JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
|Logo of this year's Romero pilgrimage to the town of his birth.|
Three months away from the event, the Salvadoran Church has announced the activities that will take place in El Salvador parallel to the canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero, which will take place in Rome. The “spiritual preparation” commences now; in August, the Church will organize the second large pilgrimage along the “Way of Romero” to visit his hometown for the 101st anniversary of his birth. In October, there will be activities to follow the canonization simultaneously, and in thanksgiving for it.
“Such an occasion cannot be relegated to an isolated event that passes after the celebration,” said San Salvador Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas, “because it is an ecclesial event that is bringing about a real renewal movement in the spirituality of the Catholic Church, which impels us to return to the sources of revelation and leads us to a commitment to transform the temporal realities by bringing them closer to the will of God.”
The Catholic hierarch announced several measures to promote the "spiritual preparation" of Salvadorans, among the standouts, “that on Mondays the Holy Mass be celebrated as a mandatory memorial to the martyr Oscar Arnulfo Romero (remembering the day of his martyrdom),” from this Monday, July 16, recurring every Monday until the canonization. Among other activities, the Archbishop called for pilgrimages, “community, family and personal Rosaries,” and Holy Hours of Romeroesque inspiration.
In August, the Church will celebrate Romero’s birthday ahead of time. His birthday is August 15, but the pilgrimage to Ciudad Barrios, his hometown, will take place between August 2 and 4, with the motto “Walking with St. Romero to Build Peace.” The pilgrimage will be accompanied by three symbols: The Cross, the image of Romero and the image of the Virgin Queen of Peace. This event precedes the patronal festival of San Salvador, which commemorates the Transfiguration of the Lord, and will launch the effort to prepare the way to canonization in every parish. The registration fee is $1 plus $5 for the pilgrim’s kit, available in each diocese of El Salvador.
The pilgrimage will begin with a send-off Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral and will be organized in its first stage by the Archdiocese of San Salvador. This first phase will culminate in San Rafael Cedros with a Mass presided over by Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez. The second phase will be organized by the dioceses of San Vicente and Zacatecoluca, and takes up from San Rafael Cedros to Chapeltique. The third and final phase will begin in Chapeltique and end with the celebration of a Mass of Thanksgiving in the Parish of Bl. Oscar Romero of Ciudad Barrios (formerly called San Pedro) on August 4.
In October, the Church is preparing to facilitate the participation of the faithful in a ceremony that will take place 6,000 miles away. “We know that the vast majority will not be able to go and that is why the Canonization will also be lived here,” said Archbishop Escobar. “We have established”, explained the hierarch, “that in all the temples of the country there will be vigils, not only in the parishes, but in all the temples, so that on the night of October 13, starting about 9 or 10 at night, people gather and begin activities such as singing, reflections, meditations, prayer, presentations ... there will have to be coffee and bread, there must be, God will provide.” The canonization will take place in Rome, at 2 am in El Salvador.
In addition to the vigils in the parishes, where the faithful will watch the ceremony on television, “there will also be a great concentration in the Divine Savior of the World Plaza, for those who want to participate in a larger communal event,” said the archbishop. Finally, the following Sunday, October 21, there will be a Mass of Thanksgiving in the Metropolitan Cathedral, concelebrated by all the Salvadoran bishops, and by other bishops of the region, “like, for example, the Archbishop of Panama and other bishops have told us they will be here.”
Finally, Archbishop Escobar revealed that the Salvadoran bishops have written a new letter inviting Pope Francis to visit El Salvador on his way to Panama for World Youth Day in January 2019, and that “the Holy Father is paying close attention to the letter that we sent him” and “is studying the possibility of coming.” Although he clarified, to avoid misunderstandings caused by enthusiasm, that “we have no date, not even any security [that it will happen], but we do have a lot of hope.”