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Honouring a martyr

Dearly loved: People carry large portraits of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero during a rally in late March in San Salvador to pay tribute to the late archbishop, who was assassinated 35 years ago. Photo: CNS

Dearly loved: People carry large portraits of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero during a rally in late March in San Salvador to pay tribute to the late archbishop, who was assassinated 35 years ago. Photo: CNS

By Paul Dobbyn

BRISBANE’S Salvadoran community has joined an “unprecedented” worldwide celebration to mark the impending beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Special Masses in St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane, and Our Lady of Fatima Church, Acacia Ridge, a forum on Archbishop Romero’s life and the screening of the film The Last Journey of Oscar Romero are among events being held in the lead-up to the murdered archbishop’s beatification in San Salvador on May 23.

Mass in St Stephen’s Cathedral will be held at 5.15 pm on Friday, May 22, and at Our Lady of Fatima Church at 11.30am on Sunday, May 24.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge will be the main celebrant at the cathedral Mass accompanied by Australian Scalabrinian provincial Fr Delmar Silva, Brisbane’s Latin American community chaplain Fr Ignacio Gutierrez and several other priests.

The beatification ceremony, which moves Archbishop Romero a step closer to sainthood, will be held in Plaza Divino Salvador del Mundo.

Prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes Cardinal Angelo Amato will celebrate the Mass.

One of the organisers of the Brisbane events Rafael Pacheco said the event in San Salvador would be “fabulous and unprecedented” in his home country and was expected to attract at least 250,000 people.

“Five cardinals have already confirmed they will be attending,” he said.

“From around the world, there will also be 15 archbishops, 60 bishops and 1200 priests.”

Oscar Romero was El Salvador’s archbishop during the bloody and tension-filled time leading up to his country’s 1979-92 civil war.

Shot dead while celebrating Mass in 1980, the archbishop has long been considered a saint by many in Latin America, but the official Vatican process of sainthood had lingered for years.

Pope Francis signed a decree on February 3 this year, recognising the Salvadoran archbishop’s death as martyrdom for the faith, clearing the way for his beatification.

Mr Pacheco said the Salvadoran community wanted to involve not only people from their own country living in Brisbane but also those from Latin America and Australia.

“We are truly over the moon about this event finally happening after so much prayer,” he said.

“After many years of suffering for the people of El Salvador, this will be a time of much joy.

“It will be like a balm for our spirit – a beautiful blessing.”

For more information on the celebrations call (07) 3800 1584 or 0433 981 788.

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