JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
Exactly four months to the canonization of Blessed Oscar A. Romero, bishop and martyr, alongside 5 other blesseds, in Rome, on October 14, 2018, this is the second of several notes that I post about going to Rome for the canonizations—or to be part of the event though some other type of participation.
In the first installment, I wrote about the general possibilities for participating in the canonization: going to Rome to witness the ceremony in person or participating from El Salvador, for the many Salvadorans who cannot make the trip. Now I want to touch on two aspects that were implied in the foregoing but not explicitly addressed: (1) participation by the Salvadoran diaspora in the pilgrimage to Rome; and (2) the possibility of making a pilgrimage to the land of the saint, as an alternative, especially for Americans not of Salvadoran descent.
The diaspora on the pilgrim’s route
At the beginning of this week, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the postulator of the Romero canonization cause, recorded a video inviting Salvadorans to attend the canonization October 14ceremony in Rome, during which Romero will become the first Salvadoran to be raised to the altars as “Saint Romero of the World.” Unfortunately, the vast majority of Salvadorans have no way to heed this call, however much they would like to, for want of financial means. However, many Salvadorans residing in the United States have sufficient income to pay for the trip, and they should be taken into account in efforts to attract a Salvadoran presence to the ceremony.
According to a study on the Salvadoran diaspora, the population of migrants from El Salvador and their families in the United States numbers 2.1 million, and its labor force participation tops the general population (75% for Salvadorans in the United States vs. 64% for the American general population). Doubtless, it is a population with many challenges, including many without legal documents in many cases, but it represents an important group to take into account the characteristics of the white house’s occupants—in stark contrast to the brutal characterizations by the current occupant of the White House, who would paint them as criminals and the progenies of a “s---hole country.”
In reality, a community that started as a band of war refugees has realized important achievements: 14% of them have salaries that place them in the top 25% of US household incomes (more than $90,000 per year); 4% with salaries in the top 10% (more than $120,000). With impressive concentrations in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, among other cities, it would be possible to conduct targeted campaigns, to urge them to take part in the historic process and challenge negative stereotypes regarding the people of Saint Romero.
The emphasis could be a return to, and reassertion of, their identity, from their exodus.
A pilgrimage to the cradle of the Saint
On another note, we must also recognize that many Americans admire Archbishop Romero and, even though they may want to go to the canonization, perhaps a trip to Rome is out of reach. For them, we can propose the idea of making a pilgrimage to El Salvador, which has been a Romero pilgrimage destination years running.
One option is to go to El Salvador and live the canonization with the Salvadoran people. But, the idea of witnessing the precise moment of the canonization in El Salvador may not be very attractive, since it will be 2 am in El Salvador when it happens and, perhaps, if we are going to watch the ceremony on a television screen (as the Salvadorans will do in the same square where Romero was beatified), we might prefer to do so from the comfort of our own home.
That is why there is another alternative, which is to go in August, not for the canonization, but for the pilgrimage to Ciudad Barrios, where Romero was born in 1917, for the second pilgrimage walk “to the cradle of the saint”. Scheduled for August, beginning on August 2 and ending on August 4, this event will initiate preparatory activities for the canonization among Salvadorans. It is already being projected as the Salvadoran version of “the Way of Compostella” (the great pilgrimage route in Spain). Apart from seeing the small town where Romero was born, it also offers the possibility of seeing the east of the country, including panoramas dominated by two volcanoes (San Vicente and San Miguel), and places associated with other Salvadoran martyrs.
The emphasis would be to accompany the Salvadoran people, visiting the sacred sites of Romero’s country.
This conversation continues! Online and on social media, let’s use the hashtags #VamosTodos and #AllRoadsLeadToRomero to continue talking about these topics.