Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 14, 2005
Group will keep Romeros's spirit alive
Edmonton visitors to build ties with Salvadorans
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
At Archbishop Oscar Romero High School they take their namesake seriously. So much so the school is sending a three-member delegation to El Salvador later this month to take part in the celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the assassination of the archbishop.
The group, led by Principal Mike Carby, is part of a 25-member delegation travelling to the Central American country March 28 for the week-long celebrations.
The group will also visit a community of former war refugees in the eastern part of the Central American country.
Carby said the main purpose of the journey is to learn more about the life of Romero and to establish contacts with ecclesial communities.
"Our hope is that we will be able to tour areas where Romero did his work. But from the perspective of our school we are hoping to establish a connection with people in that area," the principal said. The school delegates will take money and school supplies raised by the students for the impoverished Salvadorans.
Romero served as archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 until his death on March 24, 1980. During his tenure, he spoke against military oppression and called on the army to stop the killing. Right wing death squads killed him during Mass for his principled stance.
In 2003 Edmonton Catholic Schools decided to name a new school in the archbishop's honour. Romero School opened last September in the Callingwood area and its aim is to create a culture based on the archbishop's teaching.
"We named our school after Archbishop Romero because of his beliefs and his values and his selfless act in order to bring social justice to his people," Carby said. "And we've got a strong focus in our school in the area of social justice."
The 25-member delegation also includes about 17 local Salvadorans, half of them young people who want to learn more about their former homeland. The ecclesial base communities of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish is organizing the March 28 to April 11 journey. Romero School and the ecclesial base communities have had a close relationship since the school opened.
Delegates will pay 40 per cent of the cost of the journey. The remainder will be covered through donations from the Sisters of Providence and the ecclesial base communities, which have held several fundraising events.
The group will spend the first week in the capital city San Salvador participating in the many events surrounding the 25th anniversary of Romero's death.
At the centre of the celebration is a week-long international theological conference on Romero's work and legacy at El Salvador's National University.
Speakers include Father Gustavo Gutierrez, the father of liberation theology, and Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Madariaga of Honduras.
The delegation will also visit historical sites such as the chapel where Romero was killed as well as his tomb at the San Salvador cathedral.
The delegation will spend its second week connecting with the ecclesial base communities of the Lower Lempa River area in eastern El Salvador. Some 25,000 people, most of them former refugees from the civil war, live in the area.
"The idea is to strengthen the relationship between our ecclesial base communities here and in the Lower Lempa River area," Gonzalez said. "We support different projects there. The idea is we can develop further our partnership."
Communities in the Lower Lempa River are self-sustained communities with their own co-ops, health clinics, cultural centres, schools and government structures. They are working on a health care initiative called the Emergency Social Fund, which will be used to cover medical needs not covered by the Salvadoran government. The social fund will be funded through small monthly contributions from residents.
Carby said Oscar Romero School wants to establish permanent contacts with the people of Lower Lempa River and make a fundraiser for the region its Lenten project. "This year students have been bringing in school supplies so we are going to be taking some school supplies with us when we go."
On April 15, following the delegation's return, the school will hold its first annual Romero Day and delegates will share what they did and learned on their trip.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.