Throughout his time as Archbishop of San Salvador (1977-1980), Oscar Romero continually pointed to Catholic Social Teaching as a way of understanding and orienting how the Christian faith is to be lived in the contemporary world. As we approach the 40th anniversary of Romero’s martyrdom, the 35th annual Romero Days conference will bring together a distinguished group of scholars to both critically engage the role of Catholic Social Teaching within Romero’s life, witness, and writings, and explore Romero’s legacy in light of contemporary work for justice and human development. Speakers will address Romero’s Salvadoran context, his overall relationship to Catholic Social Teaching, his employment of particular Catholic Social Teaching principles, and how his legacy might be received today.

Sponsored by Latin American North American Church Concerns (LANACC).

Romero Days 2020 Conference Schedule (Preliminary)


Monday, March 23rd

Location: Hesburgh Center for International Studies, C103 (unless otherwise stated)

8:30-9:00am             Registrations Check-In

9:00-9:10am             Welcome Address
Todd Walatka, University of Notre Dame

9:10-10:30am           Session 1: Romero in Context
Sr. Ana Maria Pineda, Santa Clara University—Romero and Rutilio Grande
Michael Lee, Fordham University—Romero and Liberation Theology

10:40am-12:00pm   Session 2: Catholic Social Teaching and the Option for the Poor
Margie Pfeil, University of Notre Dame—Romero and Catholic Social Teaching
Edgardo Colón-Emeric, Duke Divinity School—The God Who Sweats in the Street”: Romero and the Option for the Poor

12:00-1:30pm           Lunch

1:30-3:00pm             Session 3: Human Dignity
David Lantigua, University of Notre Dame—Romero, CST, and Human Dignity
Carmen Nanko-Fernández, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago—Romero’s Legacy for Human Dignity Today

3:00-3:30pm             Coffee Break

3:30-5:00pm             Session 4: The Common Good
Stephen J. Pope, Boston College—Romero, the Common Good, and Economic Justice
Nichole Flores, University of Virginia—Romero, the Common Good, and Social Movements

Tuesday, March 24th

Location: Hesburgh Center for International Studies, C103 (unless otherwise stated)

9:00-9:10am             Recap of Day 1 and Introduction to Day 2
Todd Walatka

9:10-10:30am           Session 1: Peace
Kevin J. Burke, S.J., Regis College—Romero, CST, and Peace
José Henriquez, National University of Ireland—El Salvador’s Search for Meaning: Romero’s Peacebuilding Legacy Explored in the Post-War Era

10:40am-12:00pm   Session 2: Solidarity
Meghan Clark, St. John’s University—Romero, CST, and Solidarity
Elizabeth O’Donnell Gandolfo, Wake Forest Divinity School—Solidarity, Base Communities, and the People of God

12:00-1:30pm           Lunch

1:30-3:00pm             Session 3: Romero and the Practice of Catholic Social Teaching
Rubén Rosario Rodríguez, Saint Louis University—Radical Nonviolence: Romero, Catholic Social Teaching, and Racism
Matthew Phillip Whelan, Baylor University—Óscar Romero, Catholic Social Teaching, and Land Reform
Leo Guardado, Fordham University—The Church as Sanctuary and CST

3:00-3:15pm             Coffee Break

3:15-4:15pm             Notre Dame Student Presentations

4:15-4:45pm             Closing Reflections
Todd Walatka
Peter Casarella, University of Notre Dame

5:15-6:15pm             Romero Martyrdom Anniversary Mass
Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame

6:30-8:30pm             Reception and Banquet Dinner
Conferral of the Annual Rev. Robert S. Pelton, CSC Essay Contest Awards
Location: The Oak Room, South Dining Hall

Kevin J. Burke

Rev. Kevin Burke, SJ, is professor and vice president for mission at Regis University. Before his appointment, Burke served for two decades as a professor of theology at two Jesuit theology centers – at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. He served as dean and acting president at the latter from 2006-12. In addition, he has been a valuable member of Regis’ Board of Trustees and he sits on the board of the University of San Francisco, as well as on the boards of several other organizations. He is a nationally recognized speaker at universities and theological conferences and the author or editor of seven books and many articles that address contemporary theological and social issues. He is a well-known scholar on Latin American liberation theology and has written extensively on the thought of Salvadoran thinkers Ignacio Ellacuría and Jon Sobrino.

