On Thursday, we attended to an Oscar Romero musical organized by the Salvadorian embassy in Rome.
There were a many artists and dancers, among them, Ines de Viaud, a Salvadorian singer who has composed many of her songs inspired in the signing of the peace process in El Salvador, and the work of Monsignor Oscar Romero as well.
Another artist was Luis Alfredo Diaz a Spanish musician who uses Oscar Romero homilies and adds music to them. He’s released a CD with his work hoping to inspire and educate new generation of Salvadorians, growing up abroad, to learn about their martyr and Saint, Oscar Romero.
There was a group of Italian-Latin American girls, including one from Korea, seven girls singin in Italian and Spanish.
The common message was in line with Monsignor Romero reflections, respect for life, social justice, reconciliation and hope for a peaceful relation among human beings. Monsignor Oscar Romero legacy is spreading a cross nations, cultures, and continents.
-Text and pictures by @alva43jhon-
In these days leading up to Sunday’s canonization, there is a growing excitement among us and among the fellow pilgrims we are meeting. As others have mentioned, we have been encountering other pilgrims as we make our way around Rome. On Thursday morning, while the eight of us were visiting the Colosseum, we ran into a group of pilgrims from El Salvador that we had met the day before and exchanged a new round of hugs. It was like we were old friends already, familiar faces in this city that is new to all of us.
Friday morning we went to the church where Oscar Romero was first ordained a priest. We were there to pick up kits that the Archdiocese of El Salvador has put together for all the pilgrims, apparently close to 7000, here for the canonization of Monsignor Romero. There was a group of welcoming and organized Salvadorans there, unpacking boxes of blue bags and filling them with blue hats, scarves, flags, booklets, and prayer cards. We spent time speaking with a man who works for the Archdiocesan radio and he was passionate and focused about the significance of this moment. And he was excited and encouraged to hear that we are here from Canada. There is a sense among the Salvadoran pilgrims we have met that they appreciate knowing of us and the fact that their own beloved Monsignor has been an inspiration to a community as far away as Toronto! Perhaps it is confirmation of something they have long known and believed – that Romero’s life and death have something important to say to the wider world.
On Thursday evening we attended a musical recital hosted by the Salvadoran embassies to the Vatican and to Italy. Groups representing a variety of Latin American communities in Rome shared music, dance and song in a spirit of offering to and celebration of the life of Oscar Romero that has brought us all here. A musician from Uruguay, after recognizing that many younger Salvadorans were not familiar with Archbishop Romero’s life and legacy, began to compose contemporary songs using words from Romero’s homilies. On Wednesday he sang, “Que no haya resentimientos en la corazon,” – There are no resentments in the heart. He invited those in the audience who had been impacted by violence and war to stand and for the rest of us to stand and surround them with love and support as we sang those words together. Archbishop Romero spoke words of profound pastoral challenge and invitation to the people of El Salvador as they lived through violence and persecution, and those words continue to challenge and invite us today in the many layered ways they speak to us as a group of pilgrims.
The evening recital ended with Panamanian dancers and a Honduran youth dance group getting us all on our feet for a final dance. Our time here is one part party, one part prayer.
– Sonya Wu-Winter-
We have had another day of meeting many new friends from El Salvador–thousands of pilgrims are expected to come from all over the world for the canonization. Among those thousands, we have found some amazing personal connections. Above is a picture of Diana with a women from San Salvador whose brother attends the same church as Diana in Toronto (Our Lady of Guadalupe). We met her and her pilgrim group at a bus station–they saw our Romero House buttons and we saw their #RomeroEnRoma blue hats. It is amazing how immediate connections are made when we realize we are all here to celebration Monsignor Oscar Romero.
Below will continue the reflections from our pilgrims. We gather each night, no matter how late, to reflect on the ways in which we have been touched by what we have encountered in the day. We might be tired after long days of walking, navigating the Rome transit system and meeting other pilgrims, but we are have so much to share with one another about how we have seen the Spirit moving. We look forward to sharing some of those thoughts with you over the next week.
A reflection from Romero pilgrim Winnie Muchuba:
Life is precious, life is the gift from God, life is something that everyone has in common.
When we feel weak with different problems for which we cannot find solutions, our body reminds us that we still have to fight. Our breathing reminds us that there is someone spiritually keeping us going, and this person is our Creator. God gave us the most important thing.
