In 1980 Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan were murdered by officers of the Salvadoran military. Missionaries serving among the poor during El Salvador’s civil war, these women knew, as Ita Ford said the night before she died, that “one who is committed to the poor must risk the same fate as the poor.” Their deaths affected the North American church deeply, galvanizing opposition to US support for the Salvadoran government’s repression of its -people.
This was the start of the prayer in the liturgy of the ordinary radicals today, the anniversary of their deaths. When I looked up more about the four women, I found that Jean Donovan was just in her twenties when she was killed.
I don't know terribly much about the stories of these women, but I hope to think about their lives today as I work on my PhD. As I work, there's the temptation to take the most cynical route possible: "what will get me the degree so that I can move on with my life?" I hope that I don't do this, even though I understand the need to be somewhat pragmatic. I hope I can be a tiny bit brave and try to say something a tiny bit different than what is expected in the academic setting I'm in. And when I move on from this one part of my life, I hope I can be a tiny bit brave in how I teach Noah and Eli about the world- to look beyond our immediate realities and to tiny, brave things we can do every day. I know the actions of these women were more than tiny brave choices- they were huge! But maybe God also calls us to tiny brave choices that accumulate and gradually amount to us becoming the people who can, with authority, stand up for injustice.