October 2019

October Call to Action!

Romero Center Ministries has a call to action for you:
 
You are called to be a saint!
(That’s a heavy one.)
 
What does this mean for you?
 
You are called to grow.
You are called to evolve.
You are called to be aware.
You are called to live your best life.
You are called to work for the best for others.
You are called to embrace your own struggle.
You are called to serve others without judgment.
You are called to participate in something bigger than yourself.
You are called to love selflessly, no matter the cost.
You are called to look deep within yourself.
You are called to seek the truth.
You are called to work for justice.
You are called to be a voice for the voiceless.
You are called to be God’s microphone.
 
You are called to be who God dreams you to be.
 
Start small. Do something.  Anything!
 
Look at Greta!  She started small, as one voice. 
Now millions march and speak up for our Mother Earth.
Saint Greta…pray for us!
 
You, too!  You are called to be a saint. 
So, start there.  Yes, you!  Pray for us!
 
Inspired by his witness to radical Gospel living,
we ask for the intercession of namesake:
St. Oscar Romero . . . pray for us!
 
 
 
 

 

 

September 2019

A New Mural at Romero Center Ministries

 

"Show Me The Way" mural by Andrew Del Rossi, ThD

"Show Me The Way" mural by Andrew Del Rossi, ThD "Show Me The Way" mural by Andrew Del Rossi, ThD

“Show Me The Way”
 
Romero Center Ministries is proud to showcase new art in our building!  Staff member Andrew Del Rossi painted the mural entitled “Show Me The Way” this spring.  After a busy summer hosting groups from across the United States, we would like to share his art in the center with all of our friends, family, and supporters. 
 
The mural is heavily influenced by the traditional style of Salvadoran art which comes from the northern town of La Palma.  This technique involves bright colors and simple designs—usually animals such as birds, rabbits, and turtles, or common objects like flowers, trees, and houses.  The traditional Salvadoran style is attributed to Fernando Llort (1949-2018).  After traveling and studying in the United States and Europe, Llort returned to his native El Salvador and began the artist workshop “La Semilla de Dios,” a program designed to teach people art so they might use their skills to earn a living.
 
On one level, the sun, tree, and bird evoke the imagery of the Trinity.  The mountains exhibit a serenity in being totally exposed by the brilliance of the sun’s light.  The tree serves as the central point of the image, as an axis mundi where the painting comes together.  The wave-like curves present in the three, trinitarian images at the top of the painting are inspired by the Fibonacci Spiral and highlight the creative power of the Divine at work in the universe.  It is amplified and doubly-present in the action of the Spirit. 
 
Saint Oscar Romero is ascending and divinized by the Spirit, through his encounter with the people of El Salvador.  The “all-seeing eye,” above Romero’s hands and in front of his heart, is indicative of his Christ-like awareness of the imperative to manifest the Divine in the World, especially where there is poverty and suffering.
 
Though the saint is central to the painting’s influence, he is off to the side, perhaps in accordance with the epigraph of his words at the bottom of the painting:
“I can’t.  You must.  I’m Yours.  Show me the way.”
 
Inspired by Christ and Oscar Romero, may we all rise to a higher awareness of the work that God calls us to!
 
 
 
About the Artist:
Andrew traveled to El Salvador in 2012 and has been an official part of the Romero Center Ministries team since 2017.  Prior to working at the center, he had served as an educator, administrator, minister, and palliative care consultant.  Andrew holds a doctoral degree in theology from La Salle University and presents nationally on the integration of spirituality, psychology, and science.  Aside from his mural at RCM, Andrew’s current art projects are mixed-mediums of paint, markers, sidewalk chalk, and stickers with his two-year-old daughter.

 

August 2019

One of the most rewarding parts of my ministry here at Romero Center Ministries is being involved in the raising of awareness.  The phrase “raising awareness” is a term I have used countless times over, but it was not until this past summer that I really began to conceptualize what it meant.
 
This epiphany about my work in Camden, however, came from a larger and cosmic perspective.  I am a proud a proud science nerd, especially when it comes to space and evolution.  So, I naturally enjoy CosmosPlanet Earth, and similar series and books that delve into the mysteries of creation.  It is inspiring and fills me with great hope to see the masterful and intentional patterns which the universe expresses.  Despite all of the chaos, struggles, and challenges which are present, evolution presses on toward manifesting greater creativity, union, love, and consciousness.
 
