Visiting the Sites of Archbishop Romero in El Salvador Inspire Sacramento Deacon and Wife

Larry and Norma Niekamp
I had seen the somewhat fictionalized movie Romero (starring Raul Julia) and the documentary Monseñor: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero, so there was a profound hush in my spirit as I walked into the hospital chapel where Archbishop Oscar A. Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980. He had been targeted by the military-controlled government of El Salvador because he spoke out publicly, demanding justice for the poor people of the country. During the years before and after Archbishop Romero’s death, it is estimated that 75,000 people were killed or “disappeared” during the civil war.

Archbishop Romero had received death threats and had been directly commanded to cease his efforts to
Norma at the Memorial Wall in San Salvador 
help the poor people. He had several opportunities to leave the country, yet he persisted. Much of my reflection in that chapel, especially as I stood at the altar during Mass, was a questioning of myself as to whether I am committed enough to meet the challenge of being a follower of Christ. Granted we do not live in a time of civil war – thanks be to God – and we have far more religious liberty that others in the world have, so martyrdom for my faith is a very, very, very distant probability. But the questions remain: How committed am I? At what point might I say “I have done enough – time now to rest.”

Archbishop Romero was killed as he stood at the altar during Mass. I wonder where I will be when my hour has come. Will I be active in service to those in need, beloved of the Lord? Or will I be comfortably resting on a beach, content that I had at one time done something worthwhile?

Archbishop Romero, give me strength!

Larry Niekamp is a deacon of the Sacramento Diocese.  Larry and his wife Norma are members of the Maryknoll Deacon Mission Partners Program and recently participated with other deacons and wives on a mission immersion trip to El Salvador in July 2013.

For more information about the program, visit