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28 November

Saint James of the Marches

Marist Calendar - November

‘Beatification of Oscar Romero fills us with joy,’ say his Marist friends



Friends of martyr greatly pleased with his beatification

22/05/2015: General House

Friends of an archbishop who was shot dead while celebrating Mass stressed that his beatification ‘fills those who knew him with joy.’

Oscar Romero will be beatified on May 23, exactly 35 years after his assassination in the capital of El Salvador.

His beatification will take place in San Salvador in an outdoor Mass in Plaza Divino Salvador del Mundo.
Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing him as martyr on Feb. 3. 

“His beatification fills us Marists who were closest to him with joy and hope,” said Marist brother José Antonio López. “We give thanks to the Lord for this (because) he is the first saint of El Salvador.” 

“I hope his beatification is not politicized and that he is not brought to a standstill because this would be grave for the Church,” he added in an interview with the Marist general house press office in Rome.

Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed on March 24, 1980, when he was celebrating Mass at the small chapel of a cancer hospital where he lived.
He spoke out on behalf of the poor and those repressed by the government of El Savador after witnessing himself numerous violations of human rights.

src=http://old.champagnat.org/shared/bau/RomeroMartirDeLaJusticia.png“He soon became famous in the country and in the world for his eloquent speeches and sermons that were intended to stop somehow the violence of war that existed in the country,” said brother López. “His homilies were widely spread for their deep content.” 

He was shot dead after speaking boldly against the U.S. military support for the Salvadoran government and asking soldiers to disobey orders and to not shoot innocent people.

“All of the press was extremely conservative, and attacked him in a direct way,” said brother Santiago Otero, a Marist from Spain who taught in El Salvador in the 1980s.
Brother Otero revealed that Romero had a “good relationship with the (Marist) brothers, especially in the city of San Miguel.”

“He had a special love for some of the brothers, like brothers Gregorio Izquierdo, Mariano Blanco, Santiago Cisneros, Moisés Cisneros, Armando Márquez and a few others,” he remarked.

Brother Otero also revealed that some of these relationships were not so good when Romero became Archbishop because the Marists are conservative.

But he belives that “the younger and those born in El Salvador are happy to see the beatification of Archbishop Romero.”

Brother López was a friend of Oscar Romero and knew him well.

“I met Monsignor Romero and we were very good friends,” he said. “I met him when I worked in San Miguel and he was the parish priest of the Cathedral.”

“I invited him several times to give talks to the brothers and students (and) when he was archbishop, I visited him on a few occasions,” he added.

The brother recounted how one of his visits to Romero was to give him his condolences for the death of Father Rutilio Grande adding that “we had a long conversation there.”

“They published his diary after his death and he calls me one of his friends on two different pages dated March and October,” said brother López.

He revealed that Romero was never chaplain of any Marist centre but was invited occasionally to celebrate events of religious historical importance.

But not everyone was a friend of Romero, and according to a Marist brother of Guatemala, “they were difficult years for the Central American Church.”
“The Sandinista revolution was being successful in Nicaragua and people began to feel fear, suspicion and that the government was deviating,” said brother Marcelino Ganzaraín.

“I remember it was in El Salvador where I felt the Church fracture,” he told the general house press office.

The brother told how meetings were organized with a cardinal, bishops, religious and government ministers of El Salvador and Nicaragua to “have the broadest and most objective view as posible of the different realities” in Central America.

“The most painful thing was listening to the opinion of several bishops about Romero,” remarked brother Ganzaraín. “They accused him of being ambitious, of being a traitor and of not being impartial.” 

Another Marist of El Salvador, brother Juan Carlos Bolaños Viscarra, also expressed his gratification for the new step towards Romero’s canonization stressing that “us Marists can live this beatification with a sincere and deep joy.”

“It’s an invitation to revitalize our mission, educating on peace, reconciliation, justice and human rights, making us more present in the realities of El Salvador’s poverty and suffering,” he stated.

The picture above was taken in 1974 during the 50th anniversary of the Marist Salvadoran high school after Mass and lunch with Romero (centre). 

Br Emili Turú - August 2014

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