This reflection was first shared by the Roses in December delegation on December 2, 2022. The delegation traveled to El Salvador and Honduraz as part of the SHARE Foundation and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns Director Susan Gunn wrote about the El Salvador portion of the pilgrimage.
Today, the community of Chalatenango, inspired by the church women 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 church women 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 church women 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.