Posts Tagged ‘Churchwomen’

Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sr. Maura

October 26, 2016

We are excited to share with you a new book about the life and assassination of Sr. Maura Clarke, one of the churchwomen killed in El Salvador in 1980. Written by Eileen Markey, a delegate on our 2015 Remembering the Churchwomen delegation, Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sr. Maura explores not her murder, but her life and influences.

radicalfaithAs Eileen describes:

“This book traces not Maura’s murder but her life, asking how a beloved daughter from Queens, NY became a victim of the Cold War in a country far from home. In examining the forces that shaped Maura’s life, I was able to look closely at the inheritance of Irish nationalism, the immigrant experience in New York, the Cold War, the adaptations of the Catholic Church at Vatican II and the social and political movements that convulsed Central America in the 1970s and 1980s. Maura was shaped by each of these and is remembered with pride and affection by those who knew and worked with her–especially in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Her story continues to be relevant as the crimes of the 1980s in Central America begin to be prosecuted, the fall-out of those wars continue to reverberate in current immigration patterns, as Americans continue to grapple with the role of faith in public life and as we all negotiate a world of distraction and fear. Maura paid attention. She sincerely followed the very radical commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. I’ve tried to tell her story fully, with nuance and care so that this icon some of us know from prayer cards becomes a real woman again.”

The book may be ordered on Amazon or Indiebound.

Help spread the word about the book and Maura’s life by posting about the book on social media, asking your local bookstore to host a reading, teaching about it in college courses, or inviting Eileen to speak to your book club, school, parish study group, congregation, or organization. Download the book’s press release for contact information and to learn more.

 

 

 


Delegate Spotlight: Mary Louise

April 1, 2016

Our blog series, Delegate Spotlight, feature past participants from SHARE’s major delegations. A delegate is someone who travels with a group (delegation) to El Salvador to learn about the history, politics, and people to better accompany the Salvadoran people. Interested in becoming a SHARE delegate? Check out our major delegation page for information on the upcoming International Solidarity Delegation in July!

Mary Louise Chesley-Cora

Spotlight On: Mary Louise Chesley-Cora, Hockessin, DE

SHARE Delegation Experience: 2015 Churchwomen Commemoration Delegation

Why did I decide to participate? There was a strong spiritual “pull” to look at this possibility and then to take steps needed to participate. Initially, I knew no one in the delegation and went by myself.

What did I gain? I gained a much greater understanding of what happened in El Salvador in the past 50 years and the unfortunate role the US government played in the civil war there causing the deaths of thousands of the people as well as a greater appreciation of what is presently happening to build up hope and justice for the people, especially those who continue to suffer injustice and threats of terror from gangs and organized crime (mostly women and children).  I was inspired by the strength of the women who seem fearless and determined to make their country a beautiful and safe place to live.

What was most memorable? The most memorable day was being with the people at the Mass on December 2 to celebrate the lives of these courageous and faith-filled women who were martyred at that spot 35 years before. It was also the exact day a year ago that I was celebrating the life of my dear husband, George, (12/2/14) at our parish of the Resurrection in Delaware. I envisioned them all “in glory”…rejoicing with us!

What was my favorite part? I was very touched by the great hospitality shown to our delegation as well as the gratitude of the people toward us to have come to “walk with,  pray with and celebrate with” on their journey for greater justice and peace. Despite the tremendous losses and hardships, they showed great resilience, compassion and hope for their lives and those of their children. I also valued meeting all the delegates and sharing with them. I found “connections” I couldn’t believe with various ones. It was a wonderful group of “new friends” journeying together.  Our team was also “outstanding”!!!

How was I challenged? I was challenged to be open to all kinds of new experiences, people, travel, language. I welcomed this opportunity to grow in faith, to support those who continue to work for justice and peace and to join them in prayer for a  more hope-filled future.

For those thinking of joining a SHARE delegation: The SHARE opportunity was so well planned and organized. It included important meetings with representatives of the government, media and local people, meaningful prayer experiences, enjoyable times for meals and conversation as a group and with the local people. It was a wonderful, worthwhile experience and it made such a difference for the people there and for each of us in the delegation.

How does it continue to inspire?: It is only 2 months since the trip and I am still “unpacking” the experience and discerning how this can inspire and inform others to reach out in  mercy, justice and reconciliation to these sisters and brothers in El Salvador. I would like to continue to be involved in some way but it is not yet clear what that will mean. I am filled with GRATITUDE for this experience and all the people I met during those days.


