Today the church remembers Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, 1980, and the Martyrs of El Salvador.Born in 1917 in San Salvador, Romero grew up in a nation in which 40 percent of the land was owned by just thirteen families. As a child, he spent much of his time in the church, and when he completed the three grades offered by his local school, it was the church which tutored him. In 1942, he was ordained priest. He was ordained bishop in 1970 and became Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. Just after his appointment as archbishop, one of Romero"s close friends was assassinated for his political activities. Rutillo Grande had been a progressive Jesuit priest who was outspoken against injustice. Later, Romero would say, “When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, ‘If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path." ” This murder seems to have radicalized Romero. In 1980, Romero was shot to death while celebrating Mass in a small hospital chapel. The day before, he had preached a sermon in which he demanded that Salvadoran soldiers stop participating in oppressive activities, based on Christian values. Romero"s funeral itself became a demonstration—a chance to speak out for justice—and some 250,000 people came. It was later called the largest demonstration in Salvadoran history. Fill us with courage, inspired by the witness of Óscar Romero, that we might take up our cross and follow Christ"s way and build up your kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
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Almighty God, you called your servant Oscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor, and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope: Grant that, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador, we may without fear or favor witness to your Word who abides, your Word who is Life, even Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be praise and glory now and for ever. Amen.