El Salvador Martyrs Still Have Lessons to Teach

IMG_0423_0Milwaukee, WI —  Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, along with Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and lay missioner Jean Donovan, still hold sway and influence over the lives of young people, and lessons to teach them about a life lived sacrificially for others.

About 40 students gathered at Marquette University on December 2, 2014, for “Bearing Witness to Truth: Remembering the Martyrs of El Salvador,” a prayer service honoring the four women, slain in the course of working among the poor in war-torn El Salvador in 1980. The service was the final event of “Remembering the Martyrs of the University of Central America,” a semester-long commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the University of Central America martyrs.

“The most riveting part of the service came after [Sister] Ita Ford’s letter to her niece was read,” said Terry Miller, director of the University’s Office of International Education, who offered the opening prayer at the gathering. “There were individual reflections by all attending, represented by picking up river stones and placing them in a communal bowl.” The reflections centered around the recent pilgrimage to El Salvador from November 12-17, 2014, by 34 members of the University faculty, staff and students; the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, held November 15-17, 2014, in Washington, DC, (13 students and staff attended): and the School of the Americas Watch protest, held November 21-23 at Fort Benning, GA (10 students and staff), as well as five Maryknoll Sisters.

The pilgrimage included a stop at Maryknoll’s parish in San Ramon, where the delegation heard testimony from the Christina Base Community members, where they acknowledged the importance of Maryknoll Fathers/Brothers, Sisters and Lay missioners in a shared facilitation of the parish fostering a robust Christian Base Community (CBC) infrastructure. On the wall of the CBC is a vibrant wall mural of the four Churchwomen who are still fondly remembered for their lasting legacy and commitment to the economically poor of El Salvador.