We Commit This Day: Remembering the Jesuits and Their Companions

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Robyn Caponi, a member of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, leads a crowd of over 1,700, in a litany remember Jesuit martyrs of the 20th and 21st century who have died while working for justice. Also remembered were Elba and Celina Ramos, killed with the Jesuits in El Salvador in 1989, and the four U.S. Churchwomen killed on December 2, 1980.

BY CHRIS KERRNovember 16, 2015

Today marks 26 years since the Jesuits, their housekeeper Elba Ramos, and her 15-year-old daughter Celina Ramos, were murdered at the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Early in the morning on November 16, 1989, they joined 70,000 innocent civilians killed during the country’s 12-year civil war. Sadly, for those of us in the U.S., we were complicit in this violence. Our country gave nearly $1 million dollars a day in military aid to El Salvador’s government during the civil war and trained hundreds of Salvadoran soldiers and officers at institutes like the former School of the Americas.

As we remember this violent anniversary, we are surrounded with senseless violence around the world today as well.  We see this reality in the victims of terrorism in places like Beirut, Iraq, and Paris, the deaths of Syrian refugees in box trucks and on beaches, and in our own country where mass shootings and violent acts of racism have become far too common.

We offer this prayer written by Nick Liao, ISN’s director of communications and development:

We Commit This Day

Merciful God, we confess that we don’t know how to pray. There is so much darkness in our world.

We pray for the victims of the attacks in France, for the family members, that you would be present to them in their grief. Bring healing and peace to that country, even as it struggles to comprehend the mystery of evil in the world.

We pray that we would not be selective in our grief and outrage. Help us also to remember the 147 victims of the attacks at Garissa University in Kenya, the more than 4 million people who have fled Syria due to civil war, and the victims of countless other attacks in Africa and the Middle East.

We pray that your justice would be done. But in doing so, we also realize that we are implicated in the world’s violence. In our response to this tragedy, we pray that we would not be controlled by fear and revenge.

Teach us instead to be your people who live in the hope of resurrection; people marked by patient, nonviolent love. People like the Jesuit martyrs, their housekeeper, and her daughter, people who died in service to others.  Today we remember their faithful witness in the face of death.  Teach us to be more like them.

Help us, like them, to live in solidarity with those who are in need of support, including our Muslim brothers and sisters around the world who share our dreams of a more just world.

We commit this day of work to you, asking that you would help us be mindful of all these things.

Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., Pray for Us.
Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J., Pray for Us.
Segundo Montes, S.J., Pray for Us.
Juan Ramón Moreno, S.J., Pray for Us.
Joaquín López y López, S.J., Pray for Us.
Amando López, S.J., Pray for Us.
Elba Ramos, Pray for Us.
Celina Ramos, Pray for Us.

Amen.

 

Fr. Ellacuria was once quoted as saying:

“We are people of the Gospel, a gospel that proclaims the reign of God, and that calls us to try to transform this earth into as close a likeness of that reign as possible.”

Just like the martyrs, we are invited to answer this call — to transform our world to one where peace, justice, and solidarity reign.

Join me in this call by taking time today to remember the martyrs of El Salvador and pray for peace in our world.

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Christopher Kerr

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.

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