BY CHRIS KERR | December 2, 2011
Today marks the 31st anniversary of the loss of four courageous women – Sr. Maura Clarke M.M., Jean Donovan, Sr. Ita Ford, M.M., and Sr. Dorothy Kazel, O.S.U. who were murdered in El Salvador on December 2, 1980, while serving as missionaries during a very tumultuous period in the history of the Americas.
Without too much research one can find that the churchwomen were greatly impacted by their time in El Salvador. Each of them, in their own manner reflected on the challenging situation around them but more importantly the power of the relationships they developed with the people to whom they ministered. This power was grounded in their belief that God was present in their Salvadoran brother and sister. And it was this belief that kept them in El Salvador even when it became very clear that they were living in grave danger.
I would invite you to reflect on two often published quotations by Jean and Sr. Ita below.
If you feel moved, feel free to share how these quotations resonate in your own life. Do they spark a memory of an experience you have had with the economically poor or the marginalized that has impacted you?
“Several times I have decided to leave El Salvador. I almost could except for the children, the poor bruised victims of this insanity. Who would care for them? Whose heart could be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and loneliness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.” –Jean Donovan
“I hope you can come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you, something that energizes you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead.” -Ita Ford in a letter to her sixteen year old niece
Chris joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) as executive director in 2011. He has over fifteen years of experience in social justice advocacy and leadership in Catholic education and ministry. Prior to ISN he served in multiple roles at John Carroll University, including coordinating international immersion experience and social justice education programming as an inaugural co-director of John Carroll’s Arrupe Scholars Program for Social Action. Prior to his time at John Carroll he served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and secondary levels in Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Chris speaks regularly at campuses and parishes about social justice education and advocacy, Jesuit mission, and a broad range of social justice issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). Chris earned a B.A. and M.A. from John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He and his family reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.