A reflection from Jenn McIntyre, Romero House Director and Pilgrim:
Our pilgrimage has come to a close–though in many ways it feels like it is just a beginning.
Over the past ten days, I have learned to believe in miracles. Our pilgrimage started with a miracle–that Winnie, Maria Jose, Alexander and Diana were able to travel with us and enter Italy with their travel documents. As an eternal realist, I was prepared for the worst. As one of the pilgrims said, I had a plan A, B, C and D. Every part of me thought that we would need to pull one of those plans out. But my traveling companions had faith, deep faith, that all would be okay. They prayed the whole night on the plane and through the airport–Winnie even tucked the prayer card of Oscar Romero into her travel document when she handed it to the immigration officer. And through the gates we passed, no questions asked.
We saw miracles, gifts, in the people people that we met over the course of the last week–people who were blessed and sent by their communities from all over El Salvador and the world to be present for this event. Prior to leaving Canada, we really planned so little of our pilgrimage. We had a sense that we shouldn’t plan too much, that we would meet the right people and be directed to the right places once we arrived. That is just what happened. On day one we met three inspiring young people from San Salvador who are part of a youth moment in the Catholic church–William, Marvin and Cecilia. And then we proceeded to meet them again and again during very significant moments. Out of the 10,000 pilgrims to Oscar Romero, we were brought together in an intimate way with just a few. And there were more than just those three. We also met a young woman named Carolina, a Salvadoran/Spanish family with a mischievous little girl names Violeta and our friend Eusebio Garcia who works with the Quaker Refugee Committee in Toronto. We kept running into the same people. It was really a feeling that we were being brought together by the spirit of Oscar Romero to share this experience in a significant way.
There were two more miracles from Saint Romero while we were here, these ones experienced by members of the Romero House community in Toronto. One was the positive decision in the refugee case of a family that has waited far too long to finish their hearing process. They have finally found the peace of knowing they can build a new life in Canada. The second was that the deportation of a young woman that was to take place tomorrow was stopped. Our pilgrim group prayed to Saint Romero for her all week, leaving prayers in churches all over Rome (see the above photo). Our pilgrimage candle, which was painted by a teenager who lives at Romero House, was blessed by Pope Francis at the audience on Monday. We left the candle in a church near the site of the canonization as an offering for this young woman. It was placed in front of a fresco of Jesus with the words “Trust in Christ” below. When I placed the candle on the altar, I did it with more hope than I knew I had–I was starting to believe that a miracle might be possible. And it was. When we heard the news last night that the deportation was stopped, our whole group hugged one another and cried. Though few of them had met the person involved, we all felt that she was with us on this journey. And we were all being held in the hands of God and of Saint Oscar Romero.
The faith of my fellow pilgrims has given me strength to believe in miracles. They are people who have overcome so much in their lives–who have known a suffering that I do not. And they have seen the hand of God at work in their lives and in the world. I am learning to trust in that, to believe in the “impossible” and to let go of the need for a plan A, B, C or D.
We would like to thank all of you for joining us on this journey. And we would like to thank you for your support, prayers and faith as we have sought to hear what Saint Oscar Romero is saying to our community. We look forward to continuing to share this experience with the whole Romero House community and to celebrating that the world is taking note of the life of our beloved Monsignor Oscar Romero.
Grace and peace to you all.