Prayer: Oscar Romero spoke out against poverty, injustice, corruption, state torture and murder in his own land, and was shot as he offered the Eucharist, uniting his sacrifice with Christ’s. Lord, as we receive your Body at the altar, send us out to live as your Body in the world, and by the power of your Spirit and the prayers of your martyrs make us faithful witnesses for you.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Pray for us Oscar Romero, Pray for us all saints of God.
Info: Oscar Romero (August 15 1917 – March 24 1980) was a Roman Catholic priest in El Salvador, and became bishop and archbishop of San Salvador. He worked hard especially for the poor and for those who had been caught up in the civil war.
He is often spoken about in the same lines as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr due to his belief in non-violence.
He was killed during a Eucharist service shortly after the sermon, and his death provoked an international outcry for human rights reform in El Salvador.
- he has 6 brothers and sisters
- his father trained Oscar in carpentry
- he started learning about the religious life when he was 13 and started studying theology when he was 20.
- 250,000 people went to his funeral
- He told people ‘Aspire not to have more, but to be more’
In El Salvador, there is a tradition of producing colourful crucifixes. The bright decorations have a figure of Jesus at the centre but also include images of the local community set in a Salvadoran landscape. They have become known as Romero crosses in England and Wales and we have one in the crypt of the Abbey.
Design your own cross. Include drawings of the cathedral, your school or other areas of the community. Think about the background landscape, colours that reflect your surroundings and which aspects of your community’s life to include.
This could be said by a leader or a young person/ divided between the young people.
For an activity on a large piece of paper, or lining paper, this prayer could be illustrated by the young people following a discussion about Romero’s life and death.
We give thanks for the life of
Blessed Oscar Romero
who spread your message
and struggled against injustice in El Salvador.
he was a shepherd, a pastor, a brother;
Like you, he was taken from us;
Like you, he remains in our hearts.
Spirit of hope, work within us,
just as you worked
in Blessed Oscar Romero,
so that we too may work for justice
and spread the Good News,
by living out the Gospel,
in solidarity with those living in poverty.
Oscar Romero is known for his work among the poor and for speaking out for social justice. This activity helps the group think about how our society views poverty and to see where the voices are speaking up for the poor.
Spilt into two groups.
The first group is given a selection of newspapers and ask them to cut out articles and pictures that relate to poverty and the economy
The second group is given printouts of some bible passages (see below). Ask them to think of a word that describes the actions or attitude of each person who experiences poverty and highlight the descriptive words used.
Reflect with the group and ask if there is ask if there is anything they notice about the newspaper articles or biblical stories. Why are the descriptive words we use about people who experience poverty so important? How might changing the language we use influence our attitudes and behaviour?
Invite both groups to stick their articles/passages onto three sheets of flipchart paper, one showing positive stories/words about people experiencing poverty, one of negative stories/words.
Jesus looked at his disciples and said: God will bless you people who are poor, His
kingdom belongs to you!
Then Boaz asked the man in charge of the harvest workers, “Who is that young woman?”
The man answered, “She is the one who came back from Moab with Naomi. She asked
if she could pick up grain left by the harvest workers, and she has been working all
morning without a moment’s rest.”
1 Kings 17: 10–15
When Elijah came near the town gate of Zerephath, he saw a widow gathering sticks
for a fire. “Would you please bring me a cup of water?” he asked. As she left to get it, he asked, “Would you also please bring me a piece of bread?” The widow answered, “In the name of the living Lord your God, I swear that I don’t have any bread. All I have is a handful of flour and a little olive oil. I’m on my way home now with these few sticks to cook what I have for my son and me. After that, we will starve to death.” Elijah said, “Everything will be fine. Do what you said. Go home and prepare something for yourself and your son. But first, please make a small piece of bread and bring it to me. The Lord God of Israel has promised that your jar of flour won’t run out and your bottle of oil won’t dry up before he sends rain for the crops.” The widow went home and did exactly what Elijah had told her. She and Elijah and her family had enough food for a long time.
Mark 1: 16–18
As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother
Andrew. They were fishermen and were casting their nets into the lake. Jesus said to
them, “Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish.” At once the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him.
Mark 7: 25–30
A woman whose daughter had an evil spirit in her heard where Jesus was. And straight
away she came and knelt down at his feet. The woman was Greek and had been born
in the part of Syria known as Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to force the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said, “The children must first be fed! It isn’t right to take away their food and feed it to the dogs.” The woman replied, “Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs that children drop from the table.” Jesus answered, “That’s true! You may go now. The demon has left your daughter.”
Jesus told the people another story: What will a woman do if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them? Won’t she light a lamp, sweep the floor, and look carefully until she finds it? Then she will call in her friends and neighbours and say, “Let’s celebrate! I’ve found the coin I lost.”
In a town there was once a judge who didn’t fear God or care about people. In that same town there was a widow who kept going to the judge and saying, “Make sure that I get fair treatment in court.” For a while the judge refused to do anything. Finally, he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about people, I will help this widow because she keeps on bothering me
Of Oscar Romero, Pope Francis said ‘His ministry was distinguished by a particular attention to the most poor and marginalized.’ He was a voice for the voiceless poor. In our world, not everyone has fair chances or the ability to speak up and this world can seem very unfair, with lives lived out more by chance.
The game Snakes and Ladders can be used to illustrate this. Allow the group to play a game or two (depending on time – you may need to stop them half way through a game). When all have played, ask the group these following questions.
- Does it feel fair?
- What does this game have to say about social mobility and the barriers people face in trying to work their way out of poverty?
- What does this game say to us about the connections between poverty and injustice?
Some materials adapted from http://www.church-poverty.org.uk