by Joe Bollig
SHAWNEE — As people the world over celebrated the canonization of St. Oscar Romero of El Salvador on Oct. 14, parishioners at Good Shepherd Parish here honored the newly proclaimed saint by rededicating a chapel in his name.
After the 10 a.m. Mass, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann blessed the St. Oscar Romero Chapel. Formerly, it was the Archbishop Oscar Romero Chapel.
The chapel blessing was part of “Oscar Romero Week” at the church and Good Shepherd School, where numerous activities took place.
Good Shepherd Parish developed a special love for St. Oscar through a sister parish relationship that began in 1987 with an El Salvador parish, now named El Buen Pastor.
“We have a long history and collaboration of our parishes together,” said pastor Father Kent O’Connor. “We have people go down there every year. And we have a love of Oscar Romero. He’s been talked a lot about in our parish. He’s a hero of social justice for the poor and helping those in need.”
Good Shepherd did not send a delegation to El Salvador for the canonization, but parishioner Teresa Aley did travel to the capital of San Salvador to join the tens of thousands of Salvadorans who participated in national observances of the event.
In San Salvador, the canonization vigil began at 5 p.m. on Oct. 13 with a procession from the Salvador del Mundo monument to the Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador. Although the distance was only a mile and a half, it took two hours to travel the distance.
“There was an outdoor Mass,” said Aley, who is coordinator of Good Shepherd’s El Salvador ministry. “It was packed, the whole plaza area in front of the cathedral.
“The people were joyful, so happy. They were carrying posters and banners. They were singing. There was such a joyful spirit there.”
Many of the signs proclaimed: “Your people made you a saint.”
At 2 a.m., five big screens came on to show the canonization liturgy in Rome. The entire plaza fell silent.
“When Pope Francis would read things about St. Romero or things he said, everyone would clap and cheer,” said Aley. “They were so happy to have their saint canonized. As I watched the people, I was so impressed because of the words they spoke [from St. Oscar], ‘If I die, I will rise in my people.’
“It was a powerful time to walk with the Salvadoran people and feel their joy.”