More than 60 volunteers gathered together in Cockfosters to explore and reflect on the life and thoughts of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, and to learn more about life in El Salvador today from two special guests.
Leading the morning was Julian Filochowski, Chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust and former Director of CAFOD.
Julian explored Archbishop Romero’s life nearly in reverse; speaking first of the dramatic moments of his martyrdom, and playing for those assembled a recording of the final Mass Romero celebrated. Julian then spoke about how Romero lived, working for peace and a preferential option for the poor in a country “pregnant” with civil war, and how both in his own time and the present day, he continues to live on through his thoughts and teachings.
During the afternoon session, everyone had the chance to learn more about CAFOD’s recent work in El Salvador directly from two of the members of CAFOD’s Connect2 community.
Fidel, a farmer who worked to set up a farmer’s cooperative in the community, and Erasmo, a CAFOD partner with the Jesuit Development Service (JDS) who has been working to setup fair trade shops and small business, told how, by working with CAFOD, they have been able to improve the lives of everyone in their community. Among the many projects implemented was a community seed bank which works to conserve native varieties of seed, and projects to help improve the diet of people in the community.
The two men spoke strongly about the connection they feel with CAFOD supporters in the UK, and how this solidarity keeps them going through hurricanes, earthquakes, and civil war.
“You are like stars. Although far away, you always seem so close.”
Though an ocean apart, the two communities shared a powerful moment of solidarity by praying together during Mass. Speaking in both Spanish and English and led by Fidel and Erasmo, the congregation prayed together with the following prayer written by the Puentecitos community:
Show me the pain of those who are most troubled
So that I can learn about the suffering of my people
Grant me the courage to serve others
Because in surrender there is eternal life
Illuminate us with song and celebration
And raise the Spirit amongst us
May the Spirit flower and grow
And give us strength to continue our struggle
May we remember those who have died from injustice
Because for us they have given their lives
Connect2 is a way to build worldwide solidarity and deepen our links in the UK with a community overseas. You can choose not only to connect to El Salvador, but also to Brazil, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Cambodia. More information on Connect2 is available on the CAFOD Connect2 Webpage. If you’d like to sign up for Connect2, contact CAFOD Westminster: 0208 449 6970 or firstname.lastname@example.org