30th Anniversary of the death of Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Maryknoll nuns, Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Jean Donovan-an American lay Missionary and Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline nun. On the afternoon of December 2nd, Jean Donovan and Dorothy Kazel, had gone to the San Salvador airport to pick up Maura Clarke and Ita Ford. They were coming back from a Maryknoll conference in Nicaragua. When leaving the airport, 5 members of the National Guard stopped their vehicle and took the 4 of them to a distant place where they were tortured, raped and murdered by the soldiers. Hours after they have been killed, some campesinos had seen the men drive out in a white van and that van would later be found on fire near an airport road. The next morning on December 3rd when the bodies were found, couple commanders and members of the civil guard asked four local persons to bury their bodies in a common grave. They did but also relayed the information to their parish priest. Once the information was given to the priest, the local bishop and the US ambassador to El Salvador were informed. On December 4, the U.S. Ambassador along with couple of Maryknoll sisters and missionaries went to dig out their bodies. They were accompanied by several reporters. When the bodies of Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Jean Donovan and Dorothy Kazel were taken out, the body of Donovan was sent to Sarasota, Florida and Kazel’s to Cleveland, Ohio. The bodies of Maura Clarke and Ita Ford were buried in Chalatenango.

These 4 martyr women were the face of the Catholic Church at a time when members of the Church decided to take a stand on the side of poor in El Salvador. Maura, Ita, Jean and Dorothy all answered the call to serve the poorest of the poor and were targeted for standing on the side of the poor. Their courageous act to continue serving the people, knowing that doing so may get them killed speaks volumes and has inspired millions of people to walk in their footsteps and dedicate their lives to continue helping the poor not only in El Salvador but throughout the world.

Here is an article where David Helvarg reflects on the last interview he had with Ita Ford.

Here is a video remembering not only the Martyr women but the Women of El Salvador. Enjoy.

Maura Clarke…PRESENTE!!!
Ita Ford…PRESENTE!!!
Jean Donovan…PRESENTE!!!
Dorothy Kazel….PRESENTE!!!


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