It’s the time of year, as I look outside my window, that everything is in bloom and it has the feel of the beginning of summer. That’s the way it was when I was a kid and we would go up to Sanbornville, NH on Memorial Day weekend, have a big cookout, jump in the pool, and have relay races. It seemed that summer in those days stretched out in a long series of hazy, bright days.
Some good news to report on the generosity of our parish. As you know we had a second collection a few weeks back for the earthquake in Nepal and our parish raised over $16,000 for relief efforts. Also, a few weekends back, I watched as people brought food donations to a truck that we had in the parking lot, all of it destined for a food pantry at Our Lady of the Rosary in Louisburg. From what I heard later, the truck was full and the amount our parish collected was double the amount we collected last November. Thank you to everyone who donated and everyone who helped to coordinate this effort. From my time at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, which as many of you know is an inner-city soup kitchen, I saw first-hand that many people in our country go hungry every day. Our parish is the body of Christ when we receive the body of Christ, say Amen to that (Amen means yes, let it be so), and then embody that in the world by acting/doing as Jesus in our modern, complex, and wounded world. I see that happening here at St. Francis in many ways.
The big news from the Vatican last week was that Oscar Romero, the martyred archbishop of El Salvador was beatified last Saturday. This is a step along the way to being named a saint. Romero was a prophetic voice during that country’s civil war. He spoke out strongly for the rights of peasants in the countryside who were organizing for their rights against landowners and who were being killed for that reason by government forces. He demanded justice and accountability from the government and eventually was marked for death. He was killed at the altar on March 24, 1980 by a government assassin. There is a very good movie called “Romero” which tells his story in a powerful way.
The story of Romero’s life is a story of conversion. He was initially thought to be a mild man who would ruffle no feathers. But as he saw what was happening around him in his country, he could not stay silent. Days before his death, in an interview with a reporter, he spoke these words: “You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. I hope they will realize that they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish.” What a beautiful vision of church! Romero’s story is worth reading and I encourage you to look for that movie or for books about his life.
Finally, we friars will have a visiting friar with us for ten weeks this summer. He will be doing a pastoral internship at Rex Hospital. His name is Edgardo Diaz and he arrived this past week, driving all the way from San Antonio, Texas. He is a friar in formation, which means he is in studies for theology. You’ll likely see him around. He’ll be the young one, so he’ll be easy to spot.
Blessings on your week!