Greetings to all of you from Rome.
We are here.
And it is a miracle that all eight us of (Winnie, Jenn, Sonya, Jhon, Maria Jose, Lauretta, Diana and Alexander) are here together. We had an unexpected hiccup at the beginning of our journey as it appeared that there were discrepancies on various Italian websites regarding the need for people traveling on refugee travel documents (four of our pilgrims) to have Schengen visas. We had been certain they weren’t necessary, but that was put into serious question when we tried to check-in last night. With the blessing of some courageous angels who work for the airline in Toronto and the strong faith of the pilgrims, we all boarded a plane not knowing if some of us would be turned back in Rome. We give thanks to Monsignor Oscar Romero and all who offered their prayers that we were all able to enter the country without problem. As our friend Thomas reminded us by text message last night, it wouldn’t be a pilgrimage if it wasn’t full of challenges.
We look forward to ten days of celebrating the life of Monsignor Oscar Romero with pilgrims from all over the world, and with all of you. Check back every day, as this blog will be updated with stories and reflections from the Romero pilgrims. We will leave you this evening with some thoughts from some of us about what it means to be a pilgrim.
From Maria Jose:
From yesterday, October 8, eight people linked with Romero House have begun the pilgrimage to the Vatican on the occasion of the Canonization of Monsignor Óscar Arnulfo Romero.
This pilgrimage is an experience full of important religious and personal connotations for each one of us who travel in representation of the great family of Romero House, because it also is a very special commitment with the strengthening of our faith and the commitment that we must all assume with God to be better people and an instrument of peace.
To be a pilgrim of Romero House and go to Rome for the Canonization of Monsignor Romero is to be the voice of refugees who have been helped by this organization. We are the representation of the people who have faith and hope in life, in the freedom, and a better future for our countries and our children.
The canonization of Monsignor Romero is an act of justice. The Church recognizes in front of the world that the people and priests that have been helping the poor, struggling for freedom and life are saints, they are angels of God. The Catholic Church tells people that God is with us always.
Monsignor Romero´s homilies were very beautiful and important, but most special for me is when he implored and ordered the government to “Stop repression”. Currently, those words have a special meaning for my country, Venezuela, and other countries in the world. Once Monsignor Romero is being canonized these words will remind the world, and will tell all dictators to: “Stop, stop the repression”
Additionally, I would like to share this words: “We know that every effort to improve society, above all when society is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God blesses; that God wants; that God demands of us. — Archbishop Oscar Romero.
The reason I am drawing a connection between my personal lived experience and my intention to participate in this pilgrimage is because I recognize the reality of being persecuted and killed for being dedicated to justice and truth. This is the same current that brought Monseñor Oscar Romero to be assassinated. He was an extremely significant Martyr for Latin America. Thank God that was not my family destiny and fortunately allowed me to reach this country.
When Romero House opened its doors to me and my family, I clearly recognized the principal and instruction that our Lord Jesus Christ left for us, his children: Love your neighbour as you would love yourself. That was just what I received, and what I continue to receive, from Romero House. This is a commandment that is difficult to realize in these times, where violence, altruism and greed are so often the daily bread.