The SHARE Blog

A Trip to Remember

August 27, 2015

Roberto with his relatives

Roberto with his relatives

God truly has a plan for everyone, and I came to realize that through my experience this summer. My name is Roberto Melgar and I am currently a junior in high school, and this summer I was given the most amazing opportunity of my life. This summer Good Shepard Parish gave me a chance to go on a mission trip to a little small country in Central America. Funny enough, that country just happen to be El Salvador, the country where my parents migrated from almost eighteen years ago. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go and discover the land where my parents grew up and where most of my family lives. To make things even more interesting, I found out about the mission trip through a celebration of Monsenor Romero! Having been recently beatified, it seemed like the first of many miracles to come from Blessed Romero.

Nothing feels as good as a warm and loving welcome from your family when you first arrive, and I must say that applies to all the people of El Salvador. El Salvador has some of the most loving, passionate, hard-working, and caring people in the world. I was able to stay two weeks and every minute that I spent there felt like I was right at home. Words can’t even describe the feelings I had through the many encounters with the people from our sister community, the government officials, and survivors of the tragic civil war. My time there was well spent; we visited many museums and historical areas, which increased my overall knowledge of what the Salvadorian people have gone through. This country has suffered too much and continues to suffer, but they continue to push through odds, and that is just so inspiring. Sure there is violence and poverty, BUT there also is much love, support, passion, and solidarity, that it’s hard not to fall in love with the people and the country.

I strongly felt a connection to the people and their suffering. I felt like this country, this small little place, was my home. It still boggles my mind just thinking how my life could have been so different had my parents not migrated to the states. It is still difficult to describe what I felt those moments that I spent with my family who I got to meet for the first time. All I know for sure is that El Salvador is worth the visit. I’m looking forward to next year’s trip to El Salvador and continuing to work alongside the SHARE Foundation. Please consider visiting this marvelous country. This trip will not only open your eyes, but it will also open your hearts. This truly was a miracle and a part of my plan that God has in store for me. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my story. Thank you to everyone who made this a possibility, I can’t thank you enough.

Roberto_group photo at Perquin

Roberto and delegates at Perquin

Roberto_Monument to Truth & Memory_Youth at Wall

Roberto and fellow delegates at the Monument to Truth and Memory

Roberto_Divina Providencia_Roberto y Grandpa Jose at grotto

Roberto and his Grandpa Jose at the Divina Providencia grotto

Roberto_Cihuatan Ruins_Ryan, Roberto, Libby y Benjamin with morro fruit

Ryan, Roberto, Libby and Benjamin with the morro fruit

Roberto with the soccer group

Roberto with the soccer group


Bio 3 of 4: Jean Donovan

August 25, 2015

jean donovan

Jean Donovan (1953-1980)

Jean Donovan, the youngest of the four church women killed on December 2, 1980, was born on April 10, 1953. She was the younger of two children and raised in an upper middle class family in Westport, Connecticut. Her father, Raymond, was an executive engineer, and later chief of design, at the nearby Sikorsky Aircraft Division of the United Technologies, a large defense contractor for the U.S. and manufacturer of helicopters used in the Vietnam War. Jean was very close to her brother Michael and was deeply affected when he was struck with Hodgkin’s disease, from which he made a complete recovery. The experience of the disease and his courageous battle to conquer it left a strong impression on Jean and, as she said later, gave her a deeper sense of the preciousness of life.

Jean received a Master’s degree in business administration from Case Western Reserve University, then took a job as management consultant for an accounting firm in Cleveland. She was on her way to a successful business career. Not the shy or withdrawn type, Jean was described by friends as outgoing, a “driver,” a “joker,” who often did outrageous things to get attention. Her mother, Patricia, described her as “a gutsy, loving, caring person.” She loved riding her motorcycle and was once known for pouring scotch, her drink of choice, over her cereal in the morning.

Her spirit and generosity drew loyal friends who later were left to grapple with the choices Jean made. But Jean was not content and began a search for some deeper meaning in life. While volunteering in the Cleveland Diocese Youth Ministry with the poor, she heard about the diocesan mission project in El Salvador. It was what she was looking for. Jean attributed her decision to “a gut feeling,” and said “I want to get closer to Him, and that’s the only way I think I can.”

