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Remembering Oscar Romero

By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register


“I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people.”
-- Archbishop Oscar Romero

Archbishop Oscar Romero was resurrected in the hearts of his people in the Diocese of Dodge City when Father Lorenzo Cruz of El Salvador celebrated Mass in his memory at St. Mary Parish in Garden City May 1.
More than 300 people from the Central American country gathered in the gymnasium of St. Mary School to honor their beloved archbishop – a symbol of the poor and oppressed -- who was martyred 30 years ago March 24.

Prior to Mass, two little girls dressed in native garb held a large banner with a photo of Archbishop Romero. With them stood Deacon Martin Hermocillo, Father Cruz, Sister Maria Elena Martinez, MCMI and other Religious and members of the local Salvadoran community.
Together, the group processed along the grounds of the school, singing, praying and providing witness to all those who passed by.
Once inside, Father Cruz, pastor of Santa Rose of Lima Parish in El Salvador, told those gathered that the image of Archbishop Romero is a symbol to them, much as the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a symbol to the people of Mexico.
“I want to invite you to help the story of Romero to be spread,” the priest said.
Archbishop Romero was appointed archbishop of San Salvador, the capitol of El Salvador, in 1977. Within three weeks of his appointment, his vicar general, Rutilio Granda, was ambushed and killed for having defended the peasants’ rights to organize farm cooperatives. Two parishioners who were with the vicar general were also killed.
Upon driving to the remote area to view the body, Archbishop Romero encountered a people living in fear and oppression. From both the pulpit and through weekly radio broadcasts, the archbishop began to speak against the horrible atrocities committed by the Salvadoran military, which was funded in part by the United States in its efforts to weed out Castro-supported communists from the region.
As is documented by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the funding unfortunately also enabled the military to kill, rape, and kidnap thousands of innocent people.
While celebrating Mass the day before he was assassinated, Archbishop Romero spoke directly to the military, which was composed mostly of peasants.
“Brothers, you are from the same people; you kill your fellow peasant. . . . No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God. In the name of God then, in the name of this suffering people I ask you, I beg you, I command you in the name of God: Stop the repression.”
Archbishop Romero was shot with an M-16 assault rifle March 24, 1980, while elevating the chalice during Mass in a hospital chapel. A U.N. report noted that the man who ordered the killing was Roberto D’Aubuisson, a graduate of what was then the School of the Americas military training camp at Fort Benning, Georgia. During Romero’s funeral, 20 of his supporters were killed by sniper fire.
Nine months after the death of Archbishop Romero, Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford and Dorothy Kazel were raped and killed in El Salvador. American lay missionary, Jean Donovan, also was murdered with the three nuns. In 1989, six Jesuit priests were murdered by the military in El Salvador.  
During the armed conflict, which lasted from 1980 to 1992, more than 75,000 Salvadorans were killed, one million fled the country, and another million were left homeless.
Father Cruz told those gathered in St. Mary’s gymnasium that so controversial is the Catholic archbishop today, that “in my diocese we have been able to celebrate the anniversary of his death for only eight years.   
“If I give food or clothes to the poor – I’m a saint,” Father Cruz said. “If I ask the cause of the lack of necessities and health care, they say I’m a Communist.”
Father Cruz said that, like Jesus, Archbishop Romero was aware of his fate. Just days before his death, Romero said, “You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish.”
Following Mass, a home-made meal of Salvadoran cuisine was served to all in attendance.
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Sister Janice Thome, O.P., for translating parts of Father Cruz’s homily during the Mass.

 

Recordando a Oscar Romero

“No creo en la muerte sin resurrección. Si me matan, yo resucitaré en la gente Salvadoreña. ”   
-- Arzobispo Oscar Romero

Arzobispo  Oscar Romero fue resucitado en los corazones de su gente en la Diócesis de Dodge City, cuando el Padre Lorenzo Cruz de El Salvador celebró la Misa en su memoria en la Parroquia Santa María de Garden City, el 1ro de mayo.
Más de 300 personas del país Centroamericano y sus familias se reunieron en el gimnasio de la Escuela Sta. María para honrar a su querido arzobispo- un símbolo del pobre y del oprimido—quien fue martirizado hace 30 años  el 24 de marzo.
Antes de la Misa, dos niñitas vestidas en su traje nativo portaban una gran estandarte con una foto del Arzobispo Romero. Con ellos estaba el Diácono Martín Hermocillo, Padre Cruz, la hermana María Elena Martínez , MCMI, otras Religiosas y miembros de la comunidad Salvadoreña local.
Juntos, el grupo caminó a lo largo de los terrenos de la escuela, cantando, orando y dando testimonio a todo aquel que pasara por allí.
Una vez dentro, el Padre Cruz, pastor de la Parroquia Santa Rosa de Lima en el Salvador, le dijo a todos los reunidos que la imagen del Arzobispo Romero es un símbolo para ellos tanto como lo es la Imagen de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe un símbolo para el pueblo de México.
“Quiero invitarlos para que ayuden a que la historia de Romero sea divulgada,” dijo el sacerdote.
El Arzobispo Romero fue asignado arzobispo de San Salvador, la capital del El Salvador, en 1977. Dentro de tres semanas de su nombramiento,  su vicario general Rutilio Granda, fue embaucado y asesinado  por haber defendido los derechos de los campesinos  de organizar cooperativas agrarias. Dos feligreses que estaban con el vicario general también fueron asesinados.
Ante la llegada al área remota para ver el cuerpo, el Arzobispo Romero encontró a un pueblo viviendo entre el miedo y la opresión. Desde ambos: el púlpito y a través de los medios de comunicación, el arzobispo comenzó a hablar en contra de  las horribles  atrocidades cometidas por la armada Salvadoreña.
Mientras celebraba la Misa el día antes que él fuera asesinado, el Arzobispo Romero habló directamente a su milicia, la cual estaba compuesta en su mayoría por campesinos.
“Hermanos, ustedes provienen de la misma gente; ustedes matan a sus paisanos campesinos. Ningún soldado está obligado a obedecer una orden que es contraria a la voluntad de Dios. En el nombre de Dios y en el nombre de esta gente sufrida les pido, les suplico y les ordeno: que detengan la represión.”
El arzobispo Romero fue disparado a saldo de rifle de una M-16, el 24 de marzo del 1980, mientras elevaba la copa durante la Misa en la capilla del Hospital de ese mismo día.  El reporte de A U.N. señaló que aquel hombre que ordenó a matar fue  Roberto D’Aubuisson, un graduando del campamento de entrenamiento de la la Escuela militar de las Americas en Fort Benning,  Georgia. Durante el funeral de Romero 20 de sus seguidores fueron asesinados  a fuego de un francotirador.
El Padre Cruz dijo que, como Jesús, el Arzobispo Romero sabía su destino.  Ya casi unos días antes de su muerte, Romero dijo: “Pueden decirle a la gente que si ellos logran matarme, que yo los perdono y  bendigo a los que lo hicieron.  Con esperanza, ellos se darán cuenta que están perdiendo el tiempo. Un Obispo morirá, pero la iglesia de Dios, que es la gente, nunca morirá.”
Seguida la Misa, una comida preparada por manos Salvadoreñas fue servida para todos los asistentes.

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