Because of their work and dedication to the poor, Sisters Dorothy Kazel, Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, and their associate Jean Donovan, were brutally murdered by Salvadoran National Guard members 35 years ago on Dec. 2, 1980. Jean and the sisters had committed their lives to accompanying the children and families who had fallen victim to the escalating violence and oppression that eventually led to the civil war in El Salvador.
Sister Johanna Rickl, president of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary, a Davenport-based order of religious sisters, is part of a delegation of 100 women religious and community leaders who traveled to El Salvador to mark the 35th anniversary of the martyrdom of the missionaries. The delegation is sponsored by SHARE El Salvador and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).
“This pilgrimage is especially meaningful to me because I was with co-workers in Mexico at the time of the murders,” Sr. Rickl said before embarking on the trip. “The courage of the four churchwomen inspired me and strengthened my commitment to my own ministry. The trip will also be meaningful as I expect to meet people served by SHARE El Salvador, a group our CHM community supports as part of our mission to respond to the needs of those who are poor and powerless.”
The delegation expected to make a pilgrimage to the martyrdom site of the four churchwomen to hear first-hand testimonies by people who knew them. Meetings with grassroots movement leaders, human rights defenders, and mothers of the disappeared were also planned. And the delegation hoped to explore root causes of migration to the U.S. and the current challenges impoverished communities face, including increasing violence.