The director of the mission program, Maryknoll Sister Mary Anne O’Donnell, described Jean as intelligent, loving and apostolic and believed that, despite (or because of?) her fun loving, hard living ways, she had the signs of being a good missioner. Jean had also been much affected by time she had spent in Ireland as an exchange student, where a priest who befriended her, Fr. Michael Crowley, a former missionary in Peru, introduced her to a different world, a world of the poor and a life of faith committed to a more radical following of the example of Jesus of Nazareth. Jean was haunted by what she experienced there, and this brought her to question the values of her own life.

After her training, including a stint at Maryknoll, Jean arrived in El Salvador in July 1979, a time when the repression was intensifying and the church had become a major target. She became Caritas coordinator for the diocesan mission program. In addition to keeping the books, she worked in La Libertad with Dorothy Kazel, distributing food for the poor and the refugees and carrying out family education programs. Her mother Patricia said of her work, “Jean took her commitment to the campesinos very seriously. She was strongly motivated by St. Francis of Assisi and by Archbishop Oscar Romero. She translated God’s teachings into clothing for the poor, feeding the hungry, and caring for the wounded refugees mainly children who had lost what little they had…”

As for the people of La Libertad, they loved Jean Donovan and dubbed her, “St. Jean the Playful.”

Jean was very devoted to Msgr. Romero, often coming to the cathedral on Sundays to hear his homilies which at that time were the only source of news and truth left in El Salvador. After his assassination, Jean and Dorothy were among those who took turns keeping vigil at his coffin. And they were present in the cathedral when the overflow crowd in the plaza attending his funeral on March 30, 1980, was attacked by security forces, resulting in a panicked stampede. The massacre left 44 dead and hundreds of wounded. As Jean sat crowded among the desperate people who fled into the cathedral for safety, she fully believed that she might die that day. The repression touched her in other very personal ways. Friends were killed by death squads. She witnessed one such killing. In the fall of 1980 Jean took a break from this tense reality to attend the wedding of a friend in Ireland. There she was reunited for a time with her fiancé, Dr. Douglas Cable. Many of her friends tried to persuade her to leave El Salvador, but she comforted them with the quip, “They don’t kill blond-haired, blue-eyed North Americans.”

In fact, she and Dorothy often used their very visible presence to accompany people in danger, or to get supplies into areas not accessible to others. They became a well-known sight, driving along the countryside in their mission van. As the violence engulfed the country, Jean felt the personal challenge of trying to cope, to understand what was happening. It tested her faith. “I think that the hardship one endures maybe is God’s way of taking you out into the desert and to prepare you to meet and love him more fully.” And while she had been a loyal patriotic Republican, she also saw the direct connection between the violence in El Salvador and the policies of the U.S. Ronald Reagan won the presidential election in November 1980 promising a strong stand against “Communism.” The Salvadoran government got the message. Wrote Patricia, “Things grew progressively worse in El Salvador after the United States election…The military believed they were given a blank check no restrictions. In light of what happened, who’s to say they weren’t? Jean had told us that she feared there would be a bloodbath in El Salvador.”

Two weeks before she was murdered, with the bloodbath already begun, she wrote to a friend in Connecticut: “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 would be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and helplessness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.” For the family of Jean Donovan, her death was an indescribable blow. When she had first told them she was going to El Salvador, they had to pull out a map to find out where it was. Now they had lost their only daughter in this tiny country that had become a major focus of U.S. foreign policy.

But Jean’s death was not the only blow; following her death they had to deal with what for them became the betrayal by the very government they thought embodied values of justice and political good. As they approached the State Department for information, they were treated coolly, then with hostility. Eventually they were told to stop bothering State Department officials. In April 1981, at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, all but one Republican Senator left the room when Michael appeared to testify. The final insult came when the Donovans received a bill from the State Department for $3,500 for the return of Jean’s body to the U.S. The scandal of the way the U.S. government treated this case, including Reagan administration officials accusing the women of “running a roadblock,” of engaging in “an exchange of fire,” of being “not just nuns…but political activists,” enraged the Donovans and other families of the women.

As levels of U.S. military aid escalated, Jean’s mother wrote, “Jean deserves, at the very least, that her native land not reward her killers.” The head of the National Guard, whose troops were responsible for the murders, Gen. Eugenio Vides Casanova, went on to become Minister of Defense under the “democratic” government of José Napoleon Duarte (1984-89).