Peter Casarella

Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow Peter Casarella is associate professor of theology and former director of LANACC. Before coming to Notre Dame in 2013, Peter Casarella served as professor of Catholic Studies at DePaul University where he was also the director of the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology. He has taught previously at the University of Dallas and The Catholic University of America. He has published almost fifty essays in scholarly journals on a variety of topics – e.g., medieval Christian Neoplatonism, contemporary theological aesthetics, and the Hispanic/Latino presence in the U.S. Catholic Church. In 2005 he served as President of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the US (ACHTUS). He has edited or co-edited: Cuerpo de Cristo: The Hispanic Presence in the U.S. Catholic Church (1998), Christian Spirituality and the Culture of Modernity: The Thought of Louis Dupré (1998), Cusanus: The Legacy of Learned Ignorance (2006), and, most recently, A World for All? Global Civil Society in Political Theory and Trinitarian Theology (2011).

Meghan Clark 

Meghan Clark is an Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at St. John’s University. She is an expert in Catholic Social Teaching and has published extensively on the principle of solidarity. In 2014 she published The Vision of Catholic Social Thought: The Virtue of Solidarity and the Praxis of Human Rights. From 2010-2013, she served as a Consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice. Currently, she serves as a faculty expert for the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations coordinated by St. John’s Vincentian Center for Church and Society. She is a Senior Fellow of the Vincentian Center for Church and Society. From 2012-2018, she served on the Board of Directors of America Press, Inc and the faculty advisory board for Catholic Relief Services university engagement.  In 2015, Dr. Clark was a Fulbright Scholar to the Hekima Institute for Peace Studies and International Relations at Hekima University College, Nairobi, Kenya. She has conducted fieldwork on human rights and solidarity in Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania. At St. John’s, Dr. Clark engages students inside and outside the classroom on diverse topics in moral theology and Catholic social thought. She received her Ph.D. in Theological Ethics from Boston College has a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from Fordham University

Edgardo Colón-Emeric

Edgardo Colón-Emeric is assistant professor of Christian theology and founder of the Hispanic House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. Colón-Emeric obtained a BS from Cornell University (1990), an MS from the University of Vermont (1994), an MDiv from Duke Divinity School (1997), and a PhD from Duke University (2007). An ordained United Methodist minister, he has served as pastor for Hispanic ministries in North Carolina. His research and teaching bring Wesleyan and Thomistic theology into conversation with questions emerging from the Hispanic and Latin American context. At present, he is working on a book on the theology of Óscar Romero. Colón-Emeric directs Methodist theological formation programs in Central America and Peru, and he is regularly involved in national and international dialogues between Catholics and Methodists

Nichole M. Flores

Nichole M. Flores is assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia. She researches the constructive contributions of Catholic and Latinx theologies to notions of justice and aesthetics as applied in public life. Her research in practical ethics addresses issues of politics, migration, family, gender, economics (labor and consumption), race and ethnicity, and ecology. She teaches courses on Latinx religion, Catholic theology and ethics, religion and democracy, and bioethics. She is a UVA Arts & Sciences College Fellow for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.  

Dr. Flores has published essays in the Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, and the Journal of Religion and Society. She has contributed book chapters to several edited book volumes, including a theological biography of Ella Baker in Can I Get a Witness? Thirteen Peacemakers, Community Builders, and Agitators for Faith and Justice. She is a contributing author on the masthead at America: The Jesuit Review of Faith & Culture.

In 2015, Dr. Flores was honored with the Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award for best essay in academic theology by a junior scholar from the Catholic Theological Society of America. Dr. Flores earned an A.B. in government from Smith College, an M.Div. from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in theological ethics from Boston College.