Delegate Spotlight: Maryanne

March 18, 2016

Our blog series, Delegate Spotlight, feature past participants from SHARE’s major delegations. A delegate is someone who travels with a group (delegation) to El Salvador to learn about the history, politics, and people to better accompany the Salvadoran people. Interested in becoming a SHARE delegate? Check out our major delegation page for information on the upcoming International Solidarity Delegation in July!  

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Spotlight On: Sister Maryanne Ruzzo, SC

SHARE Delegation Experience: 2015 Churchwomen Commemoration Delegation

Wanting to go to El Salvador started with a movie long before I entered the Sisters of Charity. When the American missionaries were killed in 1980 I was just out of college and really didn’t know much about what was happening in El Salvador nor did I remember much, if anything about their story.  About 5 years later I attended a retreat and a movie about Maura, Ita, Dorothy and Jean was shown.  I remember being emotionally drained and challenged by that movie and realized then that God might really be calling me to religious life. Their courage, their passion, their strength, their faithfulness inspired me to take steps toward entering the Sisters of Charity  where I have met many other women who have inspired and influenced my life and taught me how to live the Gospel call of making the love of God visible in our world. So when the opportunity came for me to represent LCWR Region 1 on a co-sponsored trip between LCWR and SHARE to EL Salvador for the commemoration of the 35th Anniversary of the martyrdom of these women, I was excited and extremely grateful. These women were not dead but were very alive everywhere we went!

And we went everywhere! To the Cathedral where Romero celebrated many liturgies, to the Crypt downstairs where he was buried,  to the wall called the Monument of Truth and Memory which names over 30,000 who were either murdered or disappeared, to the University of Central America and to the rose garden memorial where the 6 Jesuits and the housekeeper and her daughter were killed, to the Chapel where Romero was killed and to his home, to 3 base communities with connections to the missionaries and SHARE, to the site where the Missionaries were killed, and to the cemetery where the Maryknoll sisters were buried. We met with grassroots movement leaders, human rights defenders, mothers of the disappeared, government leaders and with farmers from an organic co-op who are planning now for the challenges from climate change. We heard stories of those who survived the war and of the root causes of migration.

What stayed with me the most? I’ll try to share a few of these experiences with you. The first was when we drove to the site where the women’s bodies were found. When the bus turned off the highway we were told that that was when the missionaries suspected that something horrible was going to happen. We rode in silence imagining what that had to have been like for them. The silence was piercing, and so were the bangs we heard that sounded like gunshots but later we found out were fireworks. We met up with a procession, had mass in a chapel at the site and then heard testimonies of how the missionaries had saved so many people’s lives at the risk of their own. We heard from a woman who had been 10 when Maura and Ita had saved her life by stashing her in the car trunk as they drove to safety through check points with the military.  Later we met her at one of the base communities and this was the second experience that has stayed with me.

This young woman, Monte, along with many other women her age shared with us all the organizing and advocating they are doing for human rights and for their children and for their land and for each other. These women would have all been children of the women who were leaders with the Missionaries during the war.  These women have kept the gangs out of their area (gangs have taken over almost ¾ of the country). They have kept 4 mining companies out of their area. They have organized youth groups and farms and co-ops. I found myself challenged by what they have been able to accomplish considering all they have been through. It was evident that the church women were as alive in them today as they were 35 years ago.

Another experience was when we went to the last of the base communities. It was night. As we got off the busses to process up the hill we were met by children singing and others holding candle lanterns that were given to us to light our way toward the plaza where fireworks were displayed. Together we walked forth in solidarity to remember and continue to celebrate the God who is alive in all of us through the memory of these women. There wasn’t a dry eye in the procession. After speeches and music and poetry and a meal all 117 of us were sent off with different families to spend the night in their homes. That would be another story!

Probably the event that haunts me the most was a skit done by a youth group. They acted out a letter that they wrote to Maura, Ita, Jean and Dorothy.  Five of them wore names of countries or cities that are presently experiencing or causing violence. They held a deep red cloth and bounced the globe back and forth toward each of these places. They spoke of how they know that they have experienced the ravages of violence and war in their own country but were also concerned about what to do because “Our whole world is bleeding because of war and hunger”.  These young people who have very little are so aware of the need for God in our world and desire to make things better.