Jean’s time in El Salvador led her to those fundamental challenges of the meaning of life, of faith, in a world torn by injustice and violence against the poorest, the most vulnerable.

It was a personal challenge. “I’m 26 years old. I should be married. I shouldn’t be running around doing all of these things. But then I think, I’ve got so many things I want to do. It’s hard when I see my friends getting married and having babies, that’s something I’ve thought about…am I ever going to have kids? Sometimes I wonder if I’m denying that to myself. I really don’t want to, but that’s maybe what I’m doing. And then I sit there and talk to God and say, why are you doing this to me? Why can’t I just be your little suburban housewife? He hasn’t answered yet.”


Root Causes of Migration and the Plan for Prosperity

Dear SHARE family,

I just returned from Honduras and Guatemala with a delegation of 16 religious leaders and immigrant advocates to learn about the root causes of migration. Our delegation was especially surprised to learn about the U.S. Plan for Prosperity proposed by the Obama Administration and invite you to follow its developments. I want to share this piece written by Bill Mefford of the United Methodist Church that explains more about it. Click here for more information on the findings of our delegation.

Jose Artiga
SHARE Executive Director


Plan for Prosperity
by Bill Mefford

On an interfaith trip to Honduras and Guatemala led by the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity that included religious leaders from across the United States, we learned that violence pervades much of the region and often is so daunting that Hondurans and Guatemalans find it challenging, though not impossible, to dream of a country where all have opportunities for success. We learned that much of the violence that has caused thousands of migrants to flee to the North is imported from the North; and oftentimes, specifically the United States. To that end, we heard one consistent message throughout our journey: the Plan for Prosperity put forward by the Obama Administration is a plan to prosper a few at the expense of the many and will do nothing to create a more safe and secure Honduras and Guatemala.

In March of this year Vice-President Biden traveled to the region to meet with leaders of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to “discuss steps to stimulate economic growth, reduce inequality, promote educational opportunities, target criminal networks responsible for human trafficking, and help create governance and institutions that are transparent and accountable.” That certainly sounds good, but the brave faith leaders we met with are not just skeptical about the effective implementation of the plan; they are convinced it simply will not benefit the families that have been decimated by internal rural to urban migration and the lack of employment in cities that then causes family members of all ages – including small children – to begin the long and extremely dangerous journey to the North.

The Plan for Prosperity proposes a number of steps to reign in corruption in the countries that make up the Northern Triangle. Amazingly, the United States believes that some of the very leaders who are committing corruption are going to commit to stopping the same actions that have benefitted and kept them affluent and in power. The real hope against corruption lies in the voices of the people. One night, while in Honduras, we were able to march in solidarity with Los Indignados: a grassroots movement of thousands of people across Honduras committed to stamping out the corruption that has prospered so few and angered so many.

Unfortunately, the Plan for Prosperity does nothing about land reform, something we heard consistently from faith leaders that is key for true prosperity to be realized in these largely agricultural countries. How could a plan designed to strengthen weakened economies that are so dependent on agriculture fail to mention the need for greater ownership of the land by the people who work the land? Could it be that ensuring more citizens in the Northern Triangle have land of their own on which to farm and make a living would take away from the extractive industries – industries from countries like the United States, Canada and China, for example – and their brutal domination of this region? Tragically, people are literally dying to save their land from extractive industries that are displacing families and stealing the natural resources that belong to the people of these countries.

Even worse, the Plan for Prosperity will only increase the violence in this region and benefit greedy US defense contractors. Perhaps the worst step of the plan is to increase the number of police, specifically in Honduras, to 6,000, while also militarizing them, of course, with the latest gear from US defense contractors. Some of the people we heard from in Honduras are obviously concerned about militarizing and increasing the number of police when there is unrest over corruption and the police may continue to be used to protect the powerful interests – interests which are fused between Honduran elites and US economic and military interests – at the expense of the millions who are forced to live under the greatest threat of violence: extreme poverty.

In the end, we learned that the Plan for Prosperity should be named the Plan for US Prosperity. It is an intentional strategy intent on creating even more prosperity for the very few affluent of the Northern Triangle whose livelihood is united with the political and economic interests of the United States. The people of Central America we talked with do not want the Plan for US Prosperity. They do have dreams of justice and equality shared by all of the citizens of their countries though! Their dreams are focused not on securing the prosperity of foreign countries or mining companies or multinational corporations. They want honest leadership, health and education infrastructures that work effectively, police that do not abuse their power, and access to land so that all people have the same opportunities for success. Thus, we would do well to scrap the Plan for US Prosperity and do more listening to the people of Central America.

