God encourages those who are losing hope…
I’ve been in El Salvador for the last five days, visiting friends and participating in the vigil and the beatification Mass of Monseñor Romero.
I am ready to go home – and to go home with hope.
I spent the evenings in Suchitoto at the Centro Arte para la Paz, a center founded and run by Sister Peggy O’Neill that seeks to promote the arts – especially music, dance, and painting – as well as training in computers and violence alternative programs as ways to promote peace amidst the violence and poverty that plague the region.
This week it was great to see music groups practicing, kids deepening their dance skills with some Julliard students here, working on computers. The center is doing a lot and has hopes to do more, especially in response to the challenges of violence.
I also got to see folks in Suchitoto and the countryside whom I know from my time here in 1992. It was great to see them - especially four generations of the Clavel family. I met the great grandfather - blind and 98 years old, and his blind wife, Edelmira, six of the kids, and many of the grand kids. I even got to see the fourteen year old whom I had held in my arms when he was hours old during a visit many years ago.
Getting soaked in the rain for the vigil on Friday night did not dim my joy at being there and hearing spirited singing of the hymns of Romero, the martyrs, and the faith that seeks liberation. The sharing of umbrellas and tarps was a great witness of the solidarity that Romero inspires. Later I found out that for some here in El Salvador the rain was seen as a blessing of God, commemorating Romero, since there has been little rain in May – when the rainy season usually begins.
Sharing the Mass of beatification with friends was a great joy, sitting alongside women religious who have been giving their lives for the poor – some in Chile, some in El Salvador, and some in Honduras.
Another joy was seeing and hearing the young people singing the songs with a lot of energy. I later found that in some schools the songs are taught as part of the curriculum, to remember the martyrs and the struggles of the people.
It was good, but I am anxious to return home since there is where I feel God continuing to call me, to accompany the people, to share the Good News of Jesus Servant and Liberator, and to help all of us be people of hope.
It’s a temptation to stay in El Salvador – but I am called to be where I see more poverty, less hope, and less solidarity.
And so I go home - with hope.
Photos can be found here.
Other blog entries on my experience of the beatification include:
- Which Romero?
- The Holy Spirit and Romero
- Vigil for Romero with the youth
- Romero, father of the poor
- How El Salvador formed me
- Romero presente
- Saint Oscar Romero of the Americas