March 24th, the 37th anniversary of his assassination at the altar, was Blessed Oscar Romero’s Feast Day.
Romero’s life and martyrdom were celebrated across Britain last week with special Masses, ecumenical services, talks and lectures.
On Sunday March 19th, the archdiocese of Liverpool marked its 37th consecutive annual memorial to Oscar Romero with a special Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King celebrated by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, during which a bust of Archbishop Romero by the artist Rory Young was blessed prior to its permanent placement in one of the Cathedral chapels. Click for images.
Theologian, Sister Martha Zechmeister CJ, the guest speaker of the Archbishop Romero Trust from El Salvador, opened a week-long tour with a lecture in Wales. Bishop Peter Brignall hosted a meeting in Wrexham Cathedral at which she spoke to launch Romero Week in Britain (Sr Martha with Bishop Brignall and Julian Filochowski).
In Scotland, she delivered her lecture (which was co-sponsored by SCIAF) entitled ‘The Secret of Romero: Passion for God and Compassion for the Poor’ in Edinburgh and Glasgow. At St Aloysius College, Glasgow, the lecture was preceded by the formal renaming of their ‘Centre for Social and Environmental Justice’ as the ‘Romero Centre’ - embracing Oscar Romero as a Patron of its work.
She also spoke to substantial audiences wishing to honour Blessed Oscar Romero in Sheffield, Horsham and Canterbury. But the climax of her visit was the National Ecumenical Service held in St Martin in the Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, on Saturday March 25th at which she gave the address. Churches Together in England, alongside the Embassy of El Salvador, was a co-sponsor of the Service this year.
A beautiful new hymn commissioned, especially for this Romero Centenary Year, from the composer, Chris Olding, had its premiere performance at this Service. You can find the hymn words and melody HERE. You can read the text of Sr Martha's reflection HERE.
On March 24th itself, in Sale, Greater Manchester, All Saints parish hosted a performance of Rise Theatre’s new play ‘Romero – Heartbeat of El Salvador’. Find out more about the play on the Rise Theatre website HERE.
The MOST SIGNIFICANT celebration was without doubt the Feast Day Mass celebrated at midday on March 24th in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, by Bishop Patrick Lynch SSCC with 16 concelebrants from Southwark, East Anglia, and beyond. The special Indult obtained from Rome permitted St George’s to celebrate the Feast Day Mass in exactly the same way as the Church in El Salvador with red vestments and using the specially composed Collect Prayer for Blessed Oscar Romero. Some 200 people took part in the Mass (which was offered for the repose of the soul of the late Bishop Michael Evans) and a Lenten lunch of bread and cheese followed - courtesy of CAFOD. Images of the celebration can be viewed HERE.
Romero Week 2017 was part of the events to mark the Romero Centenary - 100 years since the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero. More events are taking place during the year, including Evensong in Westminster Abbey on 23 September and the annual Romero Lecture, which this year will be delivered by the renowned theologian, Gustavo Gutiérrez. Up-to-date information can be found HERE.