Monday, December 12, 2016

A visit to the Canonization Office


#BlessedRomero #Beatification
In popular Christmas mythology, Santa Claus and his elves assemble the toys they will deliver on Christmas Eve at a workshop in the North Pole—far from the prying eyes of millions of children yearning to know what they will get for Christmas. In the Catholic Church, the causes of the saints are worked in unseen bureaus such as the Canonization Office of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, located in the archdiocesan headquarters. The files of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s canonization and Fr. Rutilio Grande’s beatification cause are found there.
The office has served various functions over the years. In the 1990s, officials such as the late Maria Julia Hernandez copied documents from the archbishop's archives to gather the journals, homilies and writings of the martyr archbishop to be analyzed in the process and sent to the Vatican at the end of the diocesan phase. Later, its representatives, like Guillermo Gomez and more recently Rodrigo Belismelis, received daily testimonies of people who reported that Romero had performed a miracle for them. Today, Rebeca Salas, who supervises the office, directs the production of third-degree relics of the now Blessed, coordinates publicity and administers the Facebook page and Twitter account of the office. The constant presence in all time periods has been Msgr. Rafael Urrutia, vice postulator of the Romero and Grande causes.
For an avid follower of the ups and downs of these causes, the office is more than the operating center established under the auspices of canon law, and is more like the secret machinery of the Wizard of Oz. When I visited the Canonization Office last week on a brief visit to El Salvador, Fr. Edwin Henriquez, the second vice postulator, assured me that “our treasures are here”—as he pointed me to the original records of both causes, stored in the shelves of the office. But far from being a dusty archive of inert documents, the place was bustling with activity.
In one of the interior offices of the workspace, several young people worked feverishly to fill a request of 5,000 stamps with the relic of Blessed Romero needed in Metropolitan Cathedral the following day. One of them, a ten-year-old volunteer, picked up the specks of fabric that constitute the relic with a pair of tweezers and attached them to the prints. Another young man placed an adhesive plastic cap on them, while other volunteers attached a sticker with the archdiocesan shield on the back. All of them formed an assembly line that was not interrupted by my visit, its interviews with volunteers and workers, or the fact that we stopped to pose for pictures with everyone.
When Bl. Romero and the Servant of God Rutilio Grande are advanced towards the altars, it will undoubtedly be a miracle of God. But also the arduous work of the Office of Canonizations.
Fr. Henriquez, Msgr. Urrutia, Paulita Pike and I.

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