Salvadoran Archbishop Blessed Oscar Romero is pictured in a 1979 photo in San Salvador. He was shot dead March 24, 1980, as he celebrated Mass. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)
Salvadoran Archbishop Blessed Oscar Romero is pictured in a 1979 photo in San Salvador. He was shot dead March 24, 1980, as he celebrated Mass. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)

The 100th anniversary of Blessed Romero’s birth, Aug. 15, 2017, falls on the glorious Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Blessed Romero’s 1977 homily for the Feast of the Assumption, and more importantly, his steadfast work for justice on behalf on his beloved Salvadoran people, can shed light on this feast.

This feast honors the assumption of Mary’s body and soul into heaven. We are reminded of Mary’s importance in our faith, and also of the reality that we, too, will one day share a bodily resurrection – a truth we proclaim in the Creed. As this truth can be difficult to comprehend, Blessed Romero used the occasion of the Assumption to underscore a more tangible truth:  while we are destined for heaven we must strive to do God’s work on earth.

For those people who seek true happiness, there is a definitive Kingdom of Heaven, a life beyond our life, but this kingdom is obtained by working in this life and committing oneself to the fulfillment of God’s plan,” he said in that homily. Blessed Romero then praised Mary for her exemplary model of earthly service. 

Later in the homily, he spoke to Mary’s heavenly existence:“[F]rom this light in heaven, she [Mary] illuminates the dignity and the rights of the human person.”

The fact that we are destined for such glory underscores our dignity and rights in the here and now. In honor of Mary’s assumption we can renew our earthly efforts to safeguard our human dignity as God’s children. In this spirit, Blessed Romero’s 100th birthday serves to greater illuminate the importance of the Feast of the Assumption.

During his lifetime, Blessed Romero’s work for justice inspired such hope in his suffering people   that he became known as the “Voice of the Voiceless.” Martyred at the altar on March 24, 1980, Archbishop Romero was beatified on May 23, 2015.

At the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Parish in Washington, Blessed Romero will be well celebrated. During Masses on Aug.15th – at 7 a.m. (English) and 6:45 p.m. (bilingual) – Mass goers will hear about the Assumption and Blessed Romero’s devotion to Mary. After the 6:45 p.m. Mass, the congregations will be invited to share in birthday cake in honor of Romero. Parishioners are also encouraged to bring non-perishable food items or baby supplies (to Assumption Day Masses or on the Sunday prior, Aug. 13th) to stock the parish’s pantry for the needy.

Two Shrine of the Sacred Heart Parish missionary groups are observing the Romero Centennial in El Salvador.

La Juventud Franciscana (Franciscan Youth) left in mid-July with parochial vicar Capuchin Franciscan Father Kevin Thompson to attend a Romero symposium at the Jesuit University of Central America, visit a children’s hospital in San Salvador, and be guests of the parish’s rural Salvadoran sister parish, also named Sacred Heart.

A group of adult missionaries, Los Misioneros de San Francisco de Asís (Missionaries of St. Francis), will accompany the parish’s Salvadoran pastor, Capuchin Franciscan Father Moisés Villalta, and parochial vicar Capuchin Franciscan Father Urbano Vasquez to many of the same sites in August. They will celebrate Romero’s actual birthday in his hometown of Ciudad Barrios, San Miguel.

The public is invited to join the Shrine of the Sacred Heart on the Feast of the Assumption to celebrate Blessed Virgin Mary, Blessed Oscar Romero, and the dignity that we all possess and work as a Church to bring to the world. For more information, contact the Shrine of the Sacred Heart parish office at 202-234-8000.