Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.
Oscar Romero (1917-1980) was a Salvadoran Archbishop and a martyr for his faith. He was born in Ciudad Barrios. By age 14, he had begun his seminary education. He went to school in El Salvador and Rome and was ordained by the Catholic Church in 1942. After further education, he served as a parish priest in Anamorós briefly and then in San Miguel, where he served for over 20 years. In 1970, he was appointed auxiliary bishop in San Salvador. This appointment came two years after the Conference of Latin American Bishops, which declared God’s preferential option for the poor and established Christian base communities in Latin America. This context would inform the rest of Romero’s priesthood.
We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs. We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed at night with nothing to eat, among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways.
Early in his career, Romero was a conservative bishop who was opposed to the liberation theology that was growing in popularity. In 1974, Romero was appointed to the parish of Santiago de María, a poor, rural parish that included his hometown. While working in there, he faced the poverty and oppression of the people of El Salvador. In 1977, Romero denounced fellow priest and friend Rutilio Grande’s assassination. He became increasingly critical of his own government’s actions because of his work in Santiago de María and his friend’s assassination. He used his sermons as well as his radio show to speak out against the human rights abuses in his home country. He advocated a nonviolent approach to ending the violence.
This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that affects far beyond our capabilities.
He became the Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. He continued to criticize the government’s human rights abuses and oppression. Romero specifically condemned the United States’ military support of the Salvadoran military. In 1980, he traveled to Europe and met with Pope John Paul II to discuss his concerns with his country’s government and military. Romero preached a sermon in March 1980 calling for soldiers in El Salvador to disobey their orders to shoot innocent civilians. The next day, March 24, 1980, he was assassinated in the middle of performing Mass.
His funeral attracted mourners from all over the world and was seen as a protest against his assassination. In 1998, a statue of Oscar Romero was unveiled at Westminster Abbey in the company of the great martyrs of the 20th century.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and do it very, very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own. – from “The Romero Prayer” by Bishop Ken Untener