Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Romero for kids


I returned to my office today from a planning meeting for a one day workshop about the life and witness of archbishop Oscar Romero.   As I was thinking about it, I remembered this charming blog post by my friend Olivia Amadon.  Some of Romero's lessons are best expressed by children:

he lives in our hearts 
Señorita Reina holds up a black and white drawing of a bespectacled man with a red bishop's hat. "Who knows who this is?"

"MONSENOR ROMEEEEROOO!!!" cries a chorus of children.

"And who is Monseñor Romero?" she asks the crowd at Monday's morning assembly.

One by one the braver kids run up to the microphone, excited to be able to talk (or scream) into it for a moment.

"HE WAS A PROPHET!!"
"...hee.. he... um... they killed him because he told the truth!"
"A PRIEST!"
"he walked with the poor!"
"he was a man who liked to visit the communities!!"
"...they shot him with a bullet in his heart..."

"And where does Monseñor Romero live now? In our..."

"HEARTS!!"

In public schools in El Salvador, Archbishop Oscar Romero's story is quite silenced. The schools here do not actually teach about El Salvador's recent history - because it's still too current, still too relevant to the national reality. And that's no coincidence. Those who have been in power have intentionally silenced that story, but in small ways the people keep it alive. Like at Centro Hogar. We are not a public school, so we pretty much do what we want. This entire week in celebration of the 31st anniversary of his assassination on March 24th, each morning a different class section did their own artistic interpretation of his story. In the classrooms all week, the teachers taught about who he was, how he spoke for the poor, and why he died. And how he stills lives. (In our...? Hearts!!)

Materno II, the kids from about 2 and and half to three and a half years, put on a little play. Now, keep in mind, these are LITTLE kids, most of whom can barely speak audibly. But even three-year-olds can understand what it means to share with the poor, to bring clothes and medicine and food to poor people, to tell the truth.

Edrian Ely, one of my favorites (don't tell the others) does not speak. He has a physical disability that has delayed his speech development, but he is an extremely bright, loving, energetic little boy. He was Romero in Materno II's play on Wednesday morning. He carried a giant basket about as big as him around the stage, filled with clothes and toy food and medicine. He went to the communities. And as Señorita Lucy narrated ("Monseñor Romero loved to visit the communities... he loved to share the word of God... and he always listened to what the poor told him...), Ely acted out her words, visiting the groups of kids on the stage, giving them what he carried in his basket, sitting on the floor and flipping through a Bible.

And what was the word of God that Romero preached, according to Materno II?

We should always share what we have, even if we only have a little, and we should always tell the truth, even when we are scared.

It's really that simple. Thanks, babies. Thanks, Romero.

Olivia spent time in El Salvador as a volunteer with the Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM). I am on the Board of VMM and am passionate about its work in Central America. VMM recruits, trains, and equips volunteers who wish to dedicate two or more years of their lives in service to poor communities in Central America and elsewhere throughout the world. VMM places them with small nonprofit organizations as teachers, nurses, engineers, youth workers, etc. If you value and appreciate this blog, please show your appreciation by making a donation to VMM. You can find many ways to donate at this link. If you would like information about becoming a volunteer with VMM, please send me an email.

Tim

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