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Friday, March 19, 2010

Journalist By Trade-ii

Within hours after learning of the killing of monsignor Romero I filed a recap of my last interview with him. I had talked to the archbishop many times over the years and during the last few months of his life regularly attended his mini press conferences, more like impromptu gatherings with journalists after his Sunday mass.
As noted in my earlier post Monsignor and Me, I was perhaps one of the first to interview him at length shortly after he had been invested Archbishop in 1977. Not that we were at any time particularly close, but it had been then many years since the last time I had talked with him.
For a while back in the early 1960s “el padre Romero” had been chaplain at the Instituto Católico de Oriente, the Marist High School in San Miguel that I attended. Raised as a Baptist [and still an Evangelical Christian, not necessarily a good one] by my father’s paternal side of the family, I kind of drifted into Roman Catholicism while in secondary school.
I didn’t know it during my high school years, but there were a couple of additional coincidences between the two of us.
One is that both his father and mine were namesakes: Santos.
Although many of his childhood acquaintances called him by his first name, my father preferred his middle name, Oliverio, something that probably made me miss on that detail.
We also shared the same birthdates: August 15.
At least as far as regarding the one stamped in my birth certificate.
One reason why I never made much of that coincidence is that (as explained to me by my parents) some sort of delay of their own or bureaucratic mistake had me as born on that date, when in fact the birth had been days earlier.
To this day, unless my loved ones [the only ones who know it] wish me happy birthday on the actual date, my birth date is nothing more but data to be entered in legal documents. That day flies by me as just about any other —couldn’t really care less about it.
Once graduated from High School, and absent the pressure of obligated attendance to mass and daily prayers, the return to Baptist practice came back gradually though not immediately. Even if my Protestant roots had not been firmer, there were other reasons for me to get away from Roman Catholicism.
My point in retelling all this is basically to make clear that even though there was recognition from Romero when I mentioned our acquaintance from my teen years, there is no doubt in my mind that for him, mine was just one among the hundreds of once youthful faces lost in a then not so distant past.
Even so, when just a few weeks before his death my editors at EFE in Madrid relayed the request from a South American subscriber magazine for an interview with him, the archbishop agreed promptly to the request. That’s the interview summarized in the image above. (Please click to read.)

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