Susan Gunn of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, wrote this reflection on the visit of the LCWR-SHARE Foundation delegation to the communities in El Salvador where the churchwomen were martyred in 1980.
The following article was published in the January-February 2023 issue of NewsNotes.
On December 1st, the community of Chalatenango, inspired by the churchwomen whom they loved and lost 42 years ago, welcomed our delegation of nearly 50 people with open arms, music, dancing, poetry and food.
The starkness of the life and death of the five women of faith—Maryknoll Sr. Carla Piette, who, while transporting a newly-released prisoner back to the community, was caught in a flash flood and drowned, and the four others who were martyred for answering Archbishop Romero’s call to accompany the poor, Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and Lay Missioner Jean Donovan—moves all of us, no matter our differences and no matter the passage of time, to a deeper commitment to compassion and solidarity with the poor and vulnerable.
The residents of Chalatenango spoke to us about their deep love for the churchwomen whose faith moved them to willingly enter into this rural community’s struggle to survive during the early days of civil war in El Salvador. At the heart of their faith was their focus on the holiness and dignity of each human life. By recognizing the divine in each person and giving their lives for those on the margins of this world, the churchwomen have changed each person they touched, even our delegation, 42 years later.
These women’s lives and deaths call us to open our lives to the ultimate challenge of the Gospel: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). When any of us faces this challenge throughout our lives, we can unite our spirit with Carla, Ita, Maura and Dorothy, and rise to the occasion to bring forth a new creation.
Faith in action:
Learn more about Roses in December Delegation and the work of the coordinating foundation, SHARE El Salvador at https://mogc.info/SHARE
Photo by Susan Gunn, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, in El Salvador