On the night of March 24, 1980, Msgr. Ricardo Urioste entered the Divine Providence Hospital Chapel in San Salvador, and stood before the altar where Archbishop Romero had been assassinated earlier that evening and, after receiving an update from the nuns that run the hospice, he led an impromptu prayer of the mourners at the chapel. The whole scene is captured in this remarkable video (in Spanish):
Msgr. Urioste, who had served as Archbishop Romero's vicar general, fought back tears to compose the following prayer (presented as the answer to a reporter's question) as mourners spontaneously gathered around him (Super Martyrio translation):
Well, I think all the people of El Salvador are in mourning. I mean, all the good people, because there are people who are not good, part of our Salvadoran family who is not so, unfortunately.
And I think our first thought is a thought of giving thanks to the Lord for having given us an archbishop of such great worth. For letting us have him for three years. For his having been so profoundly Christian, so profoundly a priest, such a lover of justice and peace. And that's the reason for his murder—having loved righteousness and wished for peace.
So I repeat that all the good people of El Salvador are in mourning. Some are not, some are rejoicing. That is a dark grace. That is the greatest sin that has been committed in this country.
With him, we think of so many Salvadorans who have been killed, who are being killed, and we think this magnicide of our archbishop who was so dear, who was so much admired, who was such a man of faith, who was such a man of prayer ... Something I wish to say at this juncture is this: no one prayed as he did, in this country. With what simplicity he prayed his Rosary! With what simplicity he knelt before the Blessed Sacrament! With what fervor he prayed his Breviary!
There was a man of prayer, there was a man beloved by all, whom we will not be able to replace. But the Church wants everyone to know this clearly: the Church does not depend upon one man. The Church will move forward. She knows what her mission is, because it is not the mission of a single man. It is the mission of all of us in the Church. And this Church led by her Pontiffs, driven above all by the Gospel, is, thus, directed, and it will always continue to concentrate on God, on man, and on that very same Church.
I would invite the whole country at this time ... This is the saddest death that has occurred in the country. All deaths are sad, all deaths are painful. I know there are many who stand with the Church at this time, because many have suffered martyrdom in their loved ones. Those who have suffered martyrdom in their loved ones know what the Church is now suffering. But we always remember the Gospel. The gates of hell shall not prevail against her.
I would conclude by inviting everyone to a prayer—a prayer for him, who, like all human beings, needs our prayers. We know he stands already before God, that he has appeared before Him and declared, “Mission accomplished, my Lord. Here I am. Like You on the Cross, here I am, too, after completing my mission as You asked me to do, and as You wanted.” I would like for everyone, then, to say a prayer—a prayer for him and a prayer for the country. A prayer for the just men of this country and a prayer for the wicked men of this country.Msgr. Ricardo Urioste was schooled at San José de la Montaña Seminary in San Salvador and at Comillas University in Spain. He felt called to the priesthood at age 22, and he studied canon law in Rome, where he was ordained. Early in his career, he was the pastor at St. Francis parish. Starting during Archbishop Romero's years, he served as the archdiocese's vicar general. Later, he was Pastor of the Christ the Redeemer Parish in upscale Colonia Escalón, where he worked to generate solidarity of the wealthy parishioners for the poor. After the 2001 earthquakes, he raised funds to rebuild 126 homes of the poorer residents. He set up clinics where the indigent can see a doctor for $3 and receive free medicine. He also set up a co-op to allow parishioners to buy discounted food, and a credit union that provides micro loans. In 2002, Msgr. Urioste received a doctorate, honoris causa, from Central American University. He retired from active ministry in 2010 at age 85. He continues to be president of Fundación Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero.
Msgr. Urioste’s 2007 reflection on Archbishop Romero.