Thursday, April 16, 2015

Romero beatification update #13

Fr. Luis Ayala, Msgr. Jesús Delgado and Fr. Simeón Reyes.  El Diario de Hoy photo.

Salvadoran Church officials provided an update on planning for the beatification of Archbishop Óscar A. Romero, during a press conference on Wednesday April 15, 2015 designed to introduce information services for attendees, which also provided new details about the planning for the event, which will take place in San Salvador next May 23rd.
Event planners provided the most precise estimate of the proportions of the event, predicting that at least 260,000 will attend, including five cardinals, 15 archbishops, 60 bishops (including a bishop from Equatorial Guinea, according to Fr. Ernesto Ayala) and two thousand priests.  There are 2,600 volunteers already inscribed to help with the event.  Around 1,200 volunteers would address matters of “protocol, hosting services and support of the whole people of God” while another 1,400 are assigned to the area around ​​the plaza and to accompany Communion. 

The five cardinals include Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who will preside.  Also attending so far are Óscar Rodríguez of Honduras, José Luis Lacunza of Panama, and two unnamed Americans, one of whom may be Roger Mahony who presided over the commemorations of the 20th anniversary of Romero’s death in San Salvador in the year 2000.
Also in attendance will be Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Commission for the Family and postulator of Romero’s canonization cause.  The information about clergy attendance is based on actual RSPVs.  It was not clear how the officials had calculated the crowd estimates. 

It is also expected that a number of heads of state will attend, but church officials explained that the Salvadoran government is handling that.  On Saturday, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa independently confirmed his intention to attend the ceremony.  Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras have also confirmed their attendance, according to Fr. Ayala.
Organizers plan to issue credentials to 350 journalists.  As previously disclosed, I will travel to San Salvador and will blog my impressions of the events.
The beatification ceremony itself will begin at 10:00 a.m. (as previously reported here).  However, the Saturday beatification ceremony will be preceded by a youth vigil in front of the San Salvador Cathedral on Friday night, and a procession to the beatification site.  The Cathedral is about 2 miles (3.5 km) from where the beatification will take place.  A major thoroughfare connects the two sites. 

A huge portion of San Salvador some thirty blocks long east to west, and ten blocks north to south, will be closed off to through traffic from 3 a.m. on Saturday morning to allow pedestrians and arriving delegations to find their way around on foot.  Police and the military will secure the pedestrian zone.  One of the avenues closed will be fully reserved for parking vehicles.  Religious authorities are coordinating with civil authorities to establish four central gathering points and to ensure that all will be well ordered on the day of beatification, including a security detail consisting of police and army personnel in adequate numbers so that there is order and tranquility. Veterans of war currently occupying the plaza in a protest over benefits are threatening to impede its use for the ceremony.  

Forty giant screens will televise the event throughout the city, spaced about 400 meters (1300 feet) apart.  A priest will stand with altar servers near the screens to distribute communion at the appointed time.  Children, elderly and the sick who can not reach the outdoor locale where the beatification will take place will be housed in the Magico Gonzalez football stadium in the same area. It will be equipped with display screens and altars so that attendees can participate in the rites.
There will be no tickets or registration necessary for lay attendees.  However, clergy who plan to attend have to register with the Church.  The organizers announced a new website, where clergy can register and everyone else can find information about the events.  At press time, the website is up in Spanish, but it will also be available in English and Italian.  The new website will complete the media package which includes plans to televise the beatification, and various social media accounts previously reported here.
The organizers also launched a slick “media campaign” around the event, together with a slogan, “Romero Mártir por Amor” (“Romero Martyr for Love”), a logo and related motifs including a promotional video.  There will be billboards and a jingle for additional messaging.

According to information posted online, the choir that will sing in the ceremony has started rehearsals. “There are 125 people who make up the chorus, which is a four-part choir,” the report said. “The preparation requires a series of rehearsals every week at the Seminary of San José de la Montaña. One of the songs that will be heard on the day of the ceremony is Poema a Monseñor Romero by Francisco Andrés Escobar.”

Another press conference is scheduled next week.  Super Martyrio will continue to monitor developments and provide a Friday update regarding the ongoing beatification plans.
Read my last update here.
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