Posts Tagged ‘HWR’

In the Land of Flowering Trees

February 11, 2013

A letter from one of the December 2012 HWR Delegates, Bette Ann Jaster, OP.

Bette Ann prays with the congregation during mass in Puerto de la Libertad

Bette Ann prays with the congregation during mass in Puerto de la Libertad

Dear Ones,

The sights and sounds of El Salvador linger with me still as I travel back to NY in the middle of this year’s Advent journey. This land of volcanoes and lush green valleys with coconuts, papayas, mandarin oranges, avocados and flowering trees, plants and bushes,  is on one hand, a magnificent paradise. The occasional cattle accompanied by white egrets, the roaming chickens and goats, foraging pigs, strong horses, loud parrots, soaring hawks, lizards, frogs and skinny dogs, invite one to look and listen closely. December is the dry season. In the midst of such beauty, this land of the martyrs and her people have tales to tell, stories of desperation and death, memories of waiting, longing and yearning for the Disappeared to return and for new life to come again.

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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:


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.

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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

Torchlight in the Darkness

January 24, 2013

Diane Clyne, former SHARE Board member and Sister of Mercy, traveled with the December Honoring Women Religious Delegation in December 2012, and proceeded to visit Honduras. Diane lived in El Salvador during the 1990s This is her reflection on her visit back to these two tumultuous and healing nations. 

Diane with two of her Salvadoran comrades in Chalatenango

Diane with two of her Salvadoran comrades in Chalatenango

Finding hope this winter 2012-2013 has been bittersweet. I returned mid December after ten days in El Salvador and over a week with our sisters in San Pedro Sula, Honduras to learn of the deaths of Innocents in Newtown Connecticut. My heart seemed caught in a downward spiral.

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Reflecting the Martyrs: HWR Delegation 2012

January 10, 2013

A reflection on the Honoring Women Religious Delegation from the Sisters of St. Joseph in Boston, MA., after their return from El Salvador in December 2012:


In Chalatenango on a procession to the martyrs’ grave site. (Lois Connors, middle right)

On the 32nd anniversary of the martyrdom of Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan, SHARE and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) led a delegation to El Salvador. The theme was “Honoring Religious Women” who have dedicated their lives to peace and justice in El Salvador and in our world. Sisters Lois Connors and Claire Morrissey as well as CSJ Associates Judy Swett and Mary Rita Weschler were privileged to join in this delegation. From November 29 to December 6, 2012 they journeyed to El Salvador to retrace the route of the martyrs, visit nearby communities, participate in a forum on women’s issues, and hold a special event honoring women religious who continue the work for peace and justice across the world. They met with Salvadoran women religious and theologians working with those at the margins, and reflected together on hopes for our Church and its future. Lois, Claire, Judy, and Mary Rita are eager to reflect on their experience with others and plan to do that over the next few months. Their comments below are the beginning of this sharing. 

“It was a humbling experience to come to a church of martyrs and stand on Holy Ground in solidarity with a people of strong committed faith.” -Lois

“I was eager to touch the solid ground of the men and women of El Salvador…I desired to ‘widen my tent’. That has been realized. The colorful environment, the joy and welcoming spirit of all whom I encountered touched me! I have a new mosaic etched in my mind.” -Claire

“The entire program and process was liberating! The women and men I met on the camino shared their testimonies of the organized repression and oppression … having been inspired and challenged I will work and continue to ‘speak truth to power’!” -Judy

“The ‘preferential option for the poor’ has never made so much sense to me, and likely, never will. What a gift to be away, and to return with a fuller heart and a wider perspective. How grateful I am for all of this!” -Mary Rita

“They Were Exposed to the Face of God”: HWR Delegation Reflections

December 17, 2012

Honoring Women Religious: Our Journey in Photos

December 3, 2012

The women of the LCWR are honored during the Patron Saint Festivals in El Puerto De Libertad. Members of the Women’s Center in La Libertad included images of Ita, Maura, Dorothy, and Jean in the mural they are painting on the side of the women’s center.


The Cumbia music was too good to resist. Women Religious take a dance break at the Puerto de La Libertad.


Women Religious in front of the chapel built on the site where the four church women were found. We celebrated mass there with the community on December 2nd, the 32 anniversary of their death.


Sister Claire Morrissey, CSJ receives an award honoring her work at the chapel.

HWR Dec. Delegation First Photos

December 2, 2012



65 delegates. 6 days. Two missing suitcases. Celebrating life, togetherness, justice, and the people of El Salvador, past and present.

Please, check out the short slideshow to share in a few moments from the past two days!

Why are you going to El Salvador? And why is your union letting you go?

November 29, 2012

Today, more than 50 Women Religious will travel to El Salvador to honor the memory of Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan, who were martyred in El Salvador 32 years ago.

Guest blog by Eileen Purcell, former Executive Director of SHARE El Salvador.

Thirty two years ago, I met Jean Donovan on the steps of San Jose de la Montana – the minor seminary and Archdiocesan headquarters of the Catholic church in San Salvador.  I had  traveled to El Salvador as part of a San Francisco Archdiocesan delegation to document the human rights atrocities convulsing El Salvador.  In 1980 alone, human rights experts estimated  1,000 deaths per month (33 per day)) at the hands of the Salvadoran military and death squads, causing  a vast  exodus of refugees, many of whom came to San Francisco.  An additional 25,000 persons were “disappeared.” This state violence was supported and financed by the United States government.  It led to the  assassination Archbishop Oscar Romero in March of 1980 and the rape and killing of  Jean Donovan along with Ita Ford, MM, Maura Clarke, MM,  and Dorothy Kazel, UR on December 2, 1980, just a few months after our meeting.  Their deaths galvanized world opinion and solidarity with the people of El Salvador. 

The trip represented a turning point in my life:  I witnessed unthinkable human rights atrocities  and sweeping state-sponsored violence funded by my country. I   placed my hands and heart in the open wounds  of men, women and children who shared  stories of torture, loss, and despair.  At the same time, I  experienced the extraordinary faith, organization and resilience of a people, “a resurrection people living Good Friday.” Hope grounded in solidarity and action overcame fear.

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