Sure, it is inspiring to hear a student share during an Urban Challenge reflection how they experienced a change of heart or shift in perspective during their time serving in Camden.  But now, I understood this “shift” or “change” as an increase in consciousness—a literal raising of awareness
 
This was the work of evolution unfolding right in front of me.  There were no celestial collisions or supernovas to witness, but my perception of my work took on a new dimension in which I experienced the energy of evolution’s creative power, pulsing in the hearts of the many people who participate in our program in Camden.
 
Our place within the cosmic mystery is one of critical importance.  We, as human beings, have the capacity to be self-aware.  Indeed, the world today beckons us to participate consciously.  The systems of the world which perpetuate injustice and ignore the dignity of life are, in fact, working against our evolution as a people, as a planet, and as pilgrims seeking God in the World.
 
The injustices within the news today have existed for time immemorial; it is not until now that there has been enough of a consciousness in the world of such issues, however, for there to be this level of coverage and concern. 
 
Therefore, I challenge you to see the world today not as a place of discord, chaos, and concern.  Perhaps, we as human people can learn, instead, to see the world as being within a time of great awareness. 
 
French Jesuit priest, scientist, and mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin writes, “The world, this palpable world, which we were wont to treat with the boredom and disrespect with which we habitually regard places with no sacred association for us, is in truth a holy place.”
 
To quote Dr. Ian Malcom, “The history of evolution is that life escapes all barriers. Life breaks free. Life expands to new territories. Painfully, perhaps even dangerously. But life finds a way.”
 
Therefore, let us each take up this work, consciously, to grow in awareness of God’s presence within ourselves, others, and our world so that we can take bold and creative action to promote unity and form just systems which reverence the dignity of life.
 
Let us be open and aware to the internal, personal challenges we face as human people, so that we might see ourselves as being created in the image of the Divine.  No matter the struggle, may we be aware that God is present within every step of the journey and shares in our hope to grow, to heal, to be transformed, and to evolve into a greater expression of love and awareness within the universe.
 
-Andrew Del Rossi, Th.D.

October 2018

A New Saint!

On Sunday, October 14, 2018 at 3:30am EST, Blessed Oscar Romero officially became “Saint Oscar Romero!”  That weekend at Romero Center Ministries, student groups from Xaverian High School (Brooklyn, NY) and Misericordia University (Dallas, PA) were participating in the Urban Challenge service retreat.  As the students and their chaperones joined the local community of St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral parish for Mass on Sunday, the congregation was treated to the insights and reflections of our own ministry staff member, Richard Nalen.  In a reflection after Communion, Richard recalled the importance of the life of Oscar Romero, and how his witness of living the Gospel in El Salvador almost 40 years ago has inspired our program in Camden, NJ, as guests from across the United States continue to join in our programming.  Richard made beautiful connections between the life of Oscar Romero and Fr. Jamie’s homily, which called us to reflect on the many small movements of God in our lives.  

Romero Reflections

Over the last two weeks, Romero Center Ministries was proud to welcome guests from around the area to listen to reflections on the life and impact of St. Oscar Romero.  These “Romero Reflections” were held on two separate occasions, one in Spanish and the other in English.  The audiences gathered in prayer before talks from Father Rene Canales and Deacon Omar Aguilar, both from Romero’s home country of El Salvador.  Deacon Omar recounted coming to the United States as a young man, only to hear news from friends at home about the revitalized faith that Romero was breathing into the country and the people of El Salvador.  Father Rene shared his recollections of growing up in El Salvador, and the purely electric way in which Salvadoran’s would burst with joy and hope as they would listen to Romero’s homilies broadcast on the radio.  Participatory crowds gathered before the two speakers, extending the events with thoughtful questions and a warm sense of community.

 

Sainthood: A Call to Authenticity, Participation, & Transformation

Oscar Romero’s canonization provides an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a saint.  Saints live exceptional lives of holiness.  The call to holiness—that is, our call to sainthood—is a call to authenticity. It is a call to participation.  Above all, the call to sainthood is a call to transformation.

A saint ultimately follows God’s call to serve the world in a way that is unique to him or her.  St. Oscar Romero is most well-known for being a voice who affirmed the dignity of all people in response to the injustice and violence in his home country of El Salvador during the Cold War. 

