Press Release

Honoring the legacy of Archbishop Óscar Romero

August 16, 2017

Since 1987, the nonprofit has selected unsung heroes from around the globe to receive human rights awards in honor of Romero, recognizing these individuals for courageous, grassroots human rights advocacy.

 Building upon the Rothko Chapel’s 2017 Spring Symposium on ending mass incarceration, on November 12, the Chapel will honor and award two individuals who are leading criminal justice reform efforts both locally and internationally.  

 Romero was assassinated in 1980 for championing the rights of the poor and fighting unjust government tactics in El Salvador, including torture and assassination.

 This year’s award ceremony comes at a unique time, as Archbishop Romero is currently being considered by the Catholic Church for canonization as a saint. Romero was beatified – the final step before sainthood – with a service in El Salvador in 2015.

 This year also marks the centennial of Romero’s birth.

 The celebration of Romero’s life and legacy, along with the continued momentum toward sainthood, are a powerful reminder of the importance of social justice today.  


WHAT: The 2017 Óscar Romero Award ceremony, followed by a public reception. Building on the Chapel’s recent efforts to address the topic of criminal justice, this year’s awardees are two individuals working toward criminal justice reform.  A Keynote address will be given by Rodney Ellis, Harris County Commissioner for Precinct One.

WHO: This year’s international award will go to Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, executive director of Association pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenues (Association for the Protection of Prisoners and Human Rights – APRODH) in Burundi. Under his leadership, the organization documents and reports on human rights violations -- with an emphasis on those committed against incarcerated people. He continues to denounce human rights violations and the harassment of human rights defenders.


This year’s local awardee is Houston-based recovery coach and peer-to-peer counselor Kathryn Griffin Griñán, who advocates for rehabilitation funding instead of incarceration in Congress, the Texas Legislature and the Harris County Commissioners' Court and administers a re-entry program in the Harris County Sheriff's Office jail, rehabilitating victims of human trafficking and prostitution.

WHEN: 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12.

WHERE: The Rothko Chapel, 3900 Yupon St., Houston, TX

WHO: Open to the public.

REGISTRATION:  To register, and for more information, visit or call 713-524-9839.


About the Rothko Chapel

The Rothko Chapel is open to the public every day of the year at no charge and successfully interconnects art, spirituality and compassionate action through a broad array of free public programs. Founded by Houston philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil, the Chapel was dedicated in 1971 as an intimate sanctuary. Today it stands as a monument to art, spirituality and human rights. As an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, the Chapel depends on contributions from foundations and individuals to support its mission of creating a space for contemplation and dialogue on important issues.

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