop in 1977.
“He was supposed to be quiet as they built their own political and economic power” at the expense of the poor and suffering, he said.
However, after Father Rutilio Grande, a friend to the poor, was killed by the Salvadoran military, Romero felt he had to speak up, Cashio added, for his impoverished brothers and sisters.
“Through three years of deep pastoral ministry with the poor and exploited people of El Salvador, he preached the Gospel. He sought to reconcile the deep division in his country. He used his voice to speak of behalf of those in his country who could not be heard,” he said.
In his beatification, “the church now declares the truth of what the people of El Salvador have been telling us all along: they saw the Gospel in their midst through Romero.”
In his role as executive director, Cashio oversees a social justice education and immersion retreat center ministry that has almost 1,200 high school and college visitors enter its doors every year. Teresa Reyes, Urban Challenge Associate at Romero Center Ministries, also shared her thoughts on Oscar Romero, during the 11 a.m. Spanish Mass.
“Romero realized that his calling was to be the father of the poor and marginalized, and it was his duty to defend them,” she said in Spanish.
At the same time, he had love for not only the poor, but their oppressors, and “sought nothing more than peace and reconciliation between them,” to unite for peace, equality and justice.
Just as Romero became close to the poor and heard their stories, “it is important (for us) to create moments of encounter, moments that can break barriers and to create bonds of brotherhood, understanding and solidarity.”
During the Masses, an image of Blessed Oscar Romero, created by Brother Michael O’Neill McGrath, OSFS, was unveiled. Prayer cards were also given out to the faithful, with an original prayer composed by the Romero Center Ministries staff.
Romero Center Ministries Prayer
God of love and service,
to love without hesitation or condition.
to serve those in greatest need with all willingness.
into deeper relationships that reflect Your grace.
to never accept a society of injustice.
that we may be more because You are with us.