This image of the globe being tossed in the bleeding red cloth challenges me as the whole trip has challenged me to look at my own call once again. Over 25 years ago the witness of the lives of Maura, Ita, Dorothy and Jean opened a door for me to say yes to Jesus and become a Sister of Charity. I find myself asking what is the yes that God is inviting me to today through the hopeful, passionate, faithful, resurrection people of El Salvador? And how will I live Charity today in this place we call home where God desires to be birthed over and over again? And I ask you, what is the yes that God is inviting you to today?


Delegate Spotlight: Margie

March 11, 2016

Our blog series, Delegate Spotlight, feature past participants from SHARE’s major delegations. A delegate is someone who travels with a group (delegation) to El Salvador to learn about the history, politics, and people to better accompany the Salvadoran people. Interested in becoming a SHARE delegate? Check out our major delegation page for information on the upcoming International Solidarity Delegation in July!  

MargieSpotlight On: Margie Carroll

SHARE Delegation Experience: 2015 Churchwomen Commemoration Delegation

Why did you decide to participate in SHARE’s major delegation?
Knowing that it was the 35th anniversary of the four Churchwomen’s martyrdom, I searched the web and gratefully discovered that a delegation was being sponsored by SHARE/LCWR. Immediately I knew that my heart was leading me to be a sojourner! I was so excited that I invited my daughter, Megan, to accompany me.  She was born on December 4, 1979,and was about to celebrate her 1st birthday when the women were killed on December 2, 1980.  I promised myself then that some day I would visit the community where Dorothy, Ita, Maura, and Maureen served. To my surprise and delight, Megan decided to join me at the last minute.  I treasure the experience we shared.

How were you challenged?
I did not feel particularly challenged until a crown, which had been on an upper back tooth for 32 years, decided to fall off just before leaving on an overnight visit with the welcoming community of Chalatenango. How like the “God of Surprises” to zap me with ongoing pain from a jagged exposed tooth for the next five days until I could get back to my dentist in San Diego! The experience was a good lesson of being in solidarity with the poor who cannot always seek medical assistance.
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How does your experience continue to inspire you in your work/life/passions today?
The delegation experience reinforced my commitment to be a voice for those who may not have the freedom to speak out. I serve on the board of Casa Cornelia Law Center in San Diego whose mission is to provide quality pro bono legal services to victims of human and civil rights violations, particularly for asylum seekers, unaccompanied children coming over the border, domestic violence, and human trafficking.  We use every opportunity to interact with the public to clarify media misconceptions about immigration and why people are fleeing Central America. The delegation experience also provided me with much to share with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps NW National Alumni Council and the new JustFaith program on immigration that we are starting in our parish.

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Fasting to Lift Oppression

February 25, 2016

Today we share reflections by Sister Janet Marie Peterworth, OSU, President of the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, about her participation in our December 2015 Remembering the Churchwomen Delegation.

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Sr. Carol Reamer and Sr. Janet Marie Peterworth at a memorial to the four churchwomen.

My reflections today come from the last part of this day’s reading from Isaiah (58: 1-9a) on the kind of fast that our God wants. I was reflecting about this in the context of my recent trip to El Salvador. The background of that trip started many years ago. A brutal civil war was raging in that country. The military was propping up the government and the two together were truly oppressing the indigenous people and the poor by confiscating their land for big multinational corporations—land that had been theirs for many years. The government was using the scorched earth policy. That meant the military went from village to village burning everything so that the people would have nothing to come back to. And with monetary help and training from our United States government, they murdered over 72,000 people in that civil war. Read More »


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. Read More »


Monsignor Romero and Martyrdom

March 19, 2014

Pastor Miguel Tomás Castro shares this reflection he provided to the magazine “Sentir con el Pueblo” in autumn of 2013.  Pastor Miguel is general pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in San Jacinto, San Salvador.  Emmanuel Baptist is one of the few Salvadoran Protestant churches that continues to keep alive the memory of Monsignor Romero and his prophetic voice, referring frequently to his teachings to illustrate the Gospel.

Reflecting on the martyrdom of Monsignor Romero may seem a very simple and easy thing, but it’s not.  It’s not easy, simply because the concept of martyrdom in Monsignor Romero is not a theological concept, nor a philosophical idea.  It is the concept of a Pastor and a Prophet, who assumed faith with a clarity regarding its implications in reality and in history.

