Many years ago, on March 24, 1980, while I was a first year seminarian at Mundelein, Oscar Romero was assassinated. I heard about it through one of the seminarians who knew about Romero and violence in El Salvador. Until then, I had never heard of Romero, nor did I have any knowledge about the realities in el Salvador and Romero’s prophetic voice. Somehow, at that moment , I was drawn into the story of his life and the persuasive teachings of liberation theology. Oscar Romero is one of the most important people in my life and priesthood.
Nothing could prepare me for the experience of standing in the very spot behind the altar in the chapel of Divine Providence Hospital. The spot is HOLY… He knew he was going to be killed and had to have seen the van pull up in front of the doors to the chapel. He had to have see the open window with the rifle pointing towards him. He surrendered. Romero was killed because of the hatred of the Faith. This must be understood, for there were/are many in the Church who question whether he was killed for the Faith or simply for political reasons. This is why it has taken so long for the Church to FINALLY beatify this martyr. Certain church leaders felt Romero bordered on being a Marxist who tried to foment violence. Ridiculous!! Just read his homilies and speeches. This prophet threatened so many in the church, even here in El Salvador. Not everyone here loves Romero or wants to have anything to do with him. Sad…
Prophets will always be killed or attempted to be silenced. Romero’s Voice continues to be heard, for he can never be silenced, not even by a bullet. He is a Voice for the Voiceless. What is the voice of Romero trying to tell us in the States? What might he be saying to us about our economy…the way we spend our money, our use of power, our constant spending? It is known who his assisin was and that the President of El Salvador ordered the killing. In our own country is a “school” to teach people how to assassinate political leaders. The one who shot Romero may very well have been “schooled” here. Wherever he learned, he was an expert shooter. One single bullet in the heart.
Romero lives in my heart.
Peace. Fr. Frank