Erasmo Valiente works with our partner Jesuit Development Service in El Salvador giving advice to farmers on how to keep crops healthy. In 2013 he visited Connect2 El Salvador parishes in England and was overwhelmed to discover that so many people in the UK have been inspired by the example of Archbishop Romero. His community in El Salvador is eagerly awaiting the beatification of Oscar Romero on 23 May when buses will take people from nearly every parish in the country to San Salvador and celebrations will be broadcast on television.
In El Salvador we refer to our martyr Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez as the voice of the voiceless. We call him this because always his primary concern was to speak out for the most excluded members of society, denouncing social injustice and military repression. His dedication to the poorest took the form of a pastoral conversion, and a spiritual commitment to lay down his life for the resurrection of our people.
His response to the death threats he received was, “If God accepts my life as sacrifice, my blood will be a seed of freedom”. His preaching was always full of humility and peace, and constant communication with God, which gave him the strength and wisdom to speak the truth freely and with dignity in defence of human life.
Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez knew that death was coming, but he chose not to escape the country; he stayed with his people, even after death. “As pastor, I am obliged by divine order to give my life for those I love, that is all Salvadorans, even those who will assassinate me. If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran People”.
Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez spoke with humility, for in fact he has been resurrected not just in our country but in many countries of the world, wherever his message of faith and hope is heard.
Romero said: “Religion isn’t just about prayer. Religion is the guarantee that God is close to me because I care for my brothers”. With these words, we are inspired to put solidarity and unity into practice in order to find the living God when we help those in need.
Now his martyrdom is recognised, and as Salvadorans we feel proud and very happy that soon he will take his place amongst the saints, a special place that he deserves.
May it be so.