Out of the Archives: St. Oscar Romero (Hall)

On Sunday, October 14th, a celebrated figure of Le Moyne was canonized. St. Oscar Romero of El Salvador was granted sainthood by Pope Francis for his work in social justice and liberation theology. His mission was to help the people of El Salvador reclaim their human rights through charity, unity, and education. He was killed for his actions in 1980 by a death squad, sanctioned by the corrupt and violent Salvadoran government. Clad in his cassock and belt, he bled out on the floor of his home parish. St. Oscar is only one of the El Salvador martyrs, four Maryknoll nuns were killed a few months later and six Jesuits, their maid, and her daughter were killed in 1990 at the Jesuit University of El Salvador.


Le Moyne personally has close ties to this conflict and the people who fought for justice. Father Charlie Beirne, former Le Moyne President, went to El Salvador in 1990 to lead the Jesuit University. The International House was a campus organization centered around liberation theology specifically in Latin America, originally led in the 1970s by our current archivist, Father William Bosch. There is also another faculty at Le Moyne that are committed to studying Latin America, including Dr. Bruce Erickson and Dr. Yunus Sözen.


In fact, Le Moyne renamed one of its buildings in Honor of St. Oscar. On Springfield Road next door to the Health and Wellness Center, one can find Romero Hall which currently houses the C-Step and Upward Bound Programs. This building has formerly housed the Multi-Cultural Students Union and the International House, two organizations committed to understanding, representing and protecting those with less privilege, and working with the Jesuit framework of Women and Men For and With Others.


During the first weekend in November, I, along with 11 other students and two faculties went to the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington D.C. While there, we learned and listened and debated about how the Church can and should respond to the issues of Mass Migration and Mass Incarceration. The conclusions: that we as members of a human family should be open and understanding, to help other make a life for themselves and to challenge those who use power irresponsibly and selfishly. That is the core belief of St. Oscar, whom we recognized with all the other Jesuit Martyrs that weekend, to be a force of change for those who need, and a force for justice. That is also a core value of Le Moyne and its history as an institution and should continue to be a rallying point for our community, regardless of faith or current events. So, as you finish reading the paper and go about the rest of your day, keep it in the back of your mind: Where can I bring justice? Where can I make a change?


To learn more about the political and social work past ‘Phins have engaged in, come to the LMC Archive in the Noreen Falcone Library’s 2nd Floor. To make an appointment or for donations, check out our website or email us at [email protected] or [email protected]