No one has the right to take someone else’s life. Life is sacred.
My thought today is for all the world, but especially in places where atrocities continue to destroy lives. After hearing the Pope’s message about life at the Vatican, I am sending my prayers today all over the world where leaders are not protecting the life of their citizens.
The Republic Democratic of Congo where I am from is ravaged by the massacre of the Innocent. May God who cares for the Innocents plant seeds of peace to save the lives of people all over the world. Without peace there is no progress, without peace there is no development,without peace people lose hope and deviates from good ways. We need the human heart, we implore our God to give back human heart where people who are full of hate are dividing the World. I believe in the power of God. Don’t give up people of God, God is the same today, tomorrow and forever.
Peace be with you.
Wednesday, October 10th 2018, we started our pilgrimage journey. We attended to the Papal General Audience at Saint Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis’ message was that “the root of all evils in the world starts with an attempt against life.”
At the end, we got to meet several groups of pilgrims from El Salvador.
People who have been in direct contact with the life and work of Monsignor Oscar Romero.
People were amazed that his message has reached as far as Canada through Romero House.
We exchanged buttons, ideas, cell numbers, messages, and our plans to attend the Canonization Ceremony this coming October 14th.
Our Canadian pilgrims from Romero House have bracelets showing the Canadian Flag. as well as some rosaries that are ready to be blessed during the canonization of Monsignor Oscar Romero this coming October 14th.
Former RH residents Luisa A. and Sara G. were the ones who made the bracelets.
We feel the call to come to this pilgrimage to spread the message of Monsignor Oscar Romero as he put it “Each one of you has to be God’s microphone. Each one of you has to be a messenger, a prophet.”
Sonya Wu Winter – former Romero House Director
Maria José Marcano – former resident at Romero House from Venezuela in 2016
Alexander Duarte – former resident at Romero House from Venezuela in 2016
Diana Ballesteros former resident in 2012 from Colombia
Winnie Muchuba former resident at Romero House from DR Congo
Jenn McIntyre current Romero House Director from Canada
Lauretta Santarossa, from Canada, has been a friend of Romero House since its beginnings
Jhon Alvarez former resident in 2002 from Colombia
Reflection from Diana Ballesteros, Romero Pilgrim:
“Today following an audience with Pope Francis in St. Peters Square, we shared important and significant time with others pilgrims. We met an enthusiastic group from San Miguel, a small town in El Salvador. They shared tokens that they had brought with them, including a poster of Oscar Romero and a button from the 100 year celebration of his birth. With them was Carmensita, a nice lady who was baptized by Monsignor Romero so long ago. She was proud that knew him very well–she told us that when he became the Archbishop, it was very difficult to start calling him “Monsignor,” as they had always known him affectionately as “Father Romero.” I felt very fortunate to meet her, as I felt the spirit of Romero was near.
After meeting these other pilgrims, we were feeling very inspired and full of reasons to find the real spiritual purpose to be here. More that being witnesses to an act of the church, we are meeting and witnessing his own people who already knew him as a saint and they maintain hope, faith and love in him. Furthermore, we are part of a moment that recognizes that “his own people” are not only in El Salvador, but all over the world. “
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.
Romero House was named after Oscar Romero as he exemplifies the hope for faith and justice, and the inclusivity that our community embodies.
Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the most well – known archbishop of Latin America, was assassinated in 1980 because of his work with the marginalized and speaking out against injustice, poverty and torture. His role as spiritual leader, calling for peace and fair civil rights, was at the center of deep divisions within the Church.
On October 14th, Romero will be made a Catholic saint. To celebrate this, there is a whole month’s worth of events in Toronto and amongst the world to mark this occasion.
All events are open to the public and all are welcome.
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/749172962091567/
Eight members of Romero House community will join the pilgrims heading up to Rome. Become part of this remarkable journey, by follow it on our social media:
Romero House invites you to join us for our eleventh fundraising party and amazing Silent Auction at Lula Lounge!
Come dance the night away to the music of Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble and enjoy appetizers and a cash bar, all in benefit of Romero House, the refugees who live here, and the work that we do!
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/162746671195442/
Link to buy tickets: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/romero-house/events/lulalounge/