Holy Cross Marks 25th Anniversary of El Salvador Murders With Series of Events

President of Holy Cross to attend commemorations and ceremonies in El Salvador

Holy Cross will mark the 25th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuits and their companions in El Salvador with a series of events. In addition, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president of Holy Cross, will attend the commemorations and ceremonies in El Salvador in mid-November. His trip is in coordination with U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, who helped lead the investigation into the murders 25 years ago.

On Nov. 16, 1989 armed men rushed into the Jesuit residence at the University of Central America in San Salvador and shot six Jesuit priests, the community’s cook and her daughter. The Jesuits were murdered in response to their firm defense of the poor and the oppressed. Their murders were part of a decade-long civil war that provoked outrage around the world.

More than 70,000 died during El Salvador’s civil war in the 1980s and early 1990s, the vast majority of whom were civilians killed by the Salvadoran government’s armed forces and paramilitary death squads.

The assassination of the six Jesuits, and the two women, who were unwavering in their defense of the poor and oppressed, brought international outrage and condemnation upon the Salvadoran government, ultimately pressuring its leaders to end their country’s civil war.

Those killed in the attack were:

  • Rev. Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J., 59, Spanish-born Salvadoran citizen, rector of the Central American University and widely respected leftist intellectual.
  • Rev. Ignacio Martin-Baro, S.J., 50, also a Spanish-born Salvadoran citizen, best known as an analyst of national and regional affairs and as the founder and director of the Public Opinion Institute, a highly regarded polling organization.
  • Rev. Segundo Montes, S.J., 56, a Spanish-born sociology professor who did extensive work with Salvadoran refugees in the United States.
  • Rev. Amando Lopez, S.J., 53, a Spanish-born philosophy professor and Jesuit priest.
  • Rev. Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, S.J., 71, director of a center for humanitarian assistance affiliated with the university, also born in El Salvador.
  • Rev. Juan Ramon Moreno, S.J., 56, director of two university-related programs, born in Spain.
  • Julia Elba Ramos, 42, a cook.
  • Cecilia Ramos, 15, Julia’s daughter.

“The murder of six Jesuits and two lay companions marked a turning point in the brutal civil war that ravaged El Salvador from 1979 until 1992,” said Rev. Paul F. Harman, S.J., vice president for mission at Holy Cross. “Jesuits from around the world immediately volunteered to take the places of the six priests who were assassinated. Over the past 25 years, many students and faculty members from Holy Cross have gone to El Salvador and visited the site where the Jesuits and the two women were murdered. Fr. Boroughs, president of Holy Cross, and presidents from other Jesuit schools in the United States will be part of an official delegation that will go to El Salvador for the anniversary. My hope is that students and faculty on campus will be able to attend one or more of the various commemorative events that have been planned.”

All events are free and open to the public. This information will be updated as events draw closer. The events are sponsored by the Chaplains’ Office, Pax Christi, and the Student Government Association and presented as part of the College Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Jesuit Restoration, 1814-2014.

Oct. 21 4:30 p.m., Rehm Library A tireless advocate for peace and justice, Rev. Joe Mulligan, S.J., of Detroit, will give a talk titled “Martyrdom of the Jesuits.” He currently works in Nicaragua with Christian base communities. He is the author of “The Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador: Celebrating the Anniversaries” (1994) which chronicles the tragic massacre. Fr. Mulligan will discuss the martyrs and their relevance today.

Nov. 12-17 Pax Christi, a chapter of Pax Christi USA, the Catholic peace organization, will be sponsoring a commemorative display of crosses on the Hogan Courtyard.

Nov. 14-18 Holy Cross Pax Christi students and one College chaplain will travel to the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Washington, D.C. The annual gathering provides an opportunity for members of the Ignatian family (Jesuit institutions and larger church) to come together in the context of social justice and solidarity to learn, reflect, pray, network, and advocate together. The gathering takes place each year in the spirit of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador, using their lives and ministry as inspiration for discovering the injustices of today and how we might engage in them.

Students attending are Sloane Burns, of Tucson, Ariz.; James Cannon, of Fairfield, Conn.; Mary Cunningham, of Westford, Mass.; Michael Hanlon, of Paradise Valley, Ariz.; Erin Hillis, of Derby, Conn.; Mackenzie Horl, of Garden City, N.Y.; Risako Iida, of Tokyo; Cindy Nguyen, of Worcester, Mass.; Alessandro Rotella, of Rego Park, N.Y.; Laura Sheedy, of Milford, Conn.; Adam Sykura, of Wethersfield, Conn.; Mary Kate Vanecko, of Chicago; Anthony Yakely, of Hillsborough, N.J.

Nov. 16 7 p.m., St. Joseph Chapel Rev. James Hayes, S.J., associate chaplain for mission at Holy Cross, and Marty Kelly, associate chaplain and advisor to Student Programs for Urban Development at Holy Cross, will co-preach at the 7 p.m. Mass. Both have traveled to El Salvador. Following Mass, there will be a procession and ritual at the memorial in the Chapel Plaza followed by fellowship with the Latin American Student Organization. The Spanish Choir will sing.

Nov. 17 7 p.m., Rehm Library Jesuits, faculty members and students will take part in a panel discussion titled “The Jesuit Martyrs and Those Who Paid the Price: Returns on a Jesuit Education.”

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