As Romero’s story demonstrates, heeding God’s call can be challenging.  At the naïve age of thirteen, a young Oscar entered the seminary for the first time.  However, an illness in his family would call him back home.  It was not until fourteen years later that Romero would be ordained a priest.  Then, it was twenty-some more years before Romero would begin to express the transformed life that God had been calling him to participate in, all along. 

Often, Oscar Romero is portrayed as experiencing a conversion when he learned of the death of his dear friend and fellow priest, Rutilio Grande, SJ, at the hands of a government death squad.  However, as an article from the National Catholic Reporter pointed out earlier this month, Romero’s conversion of heart and mind first came as the result of time spent with those who were suffering under the repressive tension caused between the Salvadoran government and the guerilla resistance.  Thus, Romero’s “conversion experience” was perhaps not as sudden as Saul on the way to Damascus, but slowly unfolding over the course of his life.

Conversion is a life-long experience.  However, some individuals certainly have “AHA!” moments from which their lives take on a new trajectory.  Yet, for those of us who are not carried away by sudden gusts of the Spirit, St. Oscar Romero stands as an example of hope.  Romero continually discerned God’s efforts to connect with him and lead him to a fuller life.  Whether it was joining the seminary at a young age, returning home for the needs of his family, or then re-entering religious life, Romero was open to journey along the difficult paths on which God’s call might direct him.  As a rural, parish priest, Romero’s worldview was rearranged as he lived among the oppressed agrarian workers and heard their stories of struggle.

When Romero was Archbishop of San Salvador, he risked losing the perks that his role might entitle—a safe distance from conflict and violence, administrative privilege, and an overall comfortable lifestyle—to follow the will of God.  Romero rose as “God’s microphone” to speak for those who suffered the violence which resulted from unjust systems and the undignified treatment of human beings.  Oscar Romero would pay the ultimate price, losing his life from an assassin’s bullet.  For this, we acclaim Romero as a martyr of immense faith and a champion of social justice.

Yet, Romero’s decision to participate in society in this way was not only for the people and the country of El Salvador.  Romero was motivated by an even more inclusive and universal spirit.  He acted on behalf of a larger and global consciousness.  He knew that the suffering and violence which he witnessed in El Salvador were present throughout the world.  He was also aware that the same compassion which welled-up within him was also amassing in the hearts of people around the planet. 

“Love,” according to Romero, is “the force that will overcome the world.”  Love had overcome Oscar Romero through a lifetime of seeking God.  He trusted God to direct him to where he could live the Gospel in the most authentic way, truest to his experience as a human person.  He was aware that, while incredibly powerful, this love also took time to build within him.  His awareness of God’s love grew to a point where he could consciously express that love through his life and mission.  It took time, but he learned to listen and he learned to trust.  As a result, Romero’s witness has called countless others to take up the cause of being a voice for the voiceless. 

We need to learn how to listen to the voices of our brothers and sisters in-need in our own communities and families, indeed.  However, it seems most necessary to first listen to the voice within—the quiet voice of God who calls us to live in a way that is transformed by radical love.  Thus, let us also celebrate St. Oscar for his patient trust that God was leading his life in a way that would empower him to lift up the lives of others. 

 

Divine Fire, empower us to speak up and to act on the needs of our world;
ever-mindful of our brothers and sisters without a voice.
May the steadfastness of your Flame remind us to patiently trust 
as we brave the road to authenticity, participation, and transformation.  
May your Love and your Light well-up in and illuminate our being 
and overcome the darkness of isolation and injustice.
Inspire us to create a future marked by awareness and expression 
of the radical love and global unity that make us all one.

 

St. Oscar Romero . . . pray for us!

 

– Andrew Del Rossi, Th.D.

Saint Oscar Romero Presentations

To honor the canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero this October, Romero Center Ministries is excited to offer talks and presentations on Romero’s life and message.  We are happy to come to your school, university, or parish to share how the legacy of Oscar Romero lives on and can inspire us to take up the challenge of the Gospel in the modern world.  Through St. Oscar’s witness, we will explore how Christ’s call to “love our neighbor” has global implications.  Please contact us for more information or to schedule a speaker.

To learn more, you can find our contact information here