40 years ago: 4 churchwomen committed to the poor are murdered in El Salvador

Wednesday, December 2 marks the 40th anniversary of the cold-blooded rape and murder of 4 US churchwomen in El Salvador by a military death squad.   It was 1980, a year which saw the assassinations of archbishop Oscar Romero and many other lay and religious workers engaged in the struggle for a just society in the opening bloody years of El Salvador's civil war.  Sisters Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, and lay missioner Jean Donovan were slaughtered for their commitment to El Salvador's poorest citizens. 

An article just published on Znet titled Martyred Missionaries: The Lives and Legacies of Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, Ita Ford, and Dorothy Kazel offers a good refresher on the lives of these remarkable women and why the Salvadoran military regime sought to eliminate them. 

The crime itself, like the murder of Oscar Romero, the Jesuit priests, the children of El Mozote and so many others remains unpunished and wrapped in impunity in El Salvador. Although the US found sufficient evidence to expel a former general linked to the murders back to El Salvador, no high ranking military officer has been prosecuted in a Salvadoran court for the atrocity.

The Share Foundation and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has a resource kit for this 40th anniversary which you can access here.

A handful of online events on the December anniversary date include:

The Benedictines for Peace will host an online Dec. 2 Holy Hour with access via Facebook or Zoom. The event will be co-sponsored by Sisters of Mercy of the Americas New York Pennsylvania West and Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

The Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, Kentucky, have prepared an online prayer service honoring the four women that can be viewed on YouTube.

The Maryknoll Sisters plan a 90-minute public webinar. The 7 p.m. EST event will include prayers, reflections on martyrdom and testimonies by the women's family members, as well as representatives of institutions in the United States and Central America, such as schools, whose work expressly carries on the work of the churchwomen.

For more, see Congregations plan to honor churchwomen slain in El Salvador 40 years ago.  


As a faithful reader of the blog, I wanted to share my piece on the importance of the churchwomen today, up now on The Progressive

thank you for your work
Mary Jo