Just over three decades ago, in the heart of El Salvador, civil war shredded the fabric of Salvadoran society. Roughly 70,000 people were killed in the conflict, and government and military repression left thousands of people in the streets. Archbishop Oscar Romero was a light for the poor in one of the darkest moments of Salvadoran history. Father José Ángel Renderos Díaz will honor Romero’s life and his advocacy for the poor and disenfranchised of El Salvador in a talk at St. Thomas at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, in Room 126, John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts.

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Renderos, from the Archdiocese of San Salvador, is a spokesperson for the organization Fundacíon Monseñor Romero. He will give a presentation on Romero detailing the historical events surrounding his life, death and commitment to the poor. The lecture, titled “A Voice for the Voiceless,” will discuss Romero’s vision for a transformed world where all people have human dignity and how people can make a difference today in their own communities. Renderos will present his talk in Spanish, and it will be interpreted in English by Deborah Organ.

The presentation will be hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences’ History and Theology departments, and co-sponsored by several other departments.

Catherine Cory, Ph.D., associate professor of theology and current History Department chair, outlined the significance of Archbishop Romero’s life, saying that during a time of unrest, Romero emphasized how religious calling is “in every sense a call to action.” Rather than choosing compliance with a violent military regime, Romero chose to speak on behalf of the poor whenever and wherever he could.

“On the day before he was assassinated, he infuriated government officials when he spoke directly to the Salvadoran military urging them to heed God’s call to uphold human rights and stop killing their own people,” Cory said. “The next day, on March 24, 1980, Romero was killed by an assassin’s bullet while celebrating Mass in the small hospital chapel where he lived.”

Tonight’s presentation is free and open to the public.