Reflections from the 20th Anniversary Remembering the Churchwomen Delegation

August 20, 2015

In December 2000, in commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the death of the four churchwomen, I traveled to El Salvador on an immersion trip sponsored by SHARE in collaboration with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. I had been involved over many years in prayer vigils every December 2 in San Francisco and protests over the US involvement in the war.

We visited many of the same places that the 2015 trip may experience: Chapel de la Divina Providencia, University of Central America, San Salvador Cathedral, La Libertad, Tecoluca, San Vicente Guajoyo, place of their death, the US Embassy, and many more.Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean

Being with the people, learning from them, experiencing their deep faith and great generosity, observing the poverty and oppression, and sharing their hopes and dreams impacted my worldview and my deepening spirituality.

Three particular experiences will never leave me:

  • The first was listening to a homily given by a catechist, holding a piece of shrapnel from a US bomb and speaking of the loss of family members and his deep faith.
  • The second was listening to three women who had been combatants in the war and their asking forgiveness over the death of the four women. We, weeping with them, were grateful that one of the LCWR members prayed for forgiveness for the devastation and death brought by our government.
  • The third was witnessing the resilience and strength of the people after flooding of the River Lempa and burning of their fields and crops during the war.

Closing with a press conference with the agricultural union gave us hope.

I continue to pray for, work with, and support the people of El Salvador to deal with ever increasing violence, plight of refugees and immigration reform in the US.

– Marilyn Wilson, BVM

Join us for our upcoming 35th anniversary delegation celebrating the lives of Ita, Maura, Dorothy, and Jean.

Autobiography of Víctor Andaluz, SHARE’s Grassroots Program Coordinator

July 31, 2015

Victor head shotMy name is Victor Manuel Andaluz. I was born on December 16, 1988 (December 26 in legal documents–long story), in a small village called Los Amates in the municipality of San Juan Opico, Department of La Libertad in the Southwest part of El Salvador and Northwest of San Salvador. Physically, I am small in comparison to the average Salvadoran, but have a big heart full of humbleness and love to share with others. I also belong an extended and humble family. I am the 11th of 12 siblings. My family is composed as follows: Maria and José, my parents, Rosa, Julia, Silvia, Jaime, Sarah, Yanira, María Elena, Miguel, José Esteban, Jorge, and Juan Carlos. I am in between my brother Jorge who is 2 years older and Juan Carlos who is 5 years younger than me.

Me, when I was 3 months old

Me, when I was 3 months old

As a family, our relationships were not as close as other families. But, why? I grew up with the need of affection, conversation, and attention from my father–which I believe is why my older siblings bugged me anytime they could since all of us had the same need. Being a farmer, my father had to spend a lot of time out of the house–including at night, and as is typical in my society, my mother was in charge of doing chores at home and taking care of us. Due to the evident need of economic resources and after the Peace Accords, three of my older sisters (Julia, Silvia, and Sara) had to look for jobs in San Salvador. Fortunately, they became babysitters which helped provide us with food, clothing, and education for me and my three brothers.

Me in grade 5

Me in grade 5

Me in grade 3

Me in grade 3

My father is originally from Santa Ana, near the border with Guatemala, and my mother is originally from La Libertad, specifically from Quezaltepeque. They got married in 1970, so they have been married for over 45 years now, which makes me very happy and proud. However, I consider my childhood to have been without good memories, except for New Year’s Eve when traditionally all of the family gathered to celebrate the New Year together. Sometimes I felt abandoned and would leave home to look for company among my friends in the village. I am thankful that I never took up any risky behaviors like smoking, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, or even joining gangs.

Going to school always made me feel motivated. I remember that I used to ask my mom to take me to school with my other brothers. So, I started my education at a very young age, when I was 3. By that time, the Ministry of Education did not even consider preschool as part of the curricula in schools. The school where I studied was small and consequently not very important for the Ministry. Despite this, I learned to read when I was 5 and to write very well when I was 6. I formally studied there from grade 1-3 because they only taught those levels. Then, I had to go to a different school 2 kilometers away from my house. To get there, I had to walk for about 45 minutes up and down hills. In this school I studied for 2 years (grades 4-5) until 2001. My father had a loan that had increased in interest and by this time it had already doubled. Unfortunately, my father has been an alcoholic since the civil war. Half of the loans he received he spent on alcohol. When the bank notified him that the house was going to be seized, he put it up for sale. When it sold, you can guess what happened with part of the money. We became homeless.

