St. Paul business owner Rob Hahn first heard about El Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Romero in a senior theology class at Notre Dame. It was in that class that he learned of the Archbishop’s campaigns to fix social problems and his subsequent assassination. The Archbishop’s story struck a chord with Hahn—literally—and shortly after, he composed a song about Romero.
The song stayed dormant for a while, until Hahn heard that Romero would be officially beatified by the Catholic Church—a step along the path to canonization as a saint. It was then that Hahn decided to record the song and release it to the general public. He and other musicians from St. Paul and from McNally Smith College of Music recorded “Romero” in April. The song, Hahn says, is meant to honor Archbishop Romero in a rock-n-roll style akin to U2’s “Ordinary Love,” an homage to Nelson Mandela; or Peter Gabriel’s “Biko,” written for Steve Biko.
Romero was an outspoken clergy member throughout his life, often choosing to defy the status quo and speak out in support of the impoverished and disadvantaged. Because of the controversial nature of his life’s work he was assassinated while saying Mass on March 24, 1980. “Today’s church leaders everywhere can learn a lot from Romero’s actions,” Hahn said in a press release. “Church officials should be actively working to find solutions to social problems.”
The Catholic Church will beatify Archbishop Romero on May 23, 2015. You can find out more about Rob Hahn and “Romero” at romerosong.com.
Raisa Elhadi is a student at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.