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Lectures honor archbishop

Tori Roeck | Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s will mark the 32nd anniversary of the assassination of Oscar Romero this week with Romero Days, a series of lectures and events honoring the Salvadorian archbishop’s advocacy for the poor.  

Fr. Bob Pelton of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies said he hopes Romero Days will inspire students to carry on Romero’s legacy.

“I would hope that [Romero’s] example would help others to follow the example with their own attitudes, through the types of service they do and through relating their studies to a larger, stronger social commitment,” Pelton said.

As Archbishop of San Salvador, Romero stood up for the poor and marginalized in his home country of El Salvador and was assassinated while saying Mass in 1980, Pelton said. He was also nominated for sainthood.

“Archbishop Romero was extraordinarily devoted to the peasants of his country,” Pelton said. “He gave his life out of love for them and for our Lord.”

Pelton said Romero Days begins today at 4:15 p.m. in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies with a workshop on teaching students about Romero’s social justice. The event will feature professor of theology Margaret Pfeil and educational specialist Michael Amodei.

The workshop will precede a 7 p.m. screening of the film “Monseñor: The Last Journey of Óscar Romero,” a documentary which Pelton said follows the last three years of Romero’s life.

Pelton said the Kellogg Institute chose to sponsor the workshop because it is important for educators to pass on Romero’s legacy to the next generation.

“We want to understand better the social teaching that was embodied both in the instructions and in the life of the example of Romero himself,” he said.

Kevin Dowling, bishop of Rustenburg, South Africa, will preside over a commemorative Mass on Wednesday in the Church of Loretto at Saint Mary’s at 4 p.m. Dowling will lecture on Romero’s life in Carroll Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

Pelton said Bishop Dowling is a strong supporter of Romero’s teachings on social justice and Church teaching, proving Romero’s influence is ubiquitous.

“The example of Archbishop Romero has spread throughout the world,” Pelton said. “Here we have all the way in South Africa a bishop who follows that example in his service to the very poor.”

Dowling’s lecture commemorates not only the 32nd anniversary of Romero’s death, but also a longstanding tradition of social justice, Pelton said.

“The annual Romero Address [will honor] 40 years of justice education on the part of the Catholic Church and also the 30 years of the Justice Education Center at St. Mary’s College,” he said.

Pelton said students should emulate Romero’s drive and fortitude to advance causes of social justice.

“It’s important for us to be willing to see the real needs of our sisters and brothers and to take the effective steps to bring about an improvement of that situation,” he said.