OscarRomero

In his homily from July 24, 1977, he tells us:  “The Church cannot keep silent before these economic, political and social injustices.  If the Church didn’t speak it would be an accomplice of marginalization, of an unhealthy and sinful conformity … “

In this sense, now that we want to rescue the tradition of martyrdom, we want to do it in the same spirit as Monsignor Romero, in his spirituality that encouraged him and illuminated him in his prophetic ministry.  This is clear in his homily from August 14, 1977, when Monsignor Romero says: “The prophet has to disturb society when they are not acting in accordance with God.”  There is deep wisdom in his words, because when a Christian assumes his or her faith responsibly, living out one’s faith not just intimately, but also living it out in all dimensions of relationships, be they human, political, social, or economic relationships, faith is itself an outcry against injustice, an outcry that calls out the reality behind God’s back, and converts to God.  Faith converts to the justice of God.

From this conscience, Monsignor Romero was capable of saying: “Sisters and Brothers, on the occasion of my birthday, I have been able to understand once again that my life does not belong to me.  Instead, it belongs to you,” from his Homily on August 21, 1977.

It is this clarity of faith that made Monsignor Romero not just a consistent Christian, but a pastor, a prophet consistent with and faithful to God, always seeking His justice among us.

Read More »


Celebrations of the American Churchwomen

December 16, 2013

The week of December 2nd dozens of women religious, lay leaders, college students, and people in solidarity from across the country gathered to remember the five martyred churchwomen: Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donovan, and Carla Piette.

Altar Commemorating the American Churchwomen

Altar Commemorating the American Churchwomen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the San Francisco Bay Area Lyn Kirkconnell, a former Maryknoll Missioner who was serving in Peru at the time of their deaths, shared the following reflection:

 It is not easy to paint a picture of the horror and brutality experienced and witnessed daily by the people of El Salvador in 1980.  Indeed, why should we keep looking at that fateful year 33 years later?  And why look at events in such a tiny country in the middle of Central America?

 It is because El Salvador is a microcosm of our world; it is because what happened there, several decades ago, represents the worst and the best of humankind.  During my brief, but poignant 10-day visit last year with the SHARE-LCWR delegation, I was reminded over and over again of a monument I saw when I was a young student in Paris.  This is the Memorial of the Deported Martyrs behind Notre Dame Cathedral on Ile de la Cité.  This memorial was dedicated in 1962 to the 200,000 Jewish people deported during WWII, handed over to the Nazis to be used, abused and thrown away.  You descend the stairs to the entrance to this memorial.  Inside a small room, you view a long tunnel-like structure with the names of the deported and with a light symbolizing each life.  As you leave, etched in stone over the doorway, are the words: “Pardonne;  N’oublie pas…”  “Forgive;  Do not forget…” Read More »


Accompanying the Lives of the Lost

February 6, 2013

Sr. Ann Braudis, MM, took part in the December 2012 Honoring Women Religious Delegation. As a Maryknoll Sister herself, this is her reflection on the role of religious women in El Salvador and her experience during the Delegation. 

Honoring religious women: In the current period when U.S. American religious women have found themselves cast under a harsh and scrutinizing light, the motion to pay tribute to what they and their lay companions have given their lives to, resonates forcefully in the hearts of many people. This is captured in the following words adapted from the writings of the SHARE Foundation:

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Delegates pray at the Maryknoll sisters’ grave site in Chalatenango

For more than three decades, women religious and lay women have accompanied the people of El Salvador. Women religious responded to the cry for help during and after the war, traveling to El Salvador and working side by side with communities at the highest risk. They gave sanctuary to Salvadoran refugees in the U.S., fought for fair immigration policies, and pressured the U.S. government to cease military aid in order to end the war. Religious congregations provided material aid for the reconstruction of El Salvador in the aftermath of the war and countless natural disasters and continue to support women’s projects around the country. Theirs has been a labor of love infused with the spirit of our sister martyrs – a spirit of justice, compassion, and a willingness to speak truth to power.

Read More »


Video Memoir: Celebrating Ita, Maura, Jean, and Dorothy

February 1, 2013

This past December, over 50 women and men, religious and lay, came to El Salvador. They came to celebrate the lives of Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan, who were martyred during the civil war. During the ten day delegation, we traveled by yellow school buses all over the country; we filled our days by exploring the National Cathedral, wandering to Ita and Maura’s gravesite at sunset in Chalatenango, and resting with their beloved Salvadoran brothers and sisters in the countryside, surrounded by torchlight and welcoming embraces. For a look back at our time in El Salvador, walk with us through the Honoring Women Religious Delegation Video Memoir


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