2012 Romero Days Commemorate Justice Education's 30th Anniversary

Contact:
Gwen O’Brien
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary’s College
(574) 284-4579

March 16, 2012 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame will commemorate the life of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero with the 2012 Romero Days, March 27-28 (Tuesday and Wednesday). Events will be held on both campuses and include a film screening, a workshop, and a lecture given by South African Bishop Kevin Dowling. Romero Days will honor the 30th anniversary of Saint Mary’s Justice Education Program and the 40th anniversary of the 1971 Bishops’ Synod on Justice, which called Catholics to build sustainable justice and peace through ecumenical and interfaith efforts.

"Commemorating Archbishop Romero’s life and legacy on our campus shines a light on the Church’s social teaching on social justice—that we are all called to care, to be compassionate, to be a voice for those who suffer and whose basic human needs are not being met. Archbishop Romero saw the need all around him, and worked bravely to change injustices in his society. He is an outstanding role model for all people of faith,” said Janice Pilarski, director of the Justice Education Program.

Archbishop Romero, an outspoken advocate for human rights, was assassinated by a right-wing death squad while presiding at Mass on March 24, 1980, in a hospital in San Salvador. He was controversial for his denunciations of U.S. military aid to El Salvador, his call for Salvadoran military personnel to disobey immoral orders, and his insistence that the Church be inseparable from the poor. The Catholic Church in El Salvador has officially recommended Archbishop Romero for canonization. He is widely venerated as a martyr in his native country, throughout Latin America, and in the United States.

There will be a free screening of the film, “Monseñor: the Last Journey of Oscar Romero,” which chronicles the last three years of Romero’s life, at 7 p.m. March 27 in the auditorium of the Hesburgh Center for International Studies on the campus of Notre Dame.  The screening will be preceded at 4:15 p.m. by a discussion of its use in teaching Catholic social doctrine. The discussion will be led by Margaret Pfeil, assistant professor of theology at Notre Dame, and Michael Amodei, executive director of adolescent catechesis for Ave Maria Press. Admission to the discussion is free, but requires registration by email.

Bishop Dowling, of Rustenberg, South Africa, will speak on “Archbishop Romero: An Icon for South Africa” at 7:30 p.m. March 28 in the Carroll Auditorium of Madeleva Hall at Saint Mary’s College (campus map). Bishop Dowling has served the Rustenburg diocese for 21 years. The diocese includes large, impoverished shack settlements in which nearly half of the women test positive for HIV, and it provides numerous services for people with AIDS, including clinics and hospices for the dying.

Bishop Dowling has praised the model of church leadership exemplified by Archbishop Romero. Such leadership, he has written, “instead of giving an impression of its power, privilege and prestige, should rather be experienced as a humble, searching ministry together with its people in order to discern the most appropriate or viable responses which can be made to complex ethical and moral questions.”

Romero Days is co-sponsored by the University of Notre Dame (Latin American/North American Church Concerns in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and the Center for Social Concerns) and Saint Mary’s College (Justice Education Program and Campus Ministry).

About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, women’s institution offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study. Saint Mary’s College has six nationally accredited academic programs: social work, art, music, teacher education, chemistry and nursing. Saint Mary’s College ranks among the top 100 “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” for 2012 published by U.S.News and World Report. Founded in 1844, Saint Mary’s is a pioneer in the education of women, and is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.