This same year, the country suffered two earthquakes. Many families lost their homes and started holding meetings to decide what to do. My father attended, which is how we decided to move with about 70 families from the village of Los Amates to Puerto de La Libertad. In this municipality there is an area that apparently is protected by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. The families worked to clear spaces where they were going to live. We coexisted with wild animals like dangerous snakes, prairie wolves, and many mosquitos at night. All of the families were living with no access to clean water, electricity, or adequate housing. Moreover, we faced difficulties to go to school since the year had already started in January. My mother went to talk with the principal of a school nearby and explained the situation. Fortunately, they agreed that my younger brother and I could study there. Once again, we had to walk around 45 minutes through unknown streets and neighborhoods. It was there that I studied from grade 6 to grade 9.

Me and a group of volunteers with CIS

Me and a group of volunteers with CIS

In 2002, when I was in grade 7, one of the Deputies of the FMLN–Irma Amaya, connected CIS (Center for Exchange and Solidarity) with my community which brought a delegation from Canada. Foundation ARCOIRIS, through CIS, sponsored a project for drilling a well so that the community could have clean water. From then on, they sponsored children at the community and for 3 years they sent school supplies for the students. By that time, I was the only one who was in a higher level of education–grade 7. They wanted the students to not only get excellent scores, but also to become community leaders who would help in its development. I was always at the top of my class. After graduating from grade 9, and because of my excellent scores, they decided to continue supporting my high school studies. My favorite period of being a student was when I was in high school due to the fact that I got a lot of awards. First, I got a scholarship to study English for four hours every Saturday for four years. When I graduated, I was number 3 among 500 graduates. CIS was amazed by my results and decided to sponsor my education at the University of El Salvador in 2008. I applied to study a Major in English Language for Teaching and I graduated last December.

Me and my peers after our graduation ceremony

Me and my peers after our graduation ceremony

In terms of my work experience, during my time at the University, when I was in second year, I started working at a private school teaching English to students from 4-15 years old. I did that because I needed more income. The money I got from the scholarship was not enough to cover all my expenses at the University so I had to work. It was very worthwhile because in the end it gave me experience that is required when applying for other jobs. I also volunteered at CIS in its English School for a year in 2011. In 2012, I decided to do my social work at the same English School the whole year.

In September that year, I knew about the job opportunity as English School Coordinator that was being offered by CIS. I applied and I was hired to start in January of 2013. I worked there for two years. Last year, in March I got a loan to buy my house and start being more independent. As a requirement of my program, my thesis had to be written in English. In mid-July, I defended it in English as well. At the end of July, I married Claribel Ventura. So, 2014 was a really amazing year for me.

Me, my wife, and my colleagues after our wedding

Me, my wife, and my colleagues after our wedding

And last but not least, this year my wife gave birth to our first baby, Santiago Alejandro. He is such a cute baby and is one of most loved people I have in my life. Because of him, I had to look for other job opportunities with better benefits. I did not want to work in a place where I was going to do things I didn’t like. I like working with people, and seeing their achievements makes me happy. Finally, that is how I got to SHARE as the Grassroots Coordinator. I am happy to be here and joyful to do what I am doing. I feel blessed for having such good colleagues. I am really thankful to have this opportunity to be part of the SHARE family. And for the ones who took the time to read this piece of my life, I would like to be part of your family, too.

