Jesuits from across the globe join with scores of friends and colleagues to commemorate the deaths of six of our brothers and two laywomen in El Salvador 22 years ago today. I don’t know whether time heals, really, or whether the human tendency to forget is what salves the losses we experience. Whatever the case, this year I feel it’s important (for me, at least) to remember again what happened on November 16, 1989.
You can find a large number of links to other stories and memorials at the ‘Online Ministries Page” http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Martyrs/UCA/index.html
Let’s simply remember using excerpts from the article written by Hockstader and Farah in the Washington Post the day following the incident.
“Today's execution-style slayings, which may have been preceded by torture…
“At the scene of the killing of the churchmen, a Jesuit priest said witnesses had reported seeing more than 20 armed men in uniforms enter the house between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., apparently through a back door blown off by an explosive device…
“Several of the victims had been shot in the head. Four of the bodies had been left face down in the front yard of the blood-spattered house. Several had chunks of flesh gouged out, and the brains of two of the victims shot in the head lay several feet from the bodies…”
Let us remember…
“Slain priest Ignacio Ellacuria, 59, was rector of the Central American University and a widely respected leftist intellectual… was born in Spain and later became a Salvadoran citizen, received frequent death threats…
“The university's vice rector, Ignacio Martin-Baro, 50, also a Spanish-born Salvadoran citizen, was best known as an analyst of national and regional affairs and as the founder and director of the Public Opinion Institute, a highly respected polling organization.
“Segundo Montes, 56, a Spanish-born sociology professor and Jesuit priest who did extensive work on Salvadoran refugees in the United States.
“Arnando Lopez, 53, a Spanish-born philosophy professor and Jesuit priest.
“Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, 71, a Salvadoran-born Jesuit priest who was director of a center for humanitarian assistance affiliated with the university.
“Juan Ramon Moreno, 56, a Spanish-born Jesuit priest who was director of two university-related programs.
“Julia Elba Ramos, 42, a cook, and Cecilia Ramos, her daughter, 15.”
In a special way, let us also remember Fr. Dean Brackley, SJ, a former administrator of the School for Religious Education at the Universidad Centroamericana, who died a month ago. Brackley volunteered to serve at the UCA following the assassination of the eight whom we commemorate today. Known as a theologian and advocate for the poor in El Salvador and everywhere, his book, “The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times,” opened many to the wisdom of Ignatius and the plight of the poor.
As we remember these our sisters and brothers today, perhaps we can not only marvel at their strong commitment, but also let their lives speak to us more intensely about the divine call to recognize the poor as friends in the Lord.