Xavier commemorates the 20th anniversary of six Jesuit priests martyred in El Salvador

A series of events on campus concludes with a gathering of those joining the protest of the School of the Americas | November 11, 2009

Xavier is joining other Jesuit institutions and the U.S. House of Representatives in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the assassinations of six Jesuit priests and two others in El Salvador on Nov. 16, 1989.

The prominent Jesuit priests, including the rector and vice rector of El Salvador's most prestigious university, were killed along with their cook and her daughter at the house as they slept. The Jesuits had been labeled subversives by the Salvadoran government for speaking out against its oppressive socioeconomic structure, and their assassinations were ordered because of their unwavering defense of the poor.

To mark the 20th anniversary of their martyrdom, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 761, "Remembering and commemorating the lives and work of (the Jesuit Fathers, their housekeeper and her daughter) on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of their deaths at the University of Central America Jose Simeon Canas in San Salvador, El Salvador." The resolution was sponsored by Rep. James McGovern (D) of Massachusetts.

Xavier is sponsoring several events that are free and open to the public. The events are organized by the Voices of Solidarity (VOS), a campus organization that came into existence at the time of the 10th anniversary and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The events are:

• Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7:00 p.m. in Bellarmine Chapel: A live feed from El Salvador allowing viewers to see the procession and vigil in San Salvador in remembrance of the Jesuit martyrs.

• Sunday, Nov. 15, at 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.: Student Masses in Bellarmine Chape with Mass petitions for the Jesuit martyrs in El Salvador.

• Monday, Nov. 16, from 1:15 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on Xavier’s Academic Mall: Human display of martyred Jesuits.

• Monday, Nov. 16, at 8:00 p.m. in Room 330 of the Gallagher Student Center: Showing of the film "Question of Conscience" to learn more about the six Jesuits and what they died for.

• Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 8:00 p.m. in Kelley Auditorium in Xavier’s Alter Hall: Brian Derouen discusses his act of civil disobedience crossing the line at the School of the Americas and how it has affected his life.

• Thursday, Nov. 19, at 8:30 p.m. in Bellarmine Chapel: Solemn procession and reflective vigil. Those traveling to Georgia for the annual School of the America’s protest from Nov. 20-Nov. 22 are meeting at Xavier’s Brueggeman Center and processing to Bellarmine Chapel in remembrance and to reflect on their role in this struggle.

SOA Watch is an independent organization that seeks to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work. Many of the squad who killed the martyrs were graduates of the SOA and the protest began on the first anniversary of their deaths. It is always the weekend closest to the anniversary.

Those killed in the attack were:

• Ignacio Ellacuria, 59, rector of the University of Central America and a leftist intellectual.
• The university's vice rector, Ignacio Martin-Baro, 50, founder and director of the Public Opinion Institute.
• Segundo Montes, 56, a sociology professor and Jesuit priest who did work on Salvadoran refugees in the U.S.
• Arnando Lopez, 53, a philosophy professor and Jesuit priest.
• Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, 71, a Jesuit priest and director of a university-affiliated center for humanitarian assistance.
• Juan Ramon Moreno, 56, a Spanish-born Jesuit priest and director of two university-related programs.
• Julia Elba Ramos, 42, a cook, and Cecilia Ramos, her daughter, 15.