One year after Pope Francis canonized St. Oscar Romero in Rome, the community at Sacred Heart School in Washington, D.C. gathered with students from throughout the Archdiocese of Washington to celebrate an anniversary Mass on Oct. 16 presided by Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart. 

“We gather as one family today to honor the memory of St. Oscar Romero, it’s wonderful to get so many of our young people here on such a happy and wonderful occasion,” Archbishop Gregory said. 

Schools from the Consortium of Catholic Academies -- Sacred Heart School, Saint Anthony Catholic School, Saint Thomas More Catholic Academy, and Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Academy -- as well as other Catholic schools including Blessed Sacrament School, Our Lady of Victory School, Holy Trinity School, Archbishop Carroll High School and Gonzaga College High School from Washington, D.C., and St. Francis International School in Silver Spring, Maryland, came together to honor the legacy of St. Oscar Romero through the Mass, which included singing from the Sacred Heart children’s choir, as well as a procession of dancers in traditional El Salvadoran dress. 

Elizabeth Heil, principal at Sacred Heart School, said that she was so grateful and excited that delegations from so many schools could attend. Before the Mass, she encouraged the students to relax and participate in the Mass. 

“At Sacred Heart we often say, ‘When we speak in English we speak from our head, but when we speak in Spanish we speak from our heart.’ So this Mass is really an offering of our heart, it’s a moment of love and solidarity for all of us to be together today,” Heil said. 

Welcoming Archbishop Gregory, Capuchin Franciscan Father Emilio Aguero, pastor at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, said that the congregation was lifting up the archbishop in prayer, especially as the students worked to put together the several parts of the Mass. 

“We promise to be with him, pray with him,” Father Aguero said. 

Archbishop Gregory encouraged students at an anniversary Mass of the canonization of St. Oscar Romero at Shrine of the Sacred Heart, to fully participate in the Mass, even if they think they can't sing very well, he said. (CS photo, Andrew Biraj) 

During his homily, Archbishop Gregory encouraged the students to “make yourselves one with the Lord Jesus during Mass,” he said. 

“We are supposed to become one with Christ in offering our Mass, and today as we honor the memory of St. Oscar Romero, we marvel because he did the ultimate combination of participating in the Mass,” Archbishop Gregory said. “He gave his life with Christ at Mass to the people that he served in El Salvador. He allowed his death to be united with the death of Christ. What a perfect way to participate at Mass.”

Looking at the way the Church honors St. Oscar Romero, the archbishop said it was through his life of service that the saint imitated Christ. 

“Because he brought his life, his life of service, his life of love, his life of generosity, into perfect union with Christ at the Mass at which he was martyred,” he said. “In so many ways, he gave us the perfect response to what we are to do at Mass, we are to become one with Christ in offering the Mass.”

By following the example of St. Oscar Romero, Archbishop Gregory said that one should unite oneself to Christ at Mass. 

“When we join our prayers with the prayers of Christ at Mass, the Father hears one voice, he hears the voice of His Son, united with all of us in offering one prayer of praise to our Father,” he said.

Cinnamon Sarver, the director for religious education at Sacred Heart School, thanked the students after the Mass for their attendance and participation. 

“We hope the Mass we celebrated gives everyone, especially the students, the energy to live, to love, to serve in the legacy of St. Oscar Romero,” she said. 

Following the Mass, the celebration continued in the basement of the church with pupusas and dancing. 

Students from 10 area Catholic schools celebrate the anniversary of St. Oscar Romero's canonization with a special Mass and a pupusa party at Shrine of the Sacred Heart. (CS photo: Andrew Biraj)