A service in Goodson Chapel was held at the culmination of the International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18–25) to dedicate a relic of Saint Óscar Romero. Duke Divinity School welcomed the Most Reverend Luis Rafael Zarama, bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Raleigh, N.C., as the guest preacher. On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Óscar Romero was assassinated as he celebrated mass in El Salvador. He is now considered one of the first Latin American Church Fathers, and the Roman Catholic Church canonized him as a saint on Oct. 14, 2018. Duke Divinity Dean Edgardo Colón-Emeric has published an award-winning book about Romero, Óscar Romero’s Theological Vision: Liberation and Transfiguration of the Poor (University of Notre Dame Press). On a visit to San Salvador in March 2020, Colón-Emeric was presented with two first-order relics of Romero by the archbishop of San Salvador, José Luis Escobar Alas. International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity The International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, observed by congregations and communities around the world, was led this year by Christians in Burkina Faso who provided daily Scripture readings, reflections and prayers that Jesus’ words about his followers might come to fruition: “that they will all be one” (John 17:21a). The Center for Reconciliation shared these daily resources with the Duke Divinity community, and additional events included prayer services, a panel with the houses of study, gatherings hosted by student groups including New Creation Arts and Divinity Pride, and ecumenical services at churches in Durham Relic of Óscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador“Today, in the reception of this relic, we celebrate the witness of Óscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador—his life, his testimony, and his devotion to Jesus Christ, Son of God, friend of the poor and oppressed,” said the Very Reverend Timothy Kimbrough, the director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies and the Jack and Barbara Bovender Professor of the Practice of Anglican Studies, who participated in the dedication service. “A blood-splattered piece of cloth, cut from the altar covering in use at the mass being said by the Archbishop on the day of his assassination (March 24, 1980), is being given to the Duke Divinity School, bringing this witness and devotion into the midst of the student body, staff, and faculty; indeed into the orbit of the university campus.” Image Almighty God, you called your servant Óscar Romero to be a voice for the voiceless poor, and to give his life as a seed of freedom and a sign of hope; Grant that we, inspired by his sacrifice and the example of the martyrs of El Salvador, may without fear or favor witness to your Word who abides, your Word who is Life, even Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be praise and glory now and forever. Amen. Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2022 In his remarks during the service, Dean Colón-Emeric noted that the report of the Joint International Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church, “The Call to Holiness” (2016), emphasizes that relics of the saints are not to distract from the worship of God. “Relics can be for us signs of belief in the resurrection and tangible tokens of the communion of saints above and below as one.” He described Romero as “a pilgrim for social justice and church unity, a Pentecost prophet calling us to the trio of knowledge, piety, and mercy.” Bishop Luis Rafael ZaramaBishop Zarama made his first visit to the pulpit of Goodson Chapel and encouraged a renewed focus on the message of Jesus to love both God and neighbor. “Our challenge, when we are looking for unity, and we see examples of someone giving their lives for the service of Jesus, is to listen to what Jesus says to us: Love God, and love your neighbor. What is the measure of love? We speak about love, but we don’t understand how deep is the challenge the Lord gives to us. The measure is Jesus himself—‘as I am loving you.’” It is that love of Jesus “that gives us freedom to give our lives as Óscar Romero did,” Zarama said. “When we, in that freedom, open ourselves to be loved by Jesus, not with my own agenda, we can work for the unity we are dreaming of.” Image “Our challenge, when we are looking for unity, and we see examples of someone giving their lives for the service of Jesus, is to listen to what Jesus says to us: Love God, and love your neighbor. What is the measure of love? We speak about love, but we don’t understand how deep is the challenge the Lord gives to us. The measure is Jesus himself—‘as I am loving you.’” Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama The Rite of Dedication was jointly performed by Bishop Zarama, Dean Colón-Emeric, the Very Rev. Kimbrough, and the Rev. Meghan Benson (Duke Divinity chaplain). The relic will be kept just underneath the table surface of the Goodson Chapel altar, a traditional placement for relics informed the scriptural text: “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne” (Revelation 6:9). At the direction of the dean and chaplain, the relic may used in recognition of ministries and prayers associated with the gospel work of reconciliation, advocacy for the oppressed, and the reform of unjust societal structures. International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Prayer from Burkina Faso “Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, who makes us more open to each other, resolves conflict, and strengthens our bonds of communion. May we grow in mutual affection and in the desire to announce the gospel message more faithfully, that the world may come together in unity and welcome the Prince of Peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.” “The great cloud of witnesses, the communion of saints surrounds us all—every member of the baptized, every church in its assembly, every prayer meeting called in the Name of Jesus—every minute of every day,” Kimbrough wrote for the service of dedication bulletin. “And yet, to gather as the Divinity School community in the nearness of this relic from the life and body of Óscar Romero, martyr of the church, will surely serve as a tangible reminder of the fearless and self-less discipleship Christ requires of his church and of all those who are called to bear the cost of discipleship.” Prayer of Dedication Dean Edgardo Cólon-Emeric, Irene and William McCutchen Professor of Reconciliation and Theology God, our rock and our fortress, who is manifest in the lives of your servants across time and space, we give you thanks for the life of martyr Óscar Romero, who called your Church to deeper repentance, renunciation of self, and advocacy for those who are poor, as he followed the life of your Son even to the point of death. May this relic inspire the continuation of Romero’s work done in your name; and grant that we may always be surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses as we seek to follow the path that leads to liberation for all your people. We reverently enclose the relic within this altar where we may be reminded first of your sacrifice, as well as Romero and all those “who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne” (Revelation 6:9); we pray all these things through Christ our Lord. Amen.