Elizabeth O'Donnell Gandolfo

Elizabeth O'Donnell Gandolfo is the Edith B. and Arthur E. Earley Assistant Professor of Catholic and Latin American Studies at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Gandolfo is a constructive theologian whose teaching and research interests coalesce around the following themes in feminist and Latin American liberation theologies: the place of motherhood in theology and spirituality; the theological and political significance of remembering suffering; and the ecclesiology of Christian base communities in Latin America. Her first book, The Power and Vulnerability of Love: A Theological Anthropology (Fortress, 2015), draws on women’s experiences of maternity and natality to construct a theology of suffering and redemption that is anchored in the reality of human vulnerability. She is co-editor of Parenting as Spiritual Practice and Source for Theology: Mothering Matters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), which brings together theological reflections on mothering by women scholars in theology, bible, and ethics. Gandolfo is currently working on a book project entitled Re-membering the Reign of God: The Decolonial Witness of El Salvador’s Church of the Poor. She holds a B.A. in Theology from St. Joseph’s University, a Masters of Theological Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a Ph.D. in Theological Studies from Emory University

Leo Guardado

Leo Guardado, Salvadoran by birth, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology at Fordham University. His research is focused on the theological and embodied ecclesial responses to the transnational mechanisms of violence that continue to displace persons from Latin America and that persecute them within the US. Informed by Liberation Theology, the lived experience of Latina/o communities, and Gandhian nonviolence, Guardado seeks to reconcile the socially-transformative wisdom of these traditions. More particularly, Leo writes on the concept and practice of church sanctuary, its relation to the 1980s Sanctuary Movement, and the ecclesiological implications of a church of the poor and persecuted in the US. Methodologically, he engages ethnographic approaches with the craft of theology for it can serve as a means of accompanying communities while also generating scholarship. He has recently published “Nonviolence: The Witness of a Church of Mercy” in Expositions 13.2 (2019), and “Just peace, Just Sanctuary: Immigration and Ecclesial Nonviolence” in A Just Peace Ethic (Georgetown University Press, 2020). He is also working on his first monograph titled Church as Sanctuary, which provides a theological defense of sanctuary practices and argues that sanctuary is a nonviolent means for church communities to resist and interrupt the legalized violence of the state. Guardado received his B.A. from St. Mary’s College of California, and his M.T.S  and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame.

José Henriquez

José Henriquez is a Salvadoran peace activist. He is a Doctoral Researcher and Lecturer on International Human Rights Law in the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland in Galway. José’s current research topics include state repression, gang violence and human rights in Central America. He is the former Secretary General of Pax Christi International and remains an international advisor for the international peace movement based in Belgium. He served as Executive Director of the Fundación Marista in Guatemala and also as Chair of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of the Creation Commission of the Guatemalan Conference of Women and Men Religious (CONFREGUA). José holds an MSc from American University (Washington, DC); and BAs from the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome) and the La Salle University (México/Guatemala).


David Lantigua

Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow David Lantigua is Assistant Professor of Moral Theology/Christian Ethics. He is interested in the judicious theological retrieval of fundamental moral concepts and ecclesial practices from the Christian tradition to address contemporary social issues.

Lantigua specializes in late scholastic moral and political thought emerging out of the Salamanca school and the debates concerning the Spanish conquests of the Americas. His research explores the contested legacy of Latin/o Christianity in current discussions of just war, empire, race, religious violence, international order and human rights. He is currently completing two books related to this research. His other research project on the image of God elaborates a constructive notion of human dignity in an effort to bridge a morality of virtue and rights for Christian social ethics.

Michael E. Lee

Michael E. Lee is Professor of Theology at Fordham University, where he is affiliated with the Latin American and Latinx Studies Institute and teaches Roman Catholic theology, liberation theologies, Latin American and Latinx theologies, Christology, and spirituality. His most recent book is Revolutionary Saint: The Theological Legacy of Óscar Romero (Orbis, 2018). He has provided a new introduction for the anniversary edition of Voice of the Voiceless: The Four Pastoral Letters and Other Statements by Saint Óscar Romero (Orbis, 2020). Dr. Lee is also the author of Bearing the Weight of Salvation: The Soteriology of Ignacio Ellacuría (Crossroad, 2009), and editor of Ignacio Ellacuría: Essays on History, Liberation, and Salvation (Orbis, 2013). He has served as President of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS), and on the governing boards of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) and Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). He holds a BA, MA and PhD from the University of Notre Dame, as well as an MA from the University of Chicago.

