Monday, November 16, 2009

Fr. Rutillio Grande, S.J. is considered a catalyst for Romero´s own conversion. We stopped by his roadside memorial, a testament to the immidiate and repressive violence of the war years. I couldn´t help but notice that the road directly in front of the memorial, and for some distance on either side, was not paved and smooth like much of the route between Agillares and El Paisnal. Rather, it was rough and potted. Was it simply not paved? Or had someone, or many someones, at some time deliberately removed that stretch of pavement? I imagined faithful parishoners constructing a memorial - bouncing over that rough road. These questions and images pushed me further in an ever evolving realization: its not really about Rutillio. Its not about Romero. Or any of the other martyrs. Like Jesus, the Salvadoran martyrs, from the innocents at El Mozote to Ita, Dorothy, Jean, Maura, to the Archbishop, were never pointing at themselves. They were all pointing to a bigger reality - something much larger, much more powerful (for better or for worse) than themselves. The murderers put a bullets in Rutillio, using his death as a symbol to the people: maybe not as quickly, but we´re going to leave all of you to die at the roadside, too. These martyrs are the symbols of a much deeper structural violence that plagues the same people today as it did 20, 30, 40, 500 years ago. As the homilist at the UCA martyrs mass confirmed, the destruction of this most recent hurricane is not attributible to a natural disaster alone. But, for believers, death is not the end. For love is as strong as death, passion as fierce as the grave. Romero articulated what was said in every Salvadoran martyr´s death: If you kill me I will rise again in the people. And so, to each of us, a question is posed? Will you let the prophet rise in you?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saludos de El Salvador!

I´m Brian Johnson, SU alumn (o5). Many thanks to Magis and the Alumni organizations for their sponsorship of my trip. The opportunity to build new friendships feels so hopeful for global solidarity. There were processions and museums and a Cardinal and crowds but so far it has been Gabriel that has touched my heart. I´m a musician and brought a guitar in hope of expanding my appreciation for the Salvadoran folk music tradition around all of their martyrs. Gabriel is one of the leaders of Ël Coro de los Martires that has provided music for the last eight years of UCA martyrs commemorations. With open arms and an affirmation to the stage security gards that - This music is for everyone, we must teach our brother - Gabriel ushered me to the guitar section of the band with 7 other players. For the hours of the procession and the Mass I lost myself in the sounds of solidarity in El Salvador. The leaders must have noticed because they gifted me with a copy of their song book with chords. Gabriel, his son Boris the drummer, and his little girl Marelyn had another gift for me: claves (wooden precussion instruments) that Gabriel, a wood worker, had made especially for the event. I will not soon forget my new friends, their music, their hospitality and generosity. And I look forward to sharing their songs with you!

Saturday Morning in El Salvador

Saturday was packed of activities. Starting with breakfast at a Mexican restaurant. I´m not sure how I feel about Salvadoreans dressed up in typical Mexican restaurant uniforms... But the breakfast itself was very cool. I ended up sitting across the table from a man that used to be an attorney working in private practice in Seatlte but now works in DC for the Washington Office on Latin America doing essentially work that he loves. He spoke of his self realization that he always knew he didn´t want to be an attorney working in litigation. He was sincere and genuine in that he asked me if I was doing what I wanted to do. When I responded, he asked me questions that showed me that he was truly intersted in helping me find a way to where i wanted to be. he gave me several ideas and his card. he also told me that he wished that one day I would get there.

Although the breakfast was personal for me, the tour of the UCA assassination site was very moving. I stook outside the area where the mother and her daughter were killed. I felt the terror that that mother must have felt as she tried to protect her daughter from the inevitable horror that she knew was coming as the armed men pointed their rifles at her.

Friday in El Salvador

As a political science student at SU, i learned about the existence of a country named El Salvador at the same time i learned that it was a brutal place with a raging war going on. Ronald Reagan, Jesuits, murders, conspiracies... it was all too much. I moved on to learning about other places as I figured I would never go there.. I learned enough to not want to know more. it was too hard emotionally and intellectually to take it all in. However, I want to work in international work and work in international justice. But, by working in international justice one can´t go work in a peaceful country. Uh, what´s the point? Why work in international justice if there is no work to be done.

Tonight I heard Jim McGovern receive his honorary degree in human rights from the University of Central America. What struck me about his speech was that he spoke about how Salvadoreans are a resilient people. How Salvadoreans have suffered so much yet are so determined that their country succeed. He worked on bringing the world´s attention of the atrocities in El Salvador to the world. He worked and talked and traveled and talked and became angry about what was going on. then the murders of the Jesuits and their two companions brought the beginning of the end. But, he was the one that started the momentun. If not for him, the assassinated would have died in vain. He stood up for El Salvador. He didn´t turn his back because the conspiracy, the murders and the atrocities were too much to bear. He faced it head on. That´s he brought change to an entire people. That´s how he saved a people and a country.

The ceremony today inspired and shamed me. But, I ultimately I plan on taking the inspiration and making it into action. Leaving the shame behind.

Norma Linda Ureña

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Leaving for El Salvador

Tomorrow evening a delegation of faculty, staff, Jesuits, students, and alumni from Seattle University will leave Seattle for San Salvador, El Salvador to gather with Salvadorans, members of our Jesuit family worldwide, as well as the Jesuits and our lay colleagues at the University of Central America - San Salvador for the 20th Anniversary and Commemoration of the Martyrdom of the 6 Jesuits, their cook, and her daughter. Many of us remember exactly where we were on November 16, 1989 when the news made its way from El Salvador to the United States. Follow our blog as we reflect on our experiences throughout this pilgrimage of faith.

We remember the martyrs:

Father Ignacio Ellacuría
Father Ignacio Martin-Baro
Father Segundo Montes
Father Amando López
Farther Juan Ramón Moreno
Father Joaquín López y López
Julia Elba Ramos
Celina Mariset

We also remember the people of El Salvador these coming days as they gather again to remember the holy martyrs.

Let us also keep in our prayers the many El Savadoran's who lost their lives and livelihood in the recent hurricane that struck the country last week.