Churchwomen of El Salvador

BY CHRIS KERRDecember 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

1 reply
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    joycets684 says:

    Dear friends, I feel a closeness to these martyrs because of a book I found about Dorothy Kazel. I went to the church she first taught at for my first communion and confirmation. I am not sure if she was a nun there, I Think so. She worked at a store my mother and I shopped at in Euclid. It turns out she was also a graduate student at John Carroll University when I was a freshman. My mother had a student desk chair from a school that I believe was bought at a closed high school in Cleveland that Dorothy Kazel worked at, and so I donated this to the Dorothy Kazel room at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike Ohio. I have been inspired by her story and that of all these women.

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