Recently, on October 14, 2018, Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, was canonized a saint. You can help young children (ages 4-9) come to know about him with the following story. In it, I do not mention that Romero was assassinated. My experience is that when younger children hear of a violent death, they tend to focus on the death only. It is important that they first hear of Romero as a caring person who worked to help those who were treated unfairly and were extremely poor.
Making a booklet: Your child will become more invested in this story if she/he uses materials to make a booklet. Look for photographs of this new saint that are in the public domain online. (Search for “public domain images of Oscar Romero”; most will be of him as an adult; you may also find photos of him as a child, or a very young man.) Make copies of these and provide your child with the photos and this story.
They may want to use the photos with the story. Some children may choose to do illustrations with markers or crayons. So provide plenty of extra paper, scissors, a glue stick and crayons or markers.
Read the introduction with your child and then look for the country of El Salvador on a map. Explain that you will read the story together and then the child can then make a booklet about Oscar.
Introduction for children:
We have a new saint! His name is Oscar Romero. Saints are special and interesting people and it is important to learn about them.
Saint Oscar lived in the country called El Salvador. He was a good and holy man who became a priest and then a bishop. He loved God greatly and worked to help people who were very poor.
Suggested for a title page:
Saint Oscar Romero, Our Good Teacher
Suggested for page 1:
Little Oscar watched his father as he walked back and forth in the bedroom, saying his prayers aloud. He was doing this so his children would learn to pray the words, “Our Father, who art in heaven…”
Suggested for page 2:
Oscar played with his brothers and sisters. One was named Gustavo and another was Zaida. Some of the others were Gaspar, Romulo, Mamerto and Arnoldo. Their father was a farmer but also the mail carrier. Sometimes Oscar helped him deliver mail or other messages.
Suggested for page 4:
The Romero family had more money than some of their neighbors, but they were still poor. There was no electricity in their house. There was no running water either. The children slept on the floor or several slept on one bed.
Oscar went to school and often stopped in the church to pray.
Suggested for page 5:
When he was twelve, he had to quit going to school. His parents did not have enough money for him to go to that school any more. They needed young Oscar to get a job.
Oscar began working for a carpenter, who taught him many things. He learned quickly and became a good carpenter. He made tables, chairs and doors.
Suggested for page 6:
But Oscar knew God was calling him to become a priest. By the next year, when he was thirteen, he was able to go to a school where he could study to become a priest. He had to ride a horse for many hours to get there!
Suggested for page 7:
He studied hard and after a long time, he was ordained. As a priest, Oscar did many kinds of work. He taught children classes about prayer and that God was always with them. He baptized babies. He also worked in offices and went to meetings.
But more and more he began to see something that upset and worried him: there were many people in his country who were very, very poor and there were others who were very, very rich.
This was not fair! And why was it so unbalanced?
The more Oscar worried about this, the more he prayed. He thought about how Jesus wants us to love others, to share, and to work to make life fair for all of us.
Suggested for page 8:
Oscar Romero decided to do just what Jesus teaches.
Sometimes he was shy. Sometimes he was impatient. But he kept trying to do what he knew God wanted him to do. He spent the rest of his life doing that work. He gave talks about helping those who were poor. He spoke on the radio so many more could hear his words about loving and caring for all people.
It was hard work. Many people loved him, but others disagreed with him and were angry. He just kept on, knowing he was doing what Jesus asks.
Saint Oscar died more than 30 years ago but people in El Salvador remember him. Now, all over the world, people who never met him know about him too! They have heard that he used his life to teach others that God loves us and wants us to treat each other with love and care.