By: Jo Siedlecka
A special Evensong, commemorating the centenary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero took place at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 23rd September. During the service, a relic of Archbishop Romero - a piece of the blood-stained alb in which he was martyred - was displayed on the High Altar in a reliquary designed by the Salvadoran artist Fernando Llort.
Julian Filochowski, Chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust, laid a wreath beneath Romero’s statue the start of the service.
Mrs Elisabeth Hayek Weinmann, Ambassador of El Salvador, attended. The Welcome was given by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who also led the Act of Rededication and pronounced the Blessing. An audio extract from a Homily given by Archbishop Romero at Mass on Sunday 23rd March 1980 in the Basilica del Sagrado Corazon, San Salvador, was played.
The Sermon was given by the Rt Rev and Rt Hon Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth. Loretta Minghella OBE, Chief Executive, Christian Aid, read Isaiah 61: 1 - 9; and Julie Etchingham, CAFOD Ambassador, read St James 2: 5 - 13. Prayers were led by the Reverend Christopher Stoltz, Minor Canon and Precentor, and said by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, and the Reverend Anthony Ball, Canon in Residence.
Among those seated in the Sacrarium were the Most Reverend Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, Bishop John Arnold, Bishop William Kenney, Bishop John Rawsthorne and HE The Most Reverend Edward Joseph Adams, Apostolic Nuncio.
The service was sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey conducted by James O'Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. During the service the Choir sang a powerful new anthem composed by the internationally acclaimed composer, James MacMillan. Based on a sermon by Blessed Oscar Romero and Psalm 31- 13-14, it was specially commissioned for the event by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster.
The organ was played by Matthew Jorysz, Assistant Organist, and before the service by Benjamin Cunningham, Organ Scholar.
The service was recorded by BBC Radio 3 and will be broadcast at a future date.
Earlier that day, there was a performance of ‘’Romero – Heartbeat of El Salvador' a new play by RISE Theatre in association with The Archbishop Romero Trust, at St Stephen's with St John, Rochester Row. (ICN review coming soon).
Read more about the Oscar Romero Trust here: www.romerotrust.org.uk
See also: ICN 23 September 2017 - Lord Rowan Williams: Sermon at Evensong in Westminster Abbey for Romero Centenary - www.indcatholicnews.com/news/33469