By: Ellen Teague
Bishop Patrick Lynch
Several hundred people gathered at St George's Cathedral Southwark today, to celebrate the Feast of Blessed Oscar Romero. The principle celebrant was Bishop Patrick Lynch, auxiliary in Southwark, and at least 16 priests concelebrated. Among them were Frank Turner SJ; Fr Joe Ryan of Westminster Justice and Peace; and Columban Tom Ryan. Several priests travelled from East Anglia where the late Bishop Michael Evans, a trustee of the Archbishop Romero Trust, had served.
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero. In El Salvador it has been declared the Year of Romero, and throughout the world people are celebrating the life, witness and enduring legacy of the Archbishop of San Salvador. Romero was Archbishop between 1977 and 1980, and from his cathedral pulpit became the voice of the voiceless poor and victims of violence during the country's civil war. He was assassinated on 24 March 1980 as he was celebrating Mass. Thirty-five years later, he was declared a martyr of the Church, killed out of hatred of the faith, and was beatified on 23 May 2015.
In his homily, Bishop Lynch reflected on the 'Road to Emmaus' story in the Gospel. Romero himself felt it was a story highlighting the move from desperation "to faith and hope". Jesus walked with the disciples in their despair, shared scripture and a meal, until they recognised him in the breaking of the bread. After that they were transformed and rushed back to Jerusalem to share their new-found faith. "Luke's Gospel shows us what it means to reach out to those who suffer and to rebuild community" said Bishop Lynch; and "Romero reached out, wanting to free people from fear, and he had a deep sense of belonging to the Church". Bishop Lynch felt Pope Francis carries on this tradition of outreach to those who suffer.
The bidding prayers at the Mass were read by Julian Filochowski, chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust, who knew Romero personally. There were prayers for the poorest peoples and communities across the world and agencies who work with them. Those who have died working for justice and peace were also remembered. There were several hymns with a social justice theme by popular hymn writer Bernadette Farrell.
Many at the Mass will also be attending the annual ecumenical service at St Martin in the Fields - 11am on Saturday 25 March. And later in the year, there will be an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Romero on a pilgrimage to El Salvador.
For more information on Romero Centenary events and pilgrimage information see: www.romerotrust.org.uk/news/romero-centenary-events
See more pictures from the celebration on ICN's Facebook page