Pope Francis canonizes Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero

Miranda Fitzpatrick, Guest writer

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Pope Francis recently canonized Pope Paul VI, Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero and five other people. The canonization took place in St. Peter’s Square in Rome before an audience of thousands. As a way to honor these canonizations, the Office of Campus Ministry hosted numerous events through the week. In particular, Campus Ministry chose to focus on the canonization of Oscar Romero.  

In 1991, Campus Ministry expanded its staff and had two office locations for the first time: the original offices in the lower Abbey Church, and an additional outreach office the “Romero Center” in the Cushing Student Center. The Campus Ministry space in the Cushing Center grew over the years but remained dedicated to Oscar Romero.  Today, in the Jean Student Center, one will see a painting of Oscar Romero. Artist Ashley Capachione`07 gave the painting to Campus Ministry to display.

On Wednesday, Oct. 17, the Campus Ministry Office hosted Dr. Patricia Sullivan, a professor from the Theology Department specializing in Systematics and further in Sainthood. She gave a brief informal presentation on the process of canonization, followed by the specifics of the story of Saint Oscar Romero’s process and his personal history.

Dr. Sullivan began by discussing the purpose of canonizing saints. She explained that it is not for the benefit of the saints; rather it is for the members of the Church. We choose to canonize saints so that they can serve us in three ways: as companions, as models, and as intercessors. The canonization process begins at the local, diocesan level and then proceeds to the Vatican. After rigorous examination of the life and death of the candidate, now called a “Servant of God,” members of the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and ultimately the Pope, discern whether the person is a martyr, heroically virtuous, or – a new category created by Pope Francis – one who gave one’s life for another.  In a successful case, the Servant of God becomes “Venerable.” Except in martyrdom cases, a miracle of intercession must then be affirmed before the Venerable is beatified, declared “Blessed.” A second miracle (the first for martyrs) must then happen by intercession through the blessed candidate in order for him or her to be canonized, named a “Saint.”

We continued the discussion about Saint Oscar Romero, who was killed in 1980. His canonization process began in the 1990s. It took Archbishop Romero nearly 40 years to be canonized. He was killed during a Mass after speaking out publicly against the government. Ultimately, Pope Francis decided that Romero died as a martyr, and was killed for hatred of the faith. At the canonization Mass on Sunday Pope Francis said in his homily, “Jesus is radical. He gives all and he asks all: he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart.”

On Tuesday night, the movie Romero was shown, followed by a discussion. Then on Wednesday evening, a vigil was held to remember the violence that is currently plaguing Central America, especially El Salvador and Nicaragua, the homeland of Adriana “Pepper” Fernandez, class of 2021. Pepper joined us for a brief prayer service and shared a few words on how the violence in her home has affected her family over the past several years.

The canonization of saints is an opportunity for the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate and honor individuals whose lives can be an example of holiness for all members of the Church.

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