On the evening of December 2, 1980, Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Donovan were abducted, raped, and brutally murdered by the U.S.-trained Salvadoran army (trained the School of the Americas, learn more here). Each of the Churchwomen had made an intentional choice to remain in El Salvador despite the growing violence toward the economically poor and the Church. Their murders were part of a growing number of violent attacks on the Catholic Church in response to its vocal advocacy for the economically poor and marginalized. These included the murders of Archbishop Oscar Romero and Fr. Rutilio Grande, S.J., prior to the Churchwomen’s deaths and later the killing of the six Jesuits and two laywomen in 1989. Church leaders and ministers were not the only ones being killed. During the twelve years following the deaths of the Churchwomen over 75,000 innocent civilians were killed in El Salvador as the result of a violent civil war fueled by an estimated $1 million per day of U.S. funding for the repressive Salvadoran military. Three of the five military personnel that carried out the murders of the Churchwomen received training at a U.S. military training school then-known as the U.S. Army School of the Americas. (–Adapted from Ignatian Solidarity Network.)
To read more about each of the four women, click here.