Every day, when I drive past the entrance to the town where I live in El Salvador, I see a bust of Archbishop Romero. I see his portrait in every church. His face greets me from the wall of the local barber shop, at the local bakery, and on countless murals across this small country. It isn’t strange to see someone wearing his face on a t-shirt or a tote bag.
When I arrived in El Salvador to serve as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, I was touched that the Salvadoran people continued to remember Romero and commemorate his life in so many ways and in so many places. His dedication to lifting up the poor of El Salvador is certainly worth remembering.
Over the past three years, I have come to understand Romero’s steady presence differently. Before he was murdered Romero said “if they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people.” While I had thought the omnipresent images served to remind people who Romero was, I’ve come to see that the truth is that these images serve to remind the Salvadoran people who they themselves are. Romero, who struggled for peace and for the poor people of El Salvador, has been resurrected in the countless Salvadorans who continue to struggle for a dignified life for themselves and their fellow Salvadorans in one of the most violent countries in the world.
To be a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in El Salvador, is to support and accompany those who continue the mission of Romero, a mission that couldn’t be stopped by an assassin’s bullet. The Maryknoll Lay Missioners in El Salvador participate in many different types of ministries but what we have in common is that each day, in our work with the poor, we have the honor to walk beside the resurrected Romero.