A special Evensong to be held at Westminster Abbey in honour of the Blessed Oscar Romero, on 23 September, will include the first performance of a specially commissioned anthem by internationally acclaimed composer, James MacMillan.
People from across the UK will gather together at the invitation of the Dean, the Very Rev John Hall, Lord Rowan Williams, Patron of the Archbishop Romero Trust and Chair of Christian Aid, who will deliver the sermon; Cardinal Nichols and representatives of Churches Together in England.
In 1998 Romero’s statue was unveiled as one of the ten modern martyrs above the Abbey’s Great West Door.
The 15 August marked Oscar Romero’s 100th birthday; at his beautification lead by Pope Francis in El Salvador’s capital, Sans Salvador, in May 2015, he said: ‘May those who hold Archbishop Romero as a friend of faith… find in him the strength and courage to build the kingdom of God.’
During three tumultuous years as Archbishop of San Salvador, Romero braved death threats time and again to denounce violence and speak out on behalf of the victims of his country’s civil war. He was a remarkable man, who was inspired by his faith to fight not just poverty but injustice, to give a voice to the voiceless. His refusal to be silenced cost him his life – he was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass.
Today, his legacy of standing up for the poorest communities continues. Across the world, and in his beloved El Salvador, the Church is at the forefront of supporting social justice and human rights defenders - courageous individuals who go out of their way to defend rights of the poorest in society.
CAFOD Director, Chris Bain, said: “Oscar Romero was one of one of the most inspirational figures of the 20th Century, who was inspired by his faith to fight not just poverty but injustice, to give a voice to the voiceless. Blessed Oscar Romero didn’t simply talk about the need to love your neighbour, but courageously denounced violence and named the injustices that plagued his country. CAFOD staff and supporters, like millions of Catholics around the world, hold him in the highest regard. It is a wonderful occasion for us to come together, during his centenary year, and reflect on his powerful example of walking alongside the poorest and marginalised in society.”
There will be many other special events over the rest of the year. In Romero’s Salvadoran birthplace, Ciudad Barrios, and across the globe, liturgical and cultural celebrations are planned.
In London, at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, a special Mass was celebrated on 12 August by Archbishop Peter Smith, and the homily given by Archbishop Paglia, in charge of promoting the recognition of Romero as a saint at the Vatican.
Other events include a lecture in Oxford at the end of November with ‘the father of liberation theology’, Fr Gustavo Gutiérrez OP; a pilgrimage to follow in the footsteps of Blessed Oscar Romero in El Salvador in mid- November; and film screenings of the latest documentary on the martyred archbishop in August.
Evensong at Westminster Abbey will be held on Saturday, 23rd September at 3pm - Register to attend here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/evensong-to-commemorate-the-centenary-of-the-birth-of-blessed-oscar-romero-tickets-35349736012
For more information, please visit www.romerotrust.org.uk and follow on social media via #Romero100
Earlier in the day there will be a performance of a new play about Blessed Oscar Romero. See: Play - 'Romero – Heartbeat of El Salvador' - www.indcatholicnews.com/news/33427