Am I willing to suffer with the people here, the suffering of the powerless, the feeling impotent? Can I say to my neighbours I have no solutions to this situation; I don’t know the answers, but I will walk with you, search with you, be with you. Can I let myself be evangelized by this opportunity? Can I look at and accept my own poorness as I learn it from the poor ones? Ita Ford, MM

On December 2nd 1980, four Catholic missionaries from the United States working in El Salvador were raped and murdered by five members of the El Salvador National Guard. They were Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Cleveland Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Donovan. This was nine months after the assassination of Archbishop Romero and the Salvadoran civil war was underway. The four women were also remembered at a moving service in Hayes, Middlesex, UK organised by the Conference of the Religious, working with the Archbishop Romero Trust, CAFOD and Pax Christi. Here you can read the reflection written by Gemma Simmonds, CJ on this occasion.

From the earliest time in the church’s history the martyrs have been commemorated by consecrating altars that enclose within them the bodily relics of those who died for their faith.  There are no such altars for the women martyrs of El Salvador, but we come together to venerate their memory and to acknowledge a church nourished on their blood and built on the strong pillars of their sacrifice. Gemma Simmonds, CJ