December 2, 2013
We Remember Four Catholic Women Who Gave their Lives
Every year thousands of communities throughout the world continue to celebrate the December 2, 1980 anniversary of the brutal deaths and inspiring lives of Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel and Cleveland Diocese lay missioner Jean Donovan. Four friends, women of faith who loved the Salvadoran people and died because of their compassion for and solidarity with the poor. The bodies of Maura and Ita are buried where they accompanied people ravaged by war in Chalatenango, next to Maryknoll Sister Carla Piette killed in September 1980 when a flash flood swept away the jeep in which she and Ita had been traveling. Their deaths have always been remembered in the context of the 75,000 Salvadorans also murdered in that decade.
At their funeral Sister Melinda Roper assured those present that Maryknoll Sisters wished to continue to accompany the Salvadoran people. However, in 1981 all six Maryknollers (two Sisters and four priests) had to leave the country under death threat. In 1988 the Sisters returned and presently four continue in pastoral and health ministries, working with the Salvadorans for peace and reconciliation.