A beatification for the 21st century

Father Estefan Turcios, a Salvadoran priest, is interviewed about Archbishop Oscar Romero via Skype by a TV station in Quito, Ecuador. (CNS photo by Rhina Guidos)

Father Estefan Turcios, a Salvadoran priest, is interviewed about Archbishop Oscar Romero via Skype by a TV station in Quito, Ecuador. (CNS photo by Rhina Guidos)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — If you can’t be in El Salvador for Saturday’s beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero, not to worry. The Internet will bring it right to you. From Instagram photos, to blogs and tweets, Facebook updates and free downloadable prayer cards and posters, the event will reach a global audience bigger than the 200,000 to 260,000 expected to attend the ceremony in this Central American nation of 6 million.

Karla Orozco, of the beatificacionromero.org office at the Archdiocese of San Salvador, has handled much of the social media preparation of the event, including getting priests, religious and journalists credentialed online. There have been inquiries from places such as Switzerland, Rome, London, as well as from many neighboring countries, about the event, she said. Using www.beatificacionromero.org, a small team of four, as well as young volunteers who trickle in and out, have handled online inquiries from abroad, she said, getting out information about how to watch in online, what feeds to follow, posting photos and videos about the goings-on.

The office instituted hashtags, in English and Spanish, educating digital natives interested in the beatification months before the event, and almost as soon as news that the beatification would take place went out.

Elsa Flores Portillo, of Washington, D.C., and a native of El Salvador, said she keeps up with news about the event by following @MonsRomeroBeato, the beatification office’s Twitter feed. She plans to watch a livestream at her parish on Sunday, along with others who can’t make it to El Salvador for the event.

The use of the modern media being used to move news of his beatification might be a fitting tribute to Archbishop Romero. Though he lived simply, among the few remaining belongings left in a room where he lived as archbishop, visitors will notice a tape recorder. He kept an audio diary — high technology for those days, and an instrument to transmit the Gospel to a mass audience.

To follow the beatification via Twitter, you can follow the #BeatificacionRomero hashtag in Spanish, #RomeroBeatification in English.

For more on the Saturday beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero, follow@CNS_Rhina on Twitter

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