My 3 month old son Santiago Alejandro

My 3 month old son Santiago Alejandro

The Power of Accompaniment- Insights from a PhD Anthropology Student


Written by Gary Abarca, PhD Anthropology Student

As a social anthropologist with a focus on emotional wellbeing I am interested in the ways people from impoverished urban communities navigate the lack of proper mental health care in their cities. More importantly, I am interested in how these people organize themselves to innovative ways to heal despite the lack of mental health care. Thus throughout my research I have explored creative and emerging therapeutic relationships, ones that are not based or necessarily dependent on professional or clinical expertise. I have had the greatest fortune in working with a community health organization in the greater Los Angeles area in the U.S beginning in August 2014. This organization is dedicated, among other things, to addressing the health care deficits that Latina/o families struggle with, including undocumented people. This has been an enormous task for them and has necessitated community organizing and advocacy. I say “fortune” because I have met some of the most amazing people fighting for healthcare, a special group of Latina/os from the community called “promotora de salud,” or community health workers. Since they are very much a part of the community they serve, they have a deeply intimate and embodied understanding of the struggles faced everyday by the community. These promotoras, generally, do not have a formal professional education. Yet their efforts offer an alternative to the work of public health experts since the health education and prevention projects they create develop out of their community expertise.

Read More »

Why I’m Coming to El Salvador

July 30, 2015

My wife Mary Alice and I are coming on this pilgrimage to venerate a martyr and undeclared saint, Maura Clarke, MM. I’m coming in the hope of drawing courage from her strength.

I knew Maura back in the late 1970s when we were both members of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Boston–she dedicated, and I uncertain, a conservative trying to think liberally, as I often defined myself.

I didn’t know her well in the sense that we had had long talks together, or that I had invited her to have dinner with the family. But one didn’t have to know her intimately; the smile told you everything. She was genuinely joyous, gentle and affirming–a conciliator when, not infrequently, there were divisive issues being discussed. She listened well, spoke with reason, and always sought to bring peace and good will back to the group while advancing the cause from discussion to action.

She had recently spent time in Nicaragua and looked with hope to the Sandinistas to govern with justice. She wanted to protest the American government’s support of the military there and either organized or joined a protest march around the John F. Kennedy Federal Building in downtown Boston. She asked me to join her since I worked downtown. I hoped so much she wouldn’t ask me.

But on my lunch hour, I went with my white shirt, conservative tie and pin stripe suit and marched with others around the main entrance of the building while security guards and plain-clothed men photographed the participants. It would be more apt to say that I “slinked,” trying to hide my 6’1” frame. It wasn’t my first, nor certainly my last, protest march or vigil. But it is still outside my comfort zone.

And that is why I go…to pray for courage.

-Vincent Stanton, delegate joining us for our December 2nd delegation celebrating the lives of Ita, Maura, Dorothy, and Jean

Bio 2 of 4: Sister Ita Ford

July 17, 2015

Four Churchwomen- Ita

Sister Ita Ford (1940-1980)

Ita Ford was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 23,1940. She joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1961 after graduating from Marymount Manhattan College. Only three years later, health problems forced her to leave. After working as an editor for a publishing company for seven years, Ita re-applied and was once again accepted to the Maryknolls.

In 1973, Ita was assigned to Chile where she joined Carla Piette in a poor neighborhood called La Bandera. After only one year, the U.S. sponsored a coup that overthrew democratically elected Allende and began the military dictatorship of Pinoche under which Ita and Carla lived for years.

Thousands of people who were suspected opponents of the government were tortured, imprisoned, killed, and disappeared. In 1977, Ita wondered, “Am I willing to suffer with the people here…? Can I say to my neighbors – I have no solutions to this situation; I don’t know the answers, but I will walk with you, search with you, be with you.”

Ita left Chile for a year back at Maryknoll. A friend described her to be “like a seething volcano.” She was angry with the injustice and, as a friend of hers described, felt that “The world had people in it who were beating up the poor she loved; the world had millions of other people who were closing their eyes and stopping their ears to keep from being aware of the slaughter going on.”

Even in the midst of her anguish, Ita’s vivaciousness and generosity remained her most prominent characteristics. Her Maryknoll friends explained that “Ita’s buoyant personality, her wit, her sense of humor and fun were striking contrast to the suffering and pain she experienced throughout her life. Her twinkling eyes and elfin grin would surface irrepressibly even in the midst of poverty and sorrow.”

In 1980, after hearing the sermons of Archbishop Romero, Ita and Carla embarked on a new mission to El Salvador. They arrived shortly after he was assassinated on March 24.

That June, Ita and Carla began working with the Emergency Refugee Committee in Chalatenango where they saw first-hand the Salvadoran reality of homelessness, persecution, repression, and violence of the ruthless military dictatorship. In a letter to Maryknoll President Melinda Roper, the two expressed concern that the US government would soon be taking decisive action “under the guise of ‘stopping communism’…” They also proclaimed that “…if we have a preferential option for the poor as well as a commitment for justice as a basis for the coming of the Kingdom, we’re going to have to take sides in El Salvador – correction – we have.”

