Thirty-one years ago today (December 2, 1980), Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donovan, Ita Ford and Maura Clark were killed in El Salvador. Last night at Iglesia de San Romero, I told their story, these women killed for the dangerous political act of walking with the poor and teaching them to read and write. They knew they were in danger and could have left. Like Rosa Parks, who on December 1, 1955 refused to give up her seat to a white man, being in the words of Martin Luther King, “anchored to that seat by the accumulated indignities of days gone and the boundless aspirations of generations yet unborn,” they were rooted to the spot by love and justice. Especially love.
Well. I didn't expect anyone to have heard of Dorothy, Ita, Maura and Jean. I wasn't too surprised that they hadn't heard of Rosa Parks. But they hadn't heard of Martin Luther King, either. Or global warming, I learned earlier in the week during a conversation about weather. Seems I'm constantly learning a little more about what it means to be imprisoned by poverty and isolation and undocumented status. The phrase, “set the captives free” has been burning for me since that day in September when we did just that.
Here's the thing, though. All of us have things to learn. All of us have things to teach. One day it occurred to me that perhaps I'm one of the captives getting set free, here. So I started thinking about that, and about all the things I'm learning. These days I feel like the guys are my spiritual directors, as I learn from them about staying in the moment. Their lives change so fast and unexpectedly, it's hard to make plans. It's like Jesus said in the Gospel reading this past Sunday: Stay awake! Stay alert! You don't know the day or the hour. That's the reality they live with.
This past Sunday morning we were hoping they'd be with us in Rochester for Mass. Folks had to work, though, so it didn't happen. Those of us who were there decided to celebrate a bi-lingual Mass, anyway, for practise. Pretty wonderful, really, that on the first Sunday of Advent we were waiting, preparing, hoping. That's Advent, right? Getting our hearts ready for the advent of the kindom of God. This Sunday they'll be moving, so definitely not with us, then. After that, we'll see. I long for the day when “us” is truly all of us.
On Monday, December 12 at 4 pm, there will be a vigil (co-sponsored by St Romero's) in front of the Federal Building, to commemorate the anniversary of the 1981 massacre of nearly 1,000 people (half of them children) in El Mozote, El Salvador, by soldiers trained at the School ofthe Americas and using weapons from the USA. John Honeck, who organized the vigil, has been consistent in his efforts to close the SOA for years.
Another consistent voice for peace, St Joe's own Harry Murray, was found guilty yesterday, along with 30 others, for their Good Friday protest at Hancock Airforce Base in Syracuse, protesting the drones. Harry points out that since drones are deployed from Hancock, that means people are being killed from there, which makes upstate New York a war zone. More here: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/12/2/hancock_38_defendants_found_guilty_for
Thank you to all of the Hancock 38, for your strong, clear witness for peace.
Sending love to Olga Lucia Alvarez, the Columbian womanpriest who puts the Spanish version of this bulletin on her blog each week. Olga is fighting cancer and your prayers would be welcome. Deepest sympathy to Myra Brown, whose husband, Derwin, died yesterday on their 10th wedding anniversary. Please hold the whole family in your prayers.
Come join us, any Sunday you like. We'd love to see you.
Blessings and love to all,
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620