22 de Abril is Saint Clement's sharing parish in El Salvador. Every year, a group of parish families are invited on a trip to visit our sister parish, Immaculate Conception, in El Salvador. The focus is to build relationships with those in our sister parish, the community of 22 de Abril and the nearby elementary school. Participants learn about the Catholic Church in El Salvador and visit social projects the parish supports through Clement Commits. The trip is open to families with children in sixth grade and older. A parent/legal guardian must attend with his/her child. Participants stay at a nearby hotel in San Salvador. 

Relationship With Colonia 22 de Abril

Over 25 years ago years ago Fr. John Fahey and Sister Dolores Brooks, O.P., invited a Dominican priest named Fr. Jim Barnett, who was deeply involved in ministering to the needs of people throughout Central America, to meet with what was then our parish’s Peace and Justice group. With Fr. Fahey’s enthusiastic encouragement, Fr. Barnett presented those in attendance with a vision of Saint Clement’s parishioners expanding their involvement in social service beyond our country’s borders. He described opportunities to form working relationships with the poorest of the poor, in one of the poorest places on earth, El Salvador.

With a bloody civil war destroying families and much of Salvadoran society, and with most men drafted by either the army or the guerrillas, Salvadoran women, children and the elderly were left to fend for themselves. This led to thousands of broken families. As the Salvadoran Army began bombing the countryside, many people fled into the city of San Salvador, which was considered safer. They found shelter at the Colonia 22 de Abril, which had been settled on the site of a garbage dump on April 22, 1971, by 500 poor families who had been driven out of the capital city of San Salvador. They were joined by Salvadoran refugees who were returning from Honduras, accompanied by a Dominican missionary priest from Germany, Fr. Gerardo Poter.

Fr. Gerardo Poter

With the development of a connection between Fr. Gerardo and Fr. Fahey, the Saint Clement Community established itself in a sister relationship with the Catholics of Colonia 22 de Abril.

This relationship has been strengthened over the years by parishioners who have traveled often to Colonia 22 de Abril to meet our brothers and sisters. Through the leadership of Fr. Gerardo and with the support of foreign churches like Saint Clement, the community was able to establish the Jean Donovan Association. This foundation manages a pre-school, a primary school, a “school under the sky,” a folk art workshop, a finca where coffee is grown, a chicken farm and a health clinic. All these provide working and learning opportunities and improved health for people in 22 de Abril. They have had our strong spiritual support, as well as consistent financial support through the Clement Commits program.

When Father Gerardo retired four years ago, the Dominicans turned the parish church Inmaculada Concepción over to the Archdiocese of San Salvador. Today the parish church is led by Fr. Santos Belisario, a young and dedicated Salvadoran diocesan priest whose main focus is working with the youth of the neighborhood in collaboration with the Jean Donovan Association.

Fr. Santos Belisario

Saint Clement Parish continues our commitment to our sisters and brothers affected by poverty at the Colonia 22 de Abril in Soyapango, El Salvador. Annual trips to the neighborhood have provided our parishioners with the opportunity to create a stronger relationship with those whom our community first chose to accompany on their journey a quarter-century ago.

Archbishop Oscar Romero

The Romero Scholarship was named by the young men and women of Colonia 22 de Abril, who take inspiration in the life and ministry of Oscar Romero, 4th Archbishop of San Salvador, known as the “bishop of the poor.” Born on August 15, 1917, in El Salvador, he was the second of seven children. Although his family had more money than many of their neighbors, the Romeros had neither electricity nor running water in their small home, and the children slept on the floor. Since Oscar’s parents could not afford to send him to school after the age of twelve, he went to work as an apprentice carpenter. Although he quickly showed great skills, Oscar was already determined to become a priest.

In 1942, he was ordained a priest at the age of 25. He later was appointed the Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. Unfortunately, the political and economic situation in El Salvador was becoming worse and Oscar Romero couldn’t remain silent any longer. The military began killing the Salvadoran people, especially those who were demanding justice, such as teachers, nuns and priests. As thousands more people began to go missing, Bishop Oscar Romero demanded justice.

Romero began to walk through the slums and was horrified to find that children were dying because their parents could not pay for even the simplest medicines. Romero began using the resources of the diocese – and his own personal resources – to help the poor, but he knew that simple charity was not enough. He wrote in his diary that people who are poor should not just receive handouts from the Church or the government, but should be given opportunities to change their lives for the future

In his actions and words, Oscar demanded peace; a peace that could only be found in ensuring people had access to basic needs and in upholding their basic human rights. He paid the highest price on March 24, 1980.

As he was celebrating Mass, he was assassinated. Today the people of El Salvador are inspired by his example and sacrifice, remembering his words: “If they kill me, I will resurrect in the people of El Salvador.” Oscar Romero became a symbol of hope in a country that has suffered from monumental modern-day poverty, injustice and violence.

In his actions and words, Oscar demanded peace; a peace that could only be found in ensuring people had access to basic needs and in upholding their basic human rights. He paid the highest price on March 24, 1980.

As he was celebrating Mass, he was assassinated. Today the people of El Salvador are inspired by his example and sacrifice, remembering his words: “If they kill me, I will resurrect in the people of El Salvador.” Oscar Romero became a symbol of hope in a country that has suffered from monumental modern-day poverty, injustice and violence.