Tuesday, January 03, 2012


It’s 2012. That means that in five years, we will be marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Oscar Arnulfo Romero—the Romero Centennial (or Centenary, as it were). Super Martyrio is asking all the Blog readers to think about what you would like to see the Romero Centennial celebrations to look like at an international scale, and to tell us what you will be doing to celebrate 100 years since Archbishop Romero’s birth on August 15, 2017, and throughout the centennial year.

To kick-start the conversation, here are some things that the Church, and institutions like Fundación Mons. Romero in El Salvador, the Archbishop Romero Trust in the UK, or some new Centennial Commission could consider organizing in 2017:

  • Rename the Salvadoran airport “Aeropuerto Internacional Mons. Oscar Arnulfo Romero.”
The Salvadoran American National Network launched this campaign a few years ago, but did not reach its goal by the intended date—March 24, 2010, the 30th anniversary of Romero’s assassination. Perhaps, with five years to do it, the goal may be attainable. On the other hand, maybe this is too easy and we need to think more outside the box …

  • Create a “ROMERO VIVE” sign on the San Salvador volcano (illustration).
A 'Hollywood sign'-style monument overlooking San Salvador would get a lot of bang for the buck, because it would be seen by all and not be prohibitively expensive. (For example, the Hollywood sign cost $21,000 in 1923, or about $280,000.00 in 2011 dollars.)  The sign could even be established on a temporary basis for the Romero Centennial, and taken for a test drive.  (Romero vive = Sp. for "Romero lives!")

  • A Pontifical Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.
If we want to imagine the greatest tribute from the Catholic world, this one would be hard to top. Maybe we can make idea be the opening gambit, and if we have to settle for a Mass at St. Peter’s by the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, attended (but not celebrated) by the Pope, or a festival at the Coliseum where the Pontiff makes an appearance, so be it.

  • A tribute song by U2.
Bono is a social activist whose humanitarian work has stood him in the good graces of Pope John Paul II, and he previously has sang about Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and about “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Perhaps a FaceBook page asking for their assistance would get their attention, and also create publicity/discussion in the run-up to the Centennial.

  • 100 balloons from participating churches/parishes.
Thinking about using economies of scale, it could be that a balloon release done in numerous countries would be a way to attract attention, since the balloons would drift across the skylines of major cities. It’s been done before, and there are regulations and guidelines to help you do it right, but it probably would not get much play unless it was done in large proportions.

These are some ideas that came to mind, but this is a project that numerous minds should contribute to, not just once, but over the next five years. This blog’s readers are requested to contribute their ideas in the comments section below, or by email, or any other way that you feel appropriate. Recent “centennials” for U.S. president Ronald Reagan, folk singer Woody Guthrie and even bluegrass musician Bill Monroe demonstrate that such celebrations provide opportunities to raise awareness and the profile of the subjects of the celebrations as well as demonstrate their existing cultural significance.
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