Sister Amy Cavender and Sister Patricia Ann Thompson held a conversation Wednesday at Saint Mary's about their May 2015 trip to San Salvador, El Salvador, to attend the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero. The two nuns shared stories and insights from their experience, along with pictures they took during the trip.
Cavender said prior to the trip she had "never dreamed of going to the beatification."
She said Catholic Relief Services — a nonprofit organization whose mission according to their website is to "assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas" — made the trip possible by providing them with hospitality and accommodations.
Cavender and Thompson both spoke about Romero’s life and provided background on his various works and accomplishments that contributed to the decision of the Church to beatify him. Romero was appointment archbishop of San Salvador in 1977 because he was seen as a “safe choice,” Cavender said.
During the 1970s, violence and murder began to escalate in San Salvador, and following his appointment, Romero “became more confrontational … very outspoken about social justice,” Cavender said.
Romero was shot to death while saying Mass in 1980 for being an outspoken advocate against the injustice happening among the poor and repressed in El Salvador at the time, Cavender said, and is seen as a martyr for his faith.
Concerning the beatification ceremony itself, Cavender said “people came from all over the world, [the ceremony] was very well done, very well organized.”
More than 100,000 people gathered to witness his beatification, she said. She and Thompson said volunteers turned out in great numbers to help distribute water to the attendees.
“I am impressed by [the promise] of El Salvador’s future,” Cavender said of the volunteer work she observed.
Cavender and Thompson said over the course of their travels, they also visited the Chapel of the Divine Providence hospital where Romero died, and his home, which was turned into a museum in honor of him. Although Romero was a diocesan priest, he resided with Jesuit priests for many years, they said.
“He took the notion of living in simplicity very seriously,” Cavender said.
She said she and Thompson visited the Monseñor Romero Center at Central American University — which is run by the Jesuit priests — and the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Savior in San Salvador, where Romero is buried.
“[Romero] remains a source of inspiration and empowerment for many people,” Cavender said at the end of the talk.