Washington — A group of Blessed Oscar Romero devotees in the U.S. is inviting parishes around the country to mark on Aug. 15 what would have been the slain Salvadoran archbishop's 100th birthday.
From Washington to Dallas to Los Angeles, parishes are planning events honoring the Salvadoran archbishop, popularly known as the "voice of the voiceless," on or around his birth date, which also marks the feast of the Assumption. In a statement, the Archbishop Oscar Romero U.S. Centennial Commission said it invites churches "to honor Blessed Romero by including a petition or other remembrance during Assumption Day Masses."
"Romero found great inspiration in Mary and called her 'the first Christian' and 'ideal of the church,' " said the statement, adding that Romero, who was martyred in 1980 as he celebrated Mass and was beatified in 2015, used the Assumption of Mary "to help us understand the knowledge of our heavenly destiny, which we will one day enjoy in glorified bodily form like Mary."
The group suggested that U.S. parishes wishing to mark the day use a Romero quote during the homily on the feast of the Assumption, pray the Romero novena created by the Archdiocese of San Salvador, or use the hashtag #Romero100 to share with others the centennial on social media. The commission also suggests other activities in its romero100.org website, which provides materials, including the novena, in English.
"What better way to honor Blessed Romero's Centennial than to pray for the continuance of his memory and work in our communities today," the group said.
In California, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles will join other Catholic parishes around the country — and the world — celebrating the Salvadoran martyr's centennial with a commemorative Mass Aug. 13. In England, the famed Westminster Abbey will also mark the centennial with an evensong service in September.
"A tireless advocate for the poor and critic of violence and injustice in his native El Salvador, Archbishop Romero was martyred while celebrating Mass in 1980. He has become an international hero," said the statement.
The group said it is "fitting and proper for the church in the U.S. to remember Romero, because, in the words of Pope Francis, 'This is what the church in El Salvador is called to today, in America and in the whole world: to be rich in mercy and to become a leaven of reconciliation for society. ... May those who hold Archbishop Romero as a friend of faith, those who invoke him as protector and intercessor, those who admire his image, find in him the strength and courage to build the kingdom of God."