On 22 September, Aid for Children of El Salvador (ACES) were delighted to welcome Archbishop Bernard Longley to Pershore for an evening celebrating El Salvador.
Using information provided by CAFOD, the children from Holy Redeemer Catholic Primary School compared their lives in Pershore with those of children growing up in El Salvador. ACES founder, Bron Soan, listened to the Pershore children singing songs loved by the Salvadorian children with tears in her eyes. For 30 years Bron has been working with children who are in danger on the streets of San Salvador. With her inheritance, Bron set up a day centre called Amor – love in Spanish – and continues to work through ACES to raise the money to keep the centre running.
Bron told the children that she knew Holy Redeemer to be a good school, not only by their outstanding academic and sporting achievements, but by the way they looked after each other and cared for children across the world.
After sharing supper with us, Archbishop Bernard spoke about a visit he had made to El Salvador in 2010. It was there that he learned about the courage it takes to stand up and speak for others. He reminded us that we had prayed for and were now witnessing the change in heart of the El Salvadorian administration and our own church towards Oscar Romero. Archbishop Oscar Romero, ‘the voice of the voiceless’, was assassinated by government agents while saying Mass in EL Salvador in 1980. Oscar Romero was finally recognised as ‘Blessed’ (a step on the way to official sainthood) in May 2015, to much rejoicing in El Salvador and the rest of the world.
Archbishop Bernard said that, when visiting the places that Oscar Romero had lived and worked in, he had recognised ‘the incarnation of holiness of that remarkable person of God’. Our Archbishop then visited ordinary people in El Salvador whom Blessed Oscar Romero had cherished so much. The local people told him of partnership projects with CAFOD that had bought knowledge, better food and education. Importantly, these projects had engendered a sense of pride and achievement in local communities and an ambition to make a better future for the people of El Salvador.
Archbishop Bernard praised Pershore for its focus on the children of El Salvador and especially for the link created by Bron between the Pershore area and the children in San Salvador. He encouraged us, like Pope Frances, to look afresh and deepen our understanding of Gospel values. He suggested that we use this Jubilee Year of Mercy to enhance what we do.
CAFOD too has broadened its approach and is using this effective idea of linking communities and parishes in its Side by Side projects.
Aces raised £1,123.50 on the night, every penny of which goes straight to supporting the children in El Salvador.
Do find out more online at www.aces-charity.uk