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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Salvadoran Guest and Remembering Archbishop Romero

On the 27th anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero's martyrdom this past weekend, we were privileged to host Maria Silvia Guillen, a Salvadoran human rights attorney (more) , and Tara Carr-Lemke, director of SHARE's office in Washington DC, for a gathering of about 30 old and new friends from the Philadelphia area.

The evening was a great opportunity for networking with others who share a commitment to solidarity with the Salvadoran community. After sharing a meal, Maria Silvia offered reflections on Romero's enduring legacy and the continuing work for justice in El Salvador. She also told us about her busy schedule during this visit coordinated by the SHARE Foundation which included participation in the "Christian Peace Witness for Iraq" that took place in Washington last week, visits in congressional offices, meetings with Salvadoran community members in DC and New York, an appointment with Bob Edgar of the National Council of Churches, a meeting at the United Nations, and more. In Philadelphia, Maria Silvia spoke with several groups -- Latino/a law students at Villanova, students at the Lutheran Seminary, and a regional gathering of Franciscan sisters.

On Sunday morning at Central Baptist Church, three members of the upcoming youth delegation to El Salvador led the congregation in a litany of remembrance for Romero and a call to commitment to work for peace in our world. We also honored the memory of Rufina Amaya and celebrated her persistence in speaking truth and seeking justice.

Oscar Romero: A litany of remembrance and a call to commitment
(based on resources from the SHARE Foundation)

Leader: Oscar Romero looked into the faces of suffering people living in pervasive, extreme poverty in El Salvador and said, “In these faces we ought to recognize the suffering features of Christ, who questions us and challenges us.”

ALL: For the times we have closed our eyes to the faces of those who are suffering, for the times we refused to recognize the presence of the divine there calling to us, for our resistance to the challenges and questions they pose to us, we ask for mercy.

Leader: Romero has reminded us that we have “not always given full importance to what was really going on in the world.”

ALL: For the times that we have not given full importance to the conditions of our world, to injustice, to violence and its causes, for the times we have been distracted, too busy, indifferent, or uncaring, we ask for mercy.

Leader: Romero calls us to work for peace and justice. As he said, “Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity.”

ALL: For the times we prefer war to peace, for our failure to identify with the innocent victims on all sides of conflict, for the fear that keeps us from fully living peaceful lives in the face of the world’s many conflicts, we ask the mercy of our God.

Leader: Today, as in Archbishop Romero’s time, we are challenged to bear witness to peace in our world, ending the violence of wars that destroy lives, degrade the human person, and fuel hatred.

ALL: Loving Creator, look with mercy upon your people, for we are human and overwhelmed by the many difficult challenges we now face in our world. Help us to become instruments of peace in our world, to confront political violence and its causes, and to root out injustice and hatred. AMEN.