There are three special events to look forward to in this month of March as we mark the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Oscar Romero. Our diocese has a wonderful association with him: we have the proud tradition of having honoured the memory of his death for each of the 40 years since 1980 with an annual Mass in his honour; his statue is displayed prominently in our cathedral; and this month we are amazed to be receiving a relic of the saint. This will make us the only other place in the world apart from the site of his martyrdom to have an actual relic that was part of the saint rather than part of his clothing.
Two of our priests, Fathers Chris Fallon and Stephen Pritchard, recently visited Nicaragua and El Salvador with CAFOD and we can read some of their stories and reflections elsewhere in this edition of the Pictorial. Here are two quotations from St Oscar Romero to give a flavour of the man. Challenging us to take our baptism seriously, he said:
‘Each one of you has to be God’s microphone. Each one of you has to be a messenger, a prophet. The Church will always exist as long as there is someone who has been baptised … Where is your baptism? You are baptised in your professions, in the fields of workers, in the market. Wherever there is someone who has been baptised, that is where the Church is. There is a prophet there. Let us not hide the talent that God gave us on the day of our baptism and let us truly live the beauty and responsibility of being a prophetic people.’
His insistence that Church must be involved in the world by defending the rights and dignity of the poorest members of society is an inspiration to us as we work towards our Synod in October. His is not a Church that only exists inside church buildings:
‘A Church that doesn't provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn't unsettle, a word of God that doesn't get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn't touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed — what gospel is that?’
Dates for the diary:
Monday 23 March: The relic is received into the Metropolitan Cathedral during evening prayer at 6pm. It will be handed to Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP by Julian Filochowski from the Romero Trust.
Sunday 29 March: 40th Annual Romero Mass at 11am at St Gregory’s, Weld Bank, Chorley PR7 3NW. The celebrant will be Fr Graeme Dunne, with Clare Dixon, head of CAFOD’s Latin America Department, giving the homily. Mass will include a chance to venerate the relic of St Oscar Romero.
Sunday 29 March: 6pm Mass celebrated by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon in the chapel at Hope University, L16 9JD, including a chance to venerate the relic. Mass will be followed by refreshments then a talk and Q+A with Clare Dixon (from 7.15pm).
All are welcome at both events.