Psalm 24:4-9. R. v.6Pope Francis, from the very start of his papal ministry, made it clear that he wanted the Church to be close to the people, with ministers “who smell of their sheep”.
Blessed Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador nearly 40 years ago did just that, as El Salvador relentlessly moved towards a 12 year civil war, born of the deep injustices and frustrations of poverty and violent repression of the poor majority. He learnt from the people he served, and weekly interpreted the Sunday readings from the perspective of the experiences of people living in poverty, as well as theological reflection and Church teaching.
Today, the example of Graciela in El Salvador may similarly inspire us. Graciela lived on the outskirts of the capital city San Salvador, in an area deeply affected by poverty and gang violence. She was 86 years old when she was involved some five years ago in a project the Sisters of Saint Clare continue to run today with CAFOD’s support that aims to build a peaceful society, where all may thrive.
Graciela was learning to make colourful, sweet-filled party games called piñatas, as a way to make a small income. She also took part in family workshops the Sisters run to build strong family units. Economic pressures often mean parents in Central America have to migrate for work, leaving their children in the care of aunts, uncles and grandparents. Or if they work closer to home, their earnings often do not stretch to pay for formal childcare arrangements.