Salvadoran Voices of Manitoba marked by Monsignor Romero

By Alejandra Salcedo – Winnipeg, Glen

Compatriots who left El Salvador because of the war and now lie in Manitoba, Glen, They tell how religious humanism influenced them in their personal lives.

"The voice of the voiceless" is one of the many expressions that led by example Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero in their fight against social injustice at the beginning of the civil war in El Salvador. Romero went to work for the poor, denounce social abuses and make calls for dialogue and reconciliation, as it implies homily 27 of January of 1980: "Given the appalling balance of blood and violence that leaves this week, I want to do on behalf of the gospel, a new appeal to all sectors of Salvadoran: leave the paths of violence and to seek solutions more forcefully dialogue, which they are always possible while men do not renounce their rationality and their willingness ".

Homilies marked the lives of thousands of Salvadorans, They are including compatriots who emigrated to Canada because of war, This was demonstrated by the investigation "Voices of Manitoba Salvadoreñas", sponsored by the Research Council of Social Sciences and Humanities of Canada and conducted by Dr. and Professor Alexander Freund, co- director of the Center for Oral History at the University of Winnipeg.

The collection of memories, Freund noticed how Salvadorans residing in Winnipeg admired the Archbishop of San Salvador and how, after his murder, "They no longer felt safe and they decided to leave their country".

Testimonies of faith and love of neighbor

José Serrano, He came to Canada more than 25 years, It was one of the compatriots who confessed how Romero's homilies influenced his thinking. He had avowed atheist, but when he saw the struggle waged by the archbishop, his vision changed because the Catholic leader was an "ethical ransom for life". further, he drew attention to his "courageous position" to face his fellow bishops who disagreed with his social thought. "From there you see a man of faith ... [that achieves] His strength as a human being in difficult conditions. And after that, [I] I still awaiting the ideas emanating from the Archbishop and was fascinated to see that -to some extent-, Yes religion is important in human life, especially when he did his analysis of what he called the practicality of the gospel ... and could bring ethical values, moral and humanistic ".

Another memories archived at the Center for Oral History at the University of Winnipeg is Laura García, who fled the war in the decade 80. For this Salvadoran, with religious experience was closer, she recalls, his family and others were assisted by Romero when they left their homes in the department of Cuscatlan, north of the capital, because the army was looking to kill. "We went to the Archbishop of San Salvador, by then he was already Monsignor Romero as archbishop, but he was not ... We went to Mejicanos, the parish of Father Manuel Barrera, we were there. We were the first refugees in the history of El Salvador… I remember the next day says Father: Monsignor'Ya is back, already it has a place for ustedes' ".

Laura could not hold back the tears when still counting: "We went to a large house with bathrooms and rooms, He had cabins and (Mgr) He warned nearby churches and brought us a lot of food, was too, packages were also people collected money and took us. They had some nuns ... I remember one day I said to one of them, - ¡Ay, Mother!, tell people no longer bring money, Why do we need both? And she told me: – No, my daughter, Archbishop just called, that they are already refugees from Cinquera and all parts of El Salvador, that the war has begun here and he will need all the help to keep people ".

Laura's memoirs do not end there, the good offices of religious also saved her and her sister continue to be tortured when they were abducted by security forces and taken to the basement of the National Guard (GN). "It'Entró a guard and told me: – I want the address of your home and want to know if there are people in the house of your parents. And I said,: Why?'I was afraid that they were killing. – 'Necesitamos clothes because tomorrow you're going out… I want to address, and you have someone to come out, why that one… (So with horrible words) that sonofabitch Monsignor Romero and called for here and know that you are here. – How did he know? – We do not know – He has divine contact with God, You know why. – And yet rezongas', he told me. `He has asked that we remove, in the name of God that we remove and we have to darlas'. That was how we left ", Laura has.

unforgettable day

The war was a fact. As the people looked favorably upon the words and actions of religious in the pursuit of justice, the military and the right saw him as a priest of revolutionary ideas that were in favor of communism and shut him found it easier to accept it.
the fateful 24 March 1980, shot in the left side you killed the Archbishop while officiating a mass in the chapel of Divine Providence Hospital. At that time, Eduardo Cortez, who immigrated to Winnipeg in the year 90, recalls the sad date, then he worked at the seminary San José de la Montaña where Archbishop Romero lived and where the offices of the Archbishopric were.

"Don Guayo", as I said the religious, He was responsible for answering the phone and receive visitors; and that day was he who received the unexpected message.
"It was 6:25 pm, they called the Archbishopric but as they found it occupied, so, They called the seminar. A religious of hospitalito said: – Tell Monsignor Rivera who shot Archbishop Romero!-, I was the first I received the news ... the seminarians were at Mass and at the time was to give them. And radio was announcing the death of Monsignor Romero. Immediately he was shot, they collected there and as there was a journalist who himself began to record everything, he informed broadcasters that had happened ... The whole night was spent well, receiving calls both in the secretariat of the Archbishopric and the seminar. I regretfully had to say: ´Sí, It is true, the same stations are giving the news, but I can not give any information, Only it's true what has happened and hear the emisoras'. We were there only to answer that he had certainly passed that, but why, or who had done, nothing, We did not know ".

After 38 years, Monsignor Romero lives in the minds of those who knew Salvadorans and their courage to face a repressive political system and injustices. For his pastoral work and lead by example, In the name of God, the Catholic Church will proclaim holy. This process took several years stalled, but he was desentrampado by Pope Francisco, in 2013, and today is a reality. Many are already calling it "San Romero of America", a servant of God who never hesitate to say: "If they kill me rise again in the Salvadoran people".

Photos: Alejandra Salcedo.