Hundreds attend Romero thanksgiving Mass

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor in procession
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor (left) at St George's Cathedral Southwark on Saturday

Last Saturday, 15 August 2015, was the 98th anniversary of Blessed Oscar Romero's birth. Hundreds of people from across Britain gathered in St George’s Cathedral in Southwark for the National Mass of Thanksgiving celebrating the life, martyrdom and beatification of the Archbishop of San Salvador who, on 24 March 1980, was shot dead at the altar while saying Mass in the chapel of the hospital where he lived. 

The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor who was joined by fourteen other priests on the altar including three other bishops. The Cardinal wore the red chasuble brought back from the Beatification in San Salvador, which had been specially designed for that occasion.

During his homily, Bishop John Rawsthorne, who attended Romero's beatification, representing both the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and CAFOD, inspired and challenged us to keep alive the legacy of Blessed Oscar Romero. Here are some of the words he used:

'In Blessed Oscar Romero we see the hand of God, the work of God; a true disciple of Jesus Christ.’ 

'Romero's way was that of listening and listening and listening, and then praying and praying and praying about what was happening, and only then leading to action.’ 

'Romero is an inspirational figure of our time who points the way for us. Ours is still a world of civil war, of asylum seekers and refugees, of food banks in our own countries. 

'True followers of Oscar Romero must listen to that Word of God, and to the reality of our world, and not to be overwhelmed by it, but to let God speak to us, and then it is for us to speak, to act, knowing there will be consequences. But knowing we can pray: Blessed Oscar Romero, pray for us.'

At the end of Mass a candle made for the occasion was lit in the Romero Chapel in front of the huge painted Romero Cross, designed by Fernando Llort, which contains relics of Blessed Romero.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor cuts the cakeAfter Mass, the congregation gathered in the Amigo Hall next door to hear from Bishop John, Clare Dixon and Julian Filochowski of the Romero Trust who were all privileged to attend the beatification ceremony back in May. This was followed by a toast to Romero - and by Cardinal Cormac cutting a cake for Romero's birthday. 

There is now great hope and widespread expectation that the canonisation of Blessed Oscar Romero will be completed in time for the centenary of his birth in August 2017.