Oscar Romero and CAFOD

Archbishop Oscar Romero gave his life, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “for the Church and the people of his beloved country” of El Salvador.

Until his assassination, Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980) of San Salvador spoke out courageously in defence of human rights and social justice in strife-torn El Salvador.

Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was born in Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador, on August 15, 1917. One of ten children. He was apprenticed to a local carpenter when he was 13 years old but he felt a vocation for the priesthood.  He left home the following year to enter the seminary and was ordained in 1942.

Romero spent the first twenty-five years of his ministry as a parish priest and diocesan secretary in San Miguel. In 1970 he became auxiliary bishop of San Salvador where he remained for four years until 1974 when the Vatican named him to the see of Santiago de María, a poor, rural diocese which included the town he grew up in.

In 1977 he returned to San Salvador to succeed Archbishop Luis Chávez y González, who had retired after almost 40 years in office.

Oscar Romero was living in a period of dramatic change in the Church in Latin America.

As Clare Dixon, Head of CAFOD in Latin America told us in the Cornerstone in Cardiff on Saturday 6 October, the region’s bishops, had met at Medellín in Colombia, in 1967 to discuss how to implement the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), locally.

Canon Peter Collins and CAFOD supporters and J & P campaigners at The Cornerstone in Cardiff to hear Clare Dixon, CAFOD’s Head of Programme in Latin America for almost 40 years.

El Salvador was an extremely conservative society where a privileged few enjoyed enormous wealth at the expense of the very impoverished majority. Some younger priests recognized the injustice and imbalance of this situation and sided with the poor but the lone voice of encouragement in their efforts came from Archbishop Chávez y González.

During this period Oscar Romero was seen as a conservative and sometimes sceptical of both the Vatican II reforms and the Medellin pronouncements.

So when he was appointed Archbishop in 1977, he was not a popular choice with the politically active clergy, who saw his appointment as preserving the status quo in a safe pair of hands.

However, Romero emerged almost immediately as an outspoken opponent of injustice and fearless defender of the poor and suffering.

Romero himself said that he owed his change of attitude to his time as Bishop of Santiago de María, where he witnessed firsthand the suffering of El Salvador’s landless poor.

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Romero talk by Clare Dixon

Blessed Oscar Romero, due to be canonised in October, was one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th Century. In preparation for his canonisation we are delighted to welcome speaker Clare Dixon, who has an incredible insight and knowledge of Romero’s legacy through her work and close ties with communities in Latin America.

The Cornerstone, Charles St, Cardiff, CF10 2GA

Sat 6 October – 7:00pm

Mass 5:30, tea and coffee 6:30, talk at 7:00pm

FREE -All Welcome Continue reading

Upcoming events

We don’t usually publish an Ebulletin in August as so many people are away, but we thought that it would be useful to give you an early heads up of dates for forthcoming events.

Saturday 1  September Day of reflection at Ty Croeso Centre, Llantarnam  Abbey from 11 am to 4 pm.  (Coffee from 10.30 am).  Free event, please bring a packed lunch.  We are meeting on  the 4th World  Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation – as instituted by Pope Francis. 

Sunday 9 September– Share the Journey walk following Mass at Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, Hereford.

Monday 17 September – Education Refresher Day in the Mostyn Room (next to St David’s Cathedral in Cardiff) 10-4 pm.  Existing and potential new School volunteers explore the Family Fast Day resources.

Friday 21 September – Share the Journey walk at The Priory of Our Lady & St Michael, 10 Pen-y-Pound, Abergavenny NP7 5UD

Saturday 22 September – CAFOD Supporter Day at Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Promenade Terrace, Mumbles SA3 4DR.  We have requested a speaker for the event, tbc.

Saturday 29 September –  CAFOD Supporter Day at Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs in Hereford, following on from the Soup Kitchen (12-2) starting at 2.30-4 pm. We have requested a speaker for the event tbc.

Friday 5 October – CAFOD Family Fast Day

Saturday 6 October – Oscar Romero talk by Clare Dixon.  Clare has been Head of CAFOD’s Latin America programmes for nearly 40 years – and since its inception in 2005 she has been Secretary of the Archbishop Romero Trust.  Join us at The Cornerstone, Cardiff (opposite St David’s Cathedral)  Time 7 pm (following Mass in the Cathedral at 5.30 pm).

14 October – Canonisation of Oscar Romero

Tuesday 16 OctoberCAFOD Education training Day 1 for new schools volunteers 10 am – 4 pm.  The Quaker Meeting House in Cardiff (past St David’s Cathedral and the Cornerstone and keep walking). If you are interested in joining our schools volunteer team, please contact southwales@cafod.org.uk

Wednesday 24 October – Talk by Barbara Davies on the peace process in Colombia and an update on Hands On. 12 noon at The Temple of Peace, King Edward VII Ave, Cardiff CF10 3AP

Saturday 10 November – Campaign retreat day at Downside Abbey (10-4 pm). Countering Consumerism: Lessons from Gaudete et Exsultate. All welcome.  Book here.

Monday 12 NovemberMemorial Mass for the Diocese of Menevia at St David’s Priory  Church, Swansea at 12.30 pm.   All welcome.

Sunday 18 November – World Day of the Poor

Monday 19 November Memorial Mass for the Cardiff Archdiocese at St Helen’s Church, Nantagarew Road, Caerphilly CF83 3FB at 7 pm.  All welcome.

Tuesday 27 November – CAFOD Education Training Day 2  (10-4) in the Mostyn Room, adjacent to St David’s Cathedral in Cardiff.

Thursday 29 November – Campaign Retreat Day of Reflection for parish and campaign volunteers – Ty Croeso Centre, Llantarnam Abbey (11-4). Please bring a packed lunch.  All welcome.  Please let us know if you are able to attend.  Tel: 02920 344882 or email southwales@cafod.org.uk

Romero Festival in South Wales (9-15 March)

Today brought wonderful news from the Vatican: Pope Francis has recognized a second miracle from Blessed Oscar Romero which puts him on the path to canonization.

He was beatified by Pope Francis in May 2015.

Romero was Archbishop of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. He was assassinated on 24 March 1980 as he was celebrating Mass.

At the time, El Salvador was in the grip of a cruel civil war between guerrilla forces on the left and a dictatorial government on the right.

When he was appointed, Oscar Romero was seen as a “safe” pair of hands but during his three short years as Archbishop, and seeing the oppression and violence at first hand, he became an outspoken critic of the injustice he was witnessing all around him. Continue reading