Remembering The Stuff of True Martyrs


Sr. Anna Margaret said it was the darkest of days.

I remember precisely where I was.  It was the day my divorce was finalized.  I had yet to meet up with Sr. Anna Margaret. That would be another 17 years or so in coming.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend just past, my former art teacher at Ursuline College, Sr. Dianne Pinchot, got herself arrested protesting at the School of the Americas, Ft. Benning, Georgia or as it is known in military circles Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation.


The commonality that binds us – Ursuline, be it the college or the Ursuline motherhouse of the Ursuline nuns who started the college in 1871.

But this date – today’s date – December 2nd – it’s an important date for me to remember, and it was important before I hit Ursuline.

On the night of December 2, 1980, Sister Dorothy Kazel, lay missioner Jean Donovan and Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford were abducted from the La Libertad airport, interrogated, physically and sexually abused and shot by five national guardsmen. The next morning they were found buried in a common, shallow grave, marked with a cross of two branches.

Sr. Dianne was arrested in Georgia over the weekend because she is an Ursuline who knew Sr. Dorothy and understands too well the murderous connection between Dorothy’s death and the School of the Americas.

December 2, 1980 – Jean Donovan and Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline Sister working with the Cleveland Diocesan Mission in El Salvador, went to the airport to pick up Maura Clark and Ita Ford, both Maryknoll Sisters. These four missionaries were snatched on the road by members of El Salvador’s National Guard and taken to an isolated location, where they were raped, shot, and buried in a shallow grave.

The slaughter of these four American church women did not mark the beginning of the immeasurable harm done by SOA graduates; they were four of the hundreds of thousands killed. But their murders did bring the School to the attention of the American people.

As you enter the library at Ursuline to the immediate left, there’s a room set aside dedicated to the memory of Sr. Dorothy Kazel, as well as lay missioner Jean Donovan; Maura Clark and Ita Ford – both of whom were Maryknoll sisters. The Maryknollers are yet another religious order who have been endlessly dedicated to social justice.

John Dear, S.J. (Jesuit) wrote a piece for the NCR a few years ago on these women. And just over a year ago, Russ Feingold (D-WI) sponsored a Senate Resolution (S. Res 381) “to remember and commemorate the lives and work of Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford , Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and Cleveland Lay Mission Team Member Jean Donovan.”

I wonder when would be the time to bring up liberation theology?

Whereas the lives of these four churchwomen from the United States have…served as inspiration for and continue to inspire Salvadorans, Americans, and people throughout the world to answer the call to service and to pursue lives dedicated to addressing the needs and aspirations of the poor, the vulnerable, and the disadvantaged, especially among women and children;


One Response

  1. Hello

    I’ve just uploaded two rare interviews with the Catholic activist Dorothy Day. One was made for the Christophers [1971]–i.e., Christopher Closeup– and the other for WCVB-TV Boston [1974].

    Day had begun her service to the poor in New York City during the Depression with Peter Maurin, and it continued until her death in 1980. Their dedication to administering to the homeless, elderly, and disenfranchised continues with Catholic Worker homes in many parts of the world.

    Please post or announce the availability of these videos for those who may be interested in hearing this remarkable lay minister.

    They may be located here:

    Thank you

    Dean Taylor

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