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As It Happened In 1989
News from the days following the murders at the UCA

Washington Post

Six prominent Jesuit priests, including the rector and vice rector of El Salvador's most prestigious university, were killed today along with two other persons at the house were they slept in the capital.
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Washington Post

By Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J.

Before the end of darkness on the morning of Nov. 16, with unspeakable and barbaric cruelty, armed men burst into the Jesuit residence at the University of Central America in San Salvador and shot six Jesuit priests to death.  At the same time, the community's cook and her daughter were murdered in their bed.  According to reliable reports, several of the priests, my brothers, had their brains torn from their heads.
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Washington Post

The remains of six Jesuit priests killed here last week were placed today in a chapel crypt underneath a portrait of slain archbishop Oscar Armulfo Romero amid mounting evidence of a campaign of intimidation against liberal members of the clergy.
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In Solidarity with the Slain Jesuits of El Salvador

Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J. gave this homily at a memorial Mass for the slain Jesuits of El Salvador at St. Ignatius Church in New York City on November 22, 1989

The occasion for our liturgy is the tragedy of last Thursday, Nov. 16, when six Jesuits and two of their household family at the Central American University in San Salvador were brutally murdered and mutilated in the early morning hours.  We mourn not only for them, but for all the victims of this wasteful war that for more than 10 years has bled a tiny, tortured country.  We mourn for the 70,000 people of El Salvador who have died in this war and the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced by the fighting. 

We remember the martyrs that preceded last Thursday’s victims, Rutillo Grande, a Jesuit assassinated in 1977, the same year that a right-wing paramilitary group ordered all Jesuits to leave the country or face a sentence of death.  We remember Archbishop Oscar Romero, struck down by an assassin’s bullet in 1980 while celebrating Mass.  We remember also the four American women missionaries who were kidnapped, assaulted and murdered by military forces in December of 1980....

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Icon of November 16, 1989 Martyrs of El Salvador. Icon by Robert Lenz, 1991, Bridge Building Images
"Martyrs of the Jesuit University", By Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. 1991. Courtesy of Trinity Stores (www.trinitystores.com or 800-699-4482)

"The struggle against injustice
and the pursuit of truth
cannot be separated nor can one
work for one independent of the other."

Ignatio Ellacuría, S.J.
Murdered superior of Jesuit community at the UCA

Remembering the UCA Martyrs at Creighton
Creighton mourns the deaths and celebrates the work and mission of the UCA Martyrs

The 20th Anniversary of the Murders at the UCA is November 16, 2009. Creighton will celebrate with speakers, a mass of commemoration, and a send-off service for members of the Creighton Community attending the Peace Vigil at the School of the Americas.

Past Events at Creighton
A listing of past events at Creighton that commemorate and celebrate life of the Archbishop


Reflections and Reaction
Exploring the meaning of the Martyrs

Stations of the Cross

From the Jesuit Chapel at the University of Central America, these Stations of the Cross depict the suffering of Christ through the suffering of the people of El Salvador.

Links to Learn More

University of Central America (UCA)
The home page for the UCA and a special section on the martyrs.

"The Legacy of the Jesuit Martyrs"
The Ignatian Center for
Jesuit Education at Santa Clara University writes about The Martyrs of the University of Central America and their influence 20 years later in the Fall 2009 Issue of Explore

H.R. 2567
Text of legislation to to suspend the authority of the School of the Americas (now called Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation - WHINSEC) from the 111th Congress in 2009

"The Road From Aguilares"
William Reiser, S.J., writes about the El Salvador Martyrs in the November 2009 issue of America Magazine.

"Remembering the Jesuit Martyrs"
John Dear, a Jesuit and Peace advocate, writes on how the Jesuits of the UCA have continued to influence his life and mission.

"Deaths in the Family"
Kevin Burke, S.J., discusses the legacy of the six jesuits killed at the UCA in 1989. Fr. Burke has written two books on Ignacio Ellacuría - one of the murdered Jesuits - and spoke at Creighton in November 2009.

PBS "Enemies of War"
A documentary on the War in El Salvador with a special emphasis on human rights violations and the deaths of the UCA Martyrs

PBS Newshour: The School of the Americas
A special on the US Military facility that has trained military leaders from Central America that have been accused of tremendous bloodshed in their home countries

UN Truth Commission Report
A document presenting the evidence recorded on the murders in el Salvador

University of Texas, Latin America Network Information Center
Numerous links, resources, and documents on El Salvador and its history.

For Further Reading and Research
A select bibliography of books, films, and research on the UCA Martyrs, Oscar Romero, The Four Churchwomen, and El Salvador.

The UCA Martyrs: Challenge and Grace
A lecture by Jon Sobrino, S.J. at Santa Clara University

Social sins which cry to heaven
56. The Church's social doctrine also makes possible a clearer appreciation of the gravity of the “social sins which cry to heaven because they generate violence, disrupt peace and harmony between communities within single nations, between nations and between the different regions of the continent”.

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