Today we celebrate the lives of the four Churchwomen who were martyred in El Salvador. They are witnesses to all of us of the commitment to God and to love of one’s neighbor, even in the face of danger and death. The following comes from the People’s Companion to the Breviary, pages 500-501.

4 Martyred ChurchwomenOn the evening of December 2, 1980, two Maryknoll Sisters, Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, were returning to El Salvador from a retreat in Nicaragua. They were picked up at the airport by an Ursuline Sister, Dorothy Kazel, and a young lay woman, Jean Donovan, who worked in the refugee camps. On the road from the airport, they were stopped at a military roadblock. They were taken to a remote spot along a side road, brutally abused, and then executed. They have become part of the martyrology of the Christian communities throughout Latin America.

In her eulogy, Sr. Melinda Roper of Maryknoll said:

… God, in His/Her loving kindness, has raised up witnesses in our midst. God is calling each of us to a more radical discipleship—one which will not be understood by the powerful of our day. We must be wise as serpents in naming and denouncing the evil which pervades our world. We must be filled with compassion for those whom suffering from lack of basic necessities has become a way of life. We must be moved to action which will clearly identify us with the poor. Above all, let us not be filled with fear. Let us be filled with courage and hope, for “in the tender compassion of our God, the dawn shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”