Seton Hall University

Inside the Core: Celebrating St. Oscar Romero and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  

On Thursday, March 24 from noon to 1:30 p.m. and Monday, April 4 also from noon to 1:30 p.m., Seton Hall will hold, for the third time the opening and closing events of "Romero-King week (and a half)," honoring two of our greatest representatives of social justice and sacrificial faith – St. Oscar Romero (who was assassinated on March 24, 1980 and canonized by Pope Francis in 2018) and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (who was assassinated on April 4, 1968). We will be celebrating both men on both days. Faculty, administrators and students will do readings from St. Romero and Dr. King. We will meet on the green at noon on both days, but you can also join us on Microsoft Teams. Click here to join the meeting.

In the week and a half between the two events, students may watch and faculty can assign any of these films, available to the Seton Hall community:

  • Monsenor: the Last Journey of Oscar Romero – available on Kanopy, through the Seton Hall website. It is also available in the Core office (Mooney 313).
  • Eyes on the Prize (on the civil rights movement, with much on King) – 14 episode series. All episodes are available in Academic Video Online(AVON), which can be accessed from the library homepage. Search for “Eyes on the Prize” in the search box, the episodes come up but may be a little scattered. These are available at no cost.
  • Romero – available through TUBI, It is also available on Amazon and in the Core office (Mooney 313).
  • Selma: available through Digital Campus; available also on Amazon and in the Core office (Mooney 313).

The collaboration, to honor the two religious figures came after the Academic Expo in 2019, when the MLK Leadership Program developed a vision to look at the intersections of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, as represented by the life and work of Archbishop Romero and the prophetic ministry of social and restorative justice of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rev. Pritchett’s vision received the support of Dr. Nancy Enright, Director University Core Program. Dr. Ines Murzaku, Chair of Catholic Studies, also has offered enthusiastic support. Together we planned this event to be celebrated in person, on the green. With the corona virus outbreak in 2020 and then in 2021, we decided not to let this celebration be stopped by having to go remote. However, this year, we are thrilled to offer it in person for the first time (as well as on TEAMS).

Oscar RomeroArchbishop Oscar Romero, the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador, spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations, and torture amid conflicts between the oligarchy of the country, supported by the government, and those fighting for economic and political justice. He condemned the violence on both sides, though most of the attacks were by the government-supported death squads, and the nonstop disappearances of the poor and those, like himself, speaking out for human rights. St. Romero was beatified on May 23, 2015 and canonized October 14, 2018. His motivation and inspiration to empower others is seen and summarized in his quote "Each one of you has to be God’s microphone."

Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was, as is widely known, a civil rights activist and social justice advocate, who had a great deal of influence on American society in the 1950's and 1960's. His strong belief in nonviolent protest helped set the tone and a strategic approach for the civil rights movement. Boycotts, protests, and marches were led by Dr. King, until legislation passed against racial discrimination, though the struggle in which he fought continues. Dr. King didn't just preach about a comfortable Christianity or a stagnant church. He led the church to action. As a social justice prophet, he denounced not only racial inequality but also wealth disparity and economic injustice. Dr. King was in Memphis when he was assassinated because he was organizing a strike for better pay and working conditions for Negro sanitation workers.

Two of his quotes set the paradigm for this important week and a half honoring him and St. Romero at Seton Hall University….

"Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." ― Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.

As Rev. Dr. Forrest Pritchett, Program Director, Martin Luther King Leadership Program, has said, "We honor these two individuals from the Protestant and Catholic traditions who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of their God and as they stood to speak against the forces of darkness and oppression. Their sacrifices were twelve years apart, but the communality of their purpose and motivation show them to be brothers of the same spirit and adherents to the truth of the same word. (Rev. Dr Forrest Pritchett, Senior Adviser to Provost for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and the Martin Luther King Leadership Program)

This year, like last year, a copy of an icon depicting "The New Martyrs," those killed for their faith in modern times, which is on display at the Church of San' Bartolomeo in Rome, will be displayed in the Immaculate Conception Chapel, in the small side chapel dedicated to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. This icon includes among the martyrs both Martin Luther King, Jr., and St. Oscar Romero (in the lower right, depicted together). The icon comes to us courtesy of the Sant' Egidio community, thanks to Dr. Andrea Bartoli, Core Fellow. It will be on display in the Immaculate Conception chapel throughout the Romero-King week and a half. Please stop by and pay a visit to the icon and say a prayer for the ideals represented by these two leaders.

Categories: Faith and Service