By Marta de Monge (Sister Parish committee member)
Potrerillos Community, Nombre de Jesus, Chalatenango, El Salvador
Oscar Arnulfo Romero Galdamez was born in Ciudad Barrios in San Miguel on August 15 of 1917. He came from a modest family like our Lord Jesus. He was baptized on May 11, 1919 in the church of Ciudad Barrios. His father, Santos, was a telegraph operator and his mom was a housewife.
During his childhood, his father taught him to enjoy reading and reflecting in silence. He loved to help his father distribute the mail and telegrams around town. From his mother, he learned devotion to the Virgin Mary and the Saints. He was fed with piety, prayers and compassion. We know that Oscar Romero was a very reserved and shy boy. He was a very good student, not very good at math, but really good at social sciences and music. Oscar had to leave school at the age of 12 because he was very sick. Later, he worked as a carpenter.
Once, he was invited to a priest’s ordination. That is when Oscar felt the call to become a priest and he decided to go and live at the seminary in San Miguel in 1931 at the age of 12. He lived there for 6 years. There were times when he had to interrupt his studies at the seminary in order to work to support his family through economic difficulties. Time after time, he returned to the seminary until he was ordained as a priest.
Throughout his life, Romero got to know and love God with all his heart and soul; that is the Monsignor Romero we know. In April 1941 he wrote: “I have taken state into the sacred heart of Jesus; today Lord, I just ask you one thing, faithfulness”.
When we see Monsignor Romero’s life, we can understand and see how the life and teaching of Jesus was brought to life once again in Romero. There is no doubt. We see a lot of similarities between Romero and Jesus. Romero, for instance, decided to become a priest at the age of 12. He also worked as a carpenter and carried out a three-year ministry, similar to Jesus’ three years of preaching.
Oscar Arnulfo Romero’s public life was like seeing Jesus walk through El Salvador. Jesus walked through Jerusalem and the people did not recognize him as the Messiah; Romero walked through El Salvador and his people did not recognize him as the prophet. They crucified Jesus and they did not recognize him as the Messiah. The story is repeated with Monsignor Romero; he was also martyred and still many people did not recognize Christ in him.
Romero was a man of God and our friend, an example to follow. As Christians we are called to denounce, to speak out against injustice, and to fight the indifference shown to the suffering and the poor. We feel proud to have this Saint from El Salvador. We need to understand that we are all called to be Saints by following Jesus Christ.
Since his birth Oscar Romero was the new Christ, not just for El Salvador but for all people around the world. Jesus was Christ not just for the people of Israel or Jerusalem but also for all people around the world; he is Christ even for those who are not Christians.
Romero saw no difference between rich and poor. He suffered with those who were suffering and he shared joy with those who had joy.
For me, all of this means he is a Saint and an inspiration in my life. I am very happy that we have a Saint from our country. Like Jesus, Monsignor Romero was a man for humanity. Romero, like Jesus, gave his life for his love of humanity, his love of justice, and his efforts to build the new kingdom of God here on earth with peace and love.