May 20, 2015
Father Rob Esdaile is the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lourdes in Surrey. He visited El Salvador in 1999 and shares his reflections on what Blessed Oscar Romero can teach us today.
I had the privilege of going to El Salvador early in 1999 in the company of Father John Medcalf, a fellow diocesan priest (who had himself worked in both El Salvador and Nicaragua). John had been invited to observe the presidential elections and thought it would do me good to go along.
Even 19 years after the murder of El Monseñor and 7 years after the end of El Salvador’s Civil War, the wounds caused by the violence he denounced lay just below the surface. My visit was punctuated by encounters with the bereaved, with witnesses to atrocity, and with places stained still with memories of blood.
But I also visited the hospital chapel where Romero died saying Mass and the little bungalow next door where he lived in utter simplicity. And I prayed at his tomb in the Cathedral of San Salvador, where it became apparent that already the people understood that he was their saint – San Romero.
As I reflect on the story of the Archbishop 35 years after his Martyrdom in my comfortable, wealthy, beautiful, non-violent suburban London parish, three things strike me.