Carmen M. Nanko-Fernández

Carmen M. Nanko-Fernández is professor of hispanic theology and ministry as well as director of the Hispanic Theology and Ministry Program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. A Latin@ theologian, her publications include Theologizing en Espanglish: Context, Community and Ministry (2010), and numerous chapters and articles on Latin@ theologies, Catholic social teaching, im/migration, sport and theology, with particular attention to béisbol/baseball.  She is currently completing ¿El Santo? Baseball and the Canonization of Roberto Clemente, which is under contract with the Sport and Religion series of Mercer University Press. A past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS), she received their Virgilio Elizondo Award for “distinguished achievement in theology” in 2012.

Margaret Pfeil

Margaret Pfeil is an associate professional specialist at the University of Notre Dame, holding joint appointments in the Department of Theology and the Center for Social Concerns. Her research interests include Catholic social thought, racial justice, ecological ethics, ecumenical dialogue, and peace studies. She is author of The Scandal of White Complicity in U.S. Hyper-incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of White Resistance (with Laurie Cassidy and Alex Mikulich, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and coeditor with Gerald Schlabach of Sharing Peace: Mennonites and Catholics in Conversation (Liturgical Press, 2013). A founder of the St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker House in South Bend, she holds a PhD from the University of Notre Dame.

Sr. Ana María Pineda, RSM

Sr. Ana María Pineda, RSM, is associate professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University, where she teaches courses in Latino/Hispanic theology. Pineda has published numerous articles on topics related to Hispanic ministry, popular religion, pastoral practices, and the importance of oral tradition. Recent research interests include the lives and legacies of Archbishop Romero and Rutilio Grande, SJ. Pineda is a founding member of the Hispanic Theological Initiative, which provides scholarships and mentoring for Latino/doctoral theological students, the past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the US (ACHTUS), and the coeditor of Dialogue Rejoined: Theology and Ministry in the United States Hispanic Reality (1995). She has served on the boards of many institutions, including the Louisville Institute, ACHTUS, and the Advisory Committee for the Hispanic Theological Scholarship Initiative. Born in San Salvador, El Salvador, Pineda was raised in the Latino neighborhood of San Francisco, California.

She was a speaker in the 2017 Romero Days. She presented her book on Romero and Grande.

Ana Maria Pineda R.S.M., a member of the Sisters of Mercy, is a graduate of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago (M.A.) and the Pontifical University of Salamanca, Spain (S.T.D.), where her dissertation examined the Hispanic permanent diaconate in the United States. A native of El Salvador, Professor Pineda is a past faculty member at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago and past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theology in the United States (ACHTUS). In addition, she served on the board of the Louisville Institute, the Bishops; Committee for Hispanic Affairs, and numerous others. Sr. Pineda is the founding member of the Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI). Sr. Pineda joined the Santa Clara University faculty in 1997 and served as the Director of the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries from 1999–2005. She currently teaches courses on Hispanic spirituality and theology. Sr. Pineda recently published Romero & Grande: Companions on the Journey.

Stephen J. Pope

Stephen J. Pope is professor of theological ethics at Boston College. His research interests focus on virtue ethics, charity and justice, the ethics of Thomas Aquinas, and Roman Catholic social teachings. He is the author of A Step Along the Way: Models of Christian Service (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Press, 2015) and of various articles on peacebuilding, justice, and political reconciliation in El Salvador, Uganda, and elsewhere. He is editor of Solidarity and Hope: Jon Sobrino’s Challenge to the Christian Theology (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Press, 2008). His recent work focuses on forgiveness and restorative justice, particularly among forced migrants accompanied by Jesuit Refugee Service.

Rev. Rubén Rosario Rodríguez

Rev. Rubén Rosario Rodríguez, a graduate of Union Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary, is Professor of Systematic Theology in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University. An ordained Presbyterian minister, he has contributed chapters to two recent collections on Latino/a theology in the United States, The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Latino/a Theology (2015) and Immigrant Neighbors among Us: Immigration across Theological Traditions (2015). His books include Racism and God-Talk: A Latino/a Perspective (NYU Press, 2008), which won the 2011 Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award for Theology, Christian Martyrdom and Political Violence: A Conversation with Judaism and Islam (Cambridge University Press, 2017), and Dogmatics After Babel: Beyond the Theologies of Word and Culture (Westminster John Knox Press, 2018). His most recent publication is an edited collection, The T&T Clark Handbook of Political Theology (Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, 2019), which offers a comprehensive snapshot of the field with contributions from scholars in all three Abrahamic traditions. He is director of the Mev Puleo Scholarship in Latin American Theology, Politics, and Culture, a ten-week immersion experience with an emphasis on liberation theology and social justice, and Director of Masters Programs in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University.

