Queens Catholics to Attend Oscar Romero’s Canonization

Tags: Currents, El Salvador, Martyr, Oscar Romero, Queens, NY, Saints

By Tim Harfmann

Father Carlos Quijano has pictures of Oscar Romero around his office at Blessed Sacrament Church in Jackson Heights, Queens. They’re visible signs of a devotion to the future saint.

Growing up in El Salvador, the priest remembered Oscar Romero as humble person who could be powerful during Mass.

“It was something in his face. His way to talk was the inspiration of God or the Holy Spirit,” said Father Carlos.

The priest is leading a group from the Brooklyn diocese to Rome to attend the October 14th ceremony.

Sofia Contreras is going because she, too, is devoted. She said, “He was a martyr for the Church!”

Oscar Romero was the archbishop of San Salvador and assassinated by a right-wing government death squad while celebrating Mass in 1980.

He was known for helping the poor and being outspoken against military oppression during the country’s bloody civil war, which took the lives of an estimated 75,000 people.

Father Carlos recalled when militants showed up at his family’s home and took his brother into custody as a political prisoner.

“It was a moment that changed our life forever as a family,” said Father Carlos, “because, for a month, my brother was totally — We never knew where he was.”

His mother had hope and prayed for her son’s return. One night, Oscar Romero appeared to her in a dream.

“My mother saw Archbishop Romero coming to her and told her, ‘don’t worry, your son will be fine, but you have to leave the country.”

Father Carlos and his mother fled El Salvador, but not before stopping at the archbishop’s grave to pray.

Now, decades later, Father Carlos and other Catholics from the Brooklyn diocese will watch Archbishop Romero get elevated to sainthood.