"Salvadorans will not ever understand Monsignor Romero"

By Carmen Rodriguez

San Salvador, The Savior

Some have met the bishop and his martyrdom by people who have dedicated their lives to proclaim the true story of this man to be named exemplary Santo, in October, in the Vatican.

While in El Salvador, I not imagine how loved and admired Monsignor Romero is out of the Pulgarcito. It was not until I came to United States, I began to realize the impact that has had the life of our martyred bishop in people of all religions and cultures, in many cities of the North American country.

Marcelo Perdomo
Marcelo Perdomo.

Life, work and martyrdom of San Romero speak for themselves for many. Others, instead, have known through people who have dedicated their lives to proclaim the true story of this man copy the 14 next October will be named holy martyr of El Salvador by the Catholic Church at the Vatican.

Marcelo Perdomo, It is one of these people. Since coming to Washington for more than 30 years, It has been given the task of sharing that beautiful and painful history, and their 72 years continues to do. It was more than 20 Sexton years Monsignor Romero in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in San Miguel and certainly knew him well.

"At the inn where we lived was a laundress lady. She told my mom that there was an opportunity for me at church. I had heard of him (Romero), people always talked about that masses with him were very nice… And yes they were! Their sermons, giving explanations of the gospel were awesome!”, Marcelo told me when I asked how he had become the sacristan of San Romero.

With its leisurely talk, Marcelo tells me that from the first day he met that commitment Romero felt he had the bishop with the people most in need. Although often it met with "rich people", He had his character and fulfilled, equally, with prayers that favors or requested his parishioners.

"You always characterized this commitment I had with people. When they came to look for catered to everyone equally and sometimes even stopped whatever he was doing to be with people. To me that was normal because he did all the time ", recalls Marcelo.

"He never talked about politics"

It is no secret that Monsignor Romero was killed by "getting into political issues", strongly criticizing his homilies to paramilitary groups during the civil war that killed suffered El Salvador hundreds of people, to defend the rights of the poorest and require political and military to respect life.

But nevertheless, Marcelo Romero tells me not speak of political parties, or politicians. "No I heard talking politics, and people say. Not like to talk politics ... he never talked politics, always he explained what the gospel says about the service to the most needy ".

according Marcelo, Monsignor Romero, always he said his moral duty as a servant of the church was to form a sense of responsibility in society and parishioners on how a true Christian should act against violations of human rights that occurred during the war.

Monsignor Romero
Monsignor Romero.
Photo: Gabriel Campos

"He lived life in holiness. For me, It was holy long before the same church holy name him. Always he told the truth, he was killed for telling the truth and it is sad that El Salvador is still divided, because he was not political. He was a person defending the poor. It is difficult to understand the life of Romero ... Salvadorans will never understand Monsignor Romero, And that's sad", I said after a pause and sigh wistfully.

Marcelo remembers that many people wealthy they used to reach the church ofrendar, They stopped visiting Romero slowly. "Some said they had changed when they heard in sermons. But for me, the problem is that I never understood and did not understand what he was trying to tell us in their messages ".

Exiled in Washington

Shortly before Monsignor Romero was named auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, Marcelo finished his service as sacristan in the church. Inspired by the same San Romero, He tried to enter the Major Seminary San José de la Montaña, but he had no value away from his family to go to Mexico to study and went on to other things for a living.

Far from the church, Marcelo Romero and lost contact with the news of his murder he fell like a bucket of cold water in March 1980. "I felt very bad, because I knew. I gave a great impression when I heard the news on the radio ".

After the murder of the bishop, things got worse in El Salvador. Marcelo's brother was killed, His body was found a few meters from his house, in a ditch, and the sacristan family which lived in the United States- He decided it was time to get them out of the country to protect them and keep them also murdered.

"One year after the assassination of Monsignor, My brother was killed. I remember we found his body about a block from the house and my other brother, I was already in the United States, He talked to my mom. At first, the trip was for my sister, but she had a problem and could not go. So, my mom and my brother asked me to be me, and so I came to Washington in 1981 ", says the man.

Installed in the US capital, Marcelo sought to join the Catholic Church and was well, which he ended in the parish of the Sacred Heart, where even many Salvadorans who came to the US territory fleeing the war in their country congregate. He spoke with the pastor, He told her he had been sexton of the murdered bishop in El Salvador and began to congregate and to participate in meetings of pastoral.

"They said it was guerrilla"

"Father Esteban began sending me to the meetings that were made with organizations supporting Salvadorans by the problem of war", I explained Marcelo. But felt uncomfortable because at those meetings some spoke of Salvadoran politics, of armed conflict, guerrilla and of course of the murdered bishop in El Salvador.

after a while, I asked Marcelo Esteban's father not to send more to these meetings because it did not like the comments I heard about Monsignor Romero.

"When I started listening to what they said Monsignor, I did not like it. I asked the father no longer send me because he did not like what I said about him (Romero)”.

What they said? -asked-.

And he answered me: "Many people do not tell the truth, Monsignor Romero did not know. They said it was guerrilla, he had been killed for defending the guerrillas and all those things made me feel sad, because he was the meanest man I ever met. With the, I learned humility and perseverance, and perhaps why I never told them anything ".

But nevertheless, Marcelo those comments prompted to preach the truth about Monsignor Romero.

"After I spoke with Father Esteban, I kept thinking how much could I tell the truth about Monsignor Romero, because many people do not know. I thought how I would convince some that he was not a guerrilla, but a good Christian, a man exemplary as any ", he told me.

Altar in honor of Romero each year

At first, Marcelo remember that with photos of Romero who had, He started talking about it and realized that some Americans knew much about the bishop and others had great interest in knowing the truth about this man copy.

"I realized that not only the Salvadoran people wanted to Monsignor Romero and they were impressed not only by listening about it. I felt I always remembered his words, His teachings and thought that people live among us as they remember and it was so I thought about doing something else special to remember and to honor his memory ", He tells me the man.

That idea was around his head for several days, until he thought of devoting his time before the 24 March to do something to remind pastor who both learned and to help people to know better.

"As I said to Father Esteban was not good everything Monsignor spoke at meetings to which I was sent, I wondered what I could do to tell the truth. Asked permission the father and photos I had or could meet with some people started making the altar each 24 March to honor the memory of this great man ", Marcelo continues narrándome.

Since then and over 30 years, Marcelo worries that in March a special altar is placed for Monsignor Romero. This year, He has worked in the organization of the decoration Romero will have a box in the main altar of the church in the famous Mont Pleasant, where much of the Salvadoran community living in the capital city lived.

Although Marcelo has worked hard causes in this special altar, will not be present when unveiled. "I never imagined all this. I never imagined that I would be alive to witness the recognition of the sanctity of Monsignor Romero and unless you would imagine it would be in the Vatican watching the Pope Appoints this humble man I met when I was 13 years, ... San Romero saint ... ", Marcelo tells me excited.

For the man who was sacristan of San Romero, It is able to be in Rome, with people in your church, the people I was able to share the true story of the bishop-martyr, It is the best gift you can receive in old age.

"For me it is a great joy, It is like going back to live with it, like being with him in this important moment ... It is a joy and feel more real the words of Simeon, and I can go in peace, after seeing saint named Monsignor Romero ", Marcelo told me before the end of our conversation.

Photos: Rhina Guidos and Gabriel Campos.