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Remembering the UCA Martyrs
Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Today, November 16, we commemorate the six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter who were killed at the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador on this day in 1989. We join with the Ignatian family around the world to recall their deaths as martyrs and to honor their lives. They spoke truth to power in service to the tormented and oppressed people of El Salvador. With the ”crucified people,” they struggled for justice and they died true to that mission. The white crosses with their names stand in their memory in front of the Mission Church.
One of their companions, Jon Sobrino, S.J., received the St. Clare Medal in their honor in 2009 and reminded us: “The martyrs, more than anyone else, show us the way to go. They’re the ones who push us the hardest to follow Jesus.” Fr. Sobrino challenged us, as a university, to live up to the legacy of these eight committed people, to “help free people from every kind of oppression—that is, to take the crucified people down from their crosses. If the university doesn’t make this its priority, it can be a center of knowledge, along with others, and more or less competent and competitive, but it won’t be a university of Christian inspiration.”
This anniversary is especially poignant with the recent death of Dean Brackley, S.J., who volunteered in 1990 to go to El Salvador to continue the work of the UCA martyrs. Dean welcomed SCU faculty, staff, and students who traveled to El Salvador on immersion delegations. He also taught SCU students at our Casa de la Solidaridad in San Salvador.
Today we honor the martyrs for the depth of their sacrifice – a sacrifice they made to help bring forth a world freed from injustice and redeemed with compassion and mercy. As a community, let us keep their memory alive in our thoughts, prayers and actions. May they rest in peace.
Michael E. Engh, S.J.