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Seton Hall University

Inside the Core: Seton Hall Commemorates St. Oscar Romero and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  

On Friday, March 24 from 12-1 p.m. and Tuesday, April 4 from 1-2 p.m., Seton Hall University will hold, for the fourth time, the annual 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 read excerpts from the works of St. Romero and Dr. King. We will meet on the green at noon on March 24 and at 1 p.m. on April 4, but you can also join us on Microsoft Teams. Click here for the link.

In addition to the events on the green, during the week and a half between the two events, students may watch any of the listed films available to the Seton Hall community, which may be assigned by faculty:

  • 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) – available in Seton Hall's Library (to be used in house) or through Amazon. 14-episode series.
  • Romero – available free through Tubi. It is also available on Amazon and in the Core office (Mooney 313).
  • Selma – available on Amazon (free with Prime) and in the Core office (Mooney 313).

Having this special week and a half dedicated to honoring these two religious and social justice icons came after the Academic Expo in 2019, when Rev. Forrest Pritchett developed a vision involving an examination of the intersections of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, as represented by the life and work of Archbishop Romero, and the prophetic ministry of the social and restorative justice of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. With the support and collaboration of the University Core and the Catholic Studies Program, Romero-King week (and a half) has continued annually (going remote during the pandemic) since that time.

Oscar Romero

St. Oscar Romero

Archbishop 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, and cried out against the nonstop disappearances, arrests and assassinations of the poor and those who, like himself, spoke out for human rights on their behalf. Eventually, St. Romero's strong stance cost him his life when a government-backed assassin shot him to death while saying Mass. 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."

In the collection of his sermons, The Violence of Love, used in the curriculum of Core II, St. Romero has said: "We have never preached violence, except the violence of love, which left Christ nailed to a cross, the violence that we must each do to ourselves to overcome our selfishness and such cruel inequalities among us. The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred. It is the violence of love, of brotherhood, the violence that wills to beat weapons into sickles for work." His words are as relevant today as they were some forty years ago when he said them.


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was, as is widely known, a civil rights activist and social justice advocate, whose 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 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, and Inclusion and the Martin Luther King Leadership Program and Senior Adviser to Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion).

This year, as in 2022 and 2021, 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. 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