The Mission Hub

The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St.Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerfulmissionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Blood of the Martyrs is The Seed of the Church

These are the words of Tertullian, a third century historian and vigorous defender of the Christian faith during the time of the early persecutions. Since these words were spoken, countless men, women and children all over the world have given their lives for the faith.

March 24th was the thirty-first anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the martyred Archbishop of El Salvador. Oscar Romero was born in Ciudad Barrios, a small town in El Salvador. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1942 in a country where the social policies toward the poor formed a pyramidal structure: one-half of one percent of the population owned ninety percent of the country’s wealth.

As Romero’s vision of his role as a priest, and later Archbishop, expanded, so did his vision of his responsibility to advocate on behalf of the poor. This put him at direct odds with the government; his life was threatened on more than one occasion. Not only did Romero preach equality and fair economic standards for every citizen, he openly defied the policies that he considered unjust. Following the murder of one of his closest friends, a Jesuit priest, he excommunicated the murderers. During this time, right wing groups were spreading leaflets everywhere: “Be a patriot: kill a priest.”

Archbishop Romero fully expected to give his life for his faith and his people. He likened himself to “the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep.” His prediction came true on March 24, 1980, as he celebrated Mass and was gunned down by an assassin. Even his own funeral Mass was not without violence. A bomb was thrown into the crowd of over a quarter million people, killing at least forty and causing general panic and stampede.

Oscar Romero’s pastoral theology is best expressed in a quote from one of his homilies: There is one rule by which to judge if God is near us or is far away-- the rule that God's word is giving us today: everyone concerned for the hungry, the naked, the poor, for those who have vanished in police custody, for the tortured, for prisoners, for all flesh that suffers, has God close at hand.

Every day around the world, missionaries put themselves in harm’s way by continuing to live by the words of Jesus, as voiced by Archbishop Romero. Please pray for them and the people they risk their lives to serve.

For more information on the courageous global missionary presence of the Church see our website:

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