Romero Center seeks to emulate ideals of slain archbishop

On Feb. 3, Pope Francis signed the decree recognizing the martyrdom of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, killed “in hatred of the faith” on March 24, 1980, as he celebrated Mass in a San Salvador hospital chapel. Now, the beatification cause for the outspoken advocate of the poor can move forward, paving the way for his eventual sainthood.

For past and current staff members at the Camden ministry that bears the archbishop’s name, it’s the pontiff officially declaring something they’ve believed all along.

“It wasn’t a surprise; it was only a matter of time,” said Teresa Reyes, staff member at Romero Center Ministries, part of St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral Parish in East Camden.

As Urban Challenge Associate at the center, she works with visiting high school groups in retreat experiences, in the center and on Camden streets, that bring to light Romero’s witness and the transformative power of living out the Gospel to stop societal injustice.

“Archbishop Romero was a voice for the voiceless,” Reyes continued. Through working at soup kitchens and homeless shelters in the inner-city, youth hear “powerful, and eye-opening” stories of the poor, individuals not unlike the ones Archbishop Romero fought for.

“We’re excited” about the news, said Patrick Cashio, executive director of the Romero Center Ministries, who added that the center will make plans for when Romero is beatified.

The postulator, or chief promotor, of Archbishop Romero’s sainthood cause, Arcbhishop Vincenzo Paglia, last month said the beatification would be “certainly within the year and not later, but possibly within a few months.”

“It’s validating for the people of San Salvador” and those at the Romero Center, said Cashio, who “replicate the life of Oscar Romero and use their voices to speak up on behalf of the poor and marginalized.”

Pat Slater, current pastoral associate for Justice and Community Outreach at Christ Our Light in Cherry Hill, was the first executive director when the Romero Center first opened its doors in March 1998. In her work, she “embraced the call to serve more on the edge” of society, and provide “immersive Catholic social justice education and ministry.”

Archbishop Romero’s “prophetic vision is something Pope Francis embraces,” she said. “His sacrifice should be celebrated.”

With the Pope’s decree of Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom, the beatification requirement of a miracle attributed to a candidate’s intercession is removed. However, a miracle attributed to Archbishop Romero, would still be needed for his canonization.

Categories: Latest News

About Author