On August 23, the two sisters went in their jeep to take a political prisoner home – something they often did for people whose lives were in danger. On the way back, they were caught in a flash flood while crossing a river. Carla pushed Ita out the window. While being carried down the river by raging waters, Ita was sure she had met her fate. But finally, she caught hold of a branch and pulled herself to the river bank.

Carla’s body was found the next morning. For Ita, losing her dearest friend had a profound impact and made her question why she had been spared.

Following Carla’s death, Sr. Maura Clarke became Ita’s new partner in Chalatenango. She described Ita as “a powerful example.” Having a new partner aided in Ita’s recovery. Her friends noticed her old spirit starting to return after an assembly of Maryknoll Sisters over Thanksgiving weekend. At the closing liturgy, Ita read a passage from one of Romero’s final homilies: “Christ invites us not to fear persecution because, believe me, brothers and sisters, the one who is committed to the poor must run the same fate as the poor, and in El Salvador we know what the fate of the poor signifies: to disappear, be tortured, to be held captive – and to be found dead.”

The following day, December 2, 1980, she and Maura boarded a plane to return to El Salvador where Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan picked them up. On their way back from the airport, the four women were abducted and brutally killed by National Guardsmen. Continuing with the Maryknoll tradition, Ita and Maura were buried locally in Chalatenango.

Before her death, at the end of a birthday letter to her niece Jennifer, Ita wrote: “… 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. I can’t tell you what it might be.  That’s for you to find, to choose, to love.  I can just encourage you to start looking and support you in your search.”

Volunteer with Us!

July 16, 2015

SHARE is seeking a volunteer for its El Salvador Office for the position of Communications and Technology Coordinator. The position requires a strong commitment as well as full participation in all SHARE activities so that they can be recorded and then transmitted in the social media, web page, and blog to our partners in the United States.


  1. Commitment to mission and vision of SHARE, and to struggles for social and economic justice.
  2. Four month to one-year minimum commitment required. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. Must attend orientation/training in El Salvador.
  3. The applicant must be bilingual. Must possess the ability to interpret/translate Spanish-English and English-Spanish. International experience preferred.
  4. Capacity and interest in working with groups of varied backgrounds and ages.
  5. Capacity for political and program analysis and attention to detail.
  6. Ability to work both independently and as a team.
  7. Open-minded, leader, responsible, punctual.

Julie LavenBenefits:

  • To learn from the ample experience of SHARE.
  • The opportunity to live with a Salvadoran family.
  • Immersion in Salvadoran culture.
  • The opportunity to visit rural communities, stay there for at least two days sometimes, and experience first-hand how they live and survive.
  • To be able to learn the history of the country.
  • Job opportunities with SHARE and/or sister organizations; plus letters of recommendation to graduate program and/or other jobs at the end of the volunteer term if requested.

Click here to learn more.



CRIPDES Celebrates a New Board

June 24, 2015

Last Saturday, June 13th, SHARE’s partner organization CRIPDES celebrated their 10th General Assembly to welcome new board members.

The activity started with breakfast and popular music performed by a group from El Barío village in Suchitoto.

CRIPDES board 1


Current CRIPDES Board members arrived and sat at the table of honor as part of their last activity celebrated as a board. Marcos Galvez, CRIPDES President thanked all of the present people in the activity .

After lunch, the voting process started to elect the new board.

CRIPDES board 3

Finally, the new board of CRIPDES was established as follows:

  • President – Bernardo Belloso from CRIPDES San Vicente region.
  • Vice President – Miriam from CCR region.
  • Claudia Castro from UCRES region.
  • Osmin Salinas from UCRES region.
  • Maribel Moya from CRIPDES Sur of La Libertad region.
  • Erika Murcia from CRIPDES San Vicente region.
  • Otilio Serrano from CCR region.

All the new board members were recognized by the current board and assembly members. At the end, they shared a cake for celebrating all of the anniversaries of the regions and most importantly, to celebrate 31 years of CRIPDES in the accompaniment for the Salvadoran people in their struggles for justice.

Congratulations to the New CRIPDES Board members. Keep working hard!

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