Todd Walatka

Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow Todd Walatka serves as the assistant chair for graduate studies in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Specializing in contemporary Catholic systematic theology, his research focuses particularly on the thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Latin American liberation theology. He also works in the field of pedagogy and pedagogical formation, both in his role as assistant chair for graduate studies and in his research. Two ongoing book projects explore the theme of mercy in liberation theology and the theological witness of Archbishop Óscar Romero. The courses he has taught most recently include: The Church and the Poor, Mercy and Liberation, Introduction to Vatican II, Christian Traditions II, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, and Teaching Theology.

Matthew Philipp Whelan

Matthew Philipp Whelan is a lecturer in the Department of Religion at Baylor University. As a moral theologian, his current research agenda lies at the intersection of theology and agroecology. Whelan explores what natural law tradition and agroecology can learn from one another about natural order, the place of humans within it, and the tilling and keeping of the world. His doctoral dissertation looked at Romero’s life and martyrdom through the lens of agrarian conflict and agrarian reform, arguing that his call for a better distribution of land is part of a more comprehensive politics of common use, which prioritizes the access of all peoples to creation. Whelan’s articles have appeared in the Journal of Moral Theology, Nova et Vetera, Crosscurrents, Biodiversity and Conservation, and Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. He holds degrees from the University of Virginia (BA), Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (MSc), and Duke University (MTS, PhD). At present, he resides in Waco, Texas, with his wife, Natalie, along with their three daughters, Chora, Edith, and Simone.


Rev. Robert S. Pelton, C.S.C. Memorial Essay Contest

The Rev. Robert Pelton Memorial Essay Contest honors the legacy of the late Fr. Bob Pelton, missionary priest, founder of Latin American North American Church Concerns (LANACC), and tireless advocate of Saint Archbishop Óscar Romero and the principles of social justice and Church renewal. The essays should treat some aspect of the Catholic Church of Latin America and/or ecclesial collaboration between North and South. Essays on Latino Catholicism are also welcome. They must be original essays that were written in the last three years, but they need not be essays written for a specific class. There is no limit to the length, but awards will generally be given to essays that are at least five pages in length. Participants may not submit to more than one category.


Undergraduate Contest:
1st place: $500
Runners-up: 2 awards of $100

Graduate Student Contest:
One award of $150

Alumni Contest:
One award of $150

To be considered for the 2020 awards, essays must be submitted online by 11:59pm on March 6, 2020.
Awards will be presented at the Romero Days 2020 conference on Tuesday, March 24.

For more information, please contact Lupe Ramírez.

This contest is organized by the Latin American North American Church Concerns (LANACC) program and is co-sponsored by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and The Center for Social Concerns.

Undergraduate and graduate students in all programs at Notre Dame are invited to submit a paper proposal for the Romero Days 2020 conference. Proposed papers must address either Romero or Catholic Social Teaching, with a strong preference for works that address both. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following: analyses of aspects of Romero’s life or writings in light of Catholic Social Teaching; explorations of Romero’s use of Catholic Social Teaching; productive applications of Catholic Social Teaching to concrete situations locally, nationally, or globally, whether in the past or present; theoretical engagements with the logic and coherence of Catholic Social Teaching as a whole or particular ideas within it; interdisciplinary work on Catholic Social Teaching and/or the life of Romero.

  • Proposal length: your proposal should be no more than 300 words in length. It should clearly detail the contribution of the paper to an important field of study as well as how the paper fits within the Romero Days 2020 conference theme of “Oscar Romero and Catholic Social Teaching.”
  • Deadline for Submission: Dec 1, 2019; you will be notified by email regarding whether or not the paper was accepted by Dec 15.
  • Papers will be presented during the Romero Days 2020 Conference on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

If you have any questions regarding your proposal or proposal process, please contact Todd Walatka (




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