Remembrance of the Jesuit Martyrs Begins

Nov 11, 2009

        As the nearly 400 in attendance filed into the Houlihan-Mclean center on Oct. 28 to hear Rev. Rodolfo Cardenal, S.J., former vice rector of the University of Central America, speak about the murder of six Jesuit priests and educators, their housekeeper and her daughter, images of the martyrs' faces standing on easels before the stage replaced any abstractions attendees had about their self-sacrifice.

         University of Scranton President Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., used the words of another martyr, Arch Bishop of El Salvador Oscar Romero, in calling the martyrs the "voice of the voiceless" while introducing Rev. Cardenal.

        On his first stop of a series of speaking engagements across the United States, Fr. Cardenal said that the martyrs, killed in their sleep by government agents on Nov. 16, 1989, helped not only their fellow countrymen, but also the world at large.
        "The martyrs gave up their lives to free and save others from injustice and oppression," Fr. Cardenal said. "From a theological perspective, they fought to free the world from sin."

        Fr. Cardenal explained that the martyrs' hope for a world free of injustice and oppression was what powered them. But, while hope inspired them, it did not make their work any easier.

        "Let us not forget that hope is born from injustice and oppression to free the victims," Fr. Cardenal said. "Hope is not easy, but it is real."

        The University of Scranton will also offer a Mass to commemorate the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Byron Recreation Complex. In addition, Scranton Jesuits, faculty and staff will meet with students to discuss their recollection of hearing the news 20 years ago during an event planned for Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Fireplace Lounge of the DeNaples Center. A Latin American Film Series commemorating martyrs is also planned for later this academic year, and in January, Fr. Pilarz will lead the senior administrators at Scranton in a pilgrimage to El Salvador to witness first-hand the legacy of the Jesuit Martyrs. As a team, they will reflect on the conditions in El Salvador and try to find ways to incorporate the legacy of the martyrs into each of their functional areas at Scranton.

        According to Fr. Pilarz in a notice sent to the campus community, "What happened at the University of Central America in 1989, as well as the need for continued solidarity with the third world, is critically important to Jesuit higher education and to our mission here at Scranton."

        Over the past 20 years, The University of Scranton has not forgotten the Jesuit Martyrs. Since 1999, Scranton students, faculty and staff have participated in the Bridges to El Salvador, a program founded by former Rector and Campus Minister at Scranton Rev. Brendan Lally, S.J., to foster a greater commitment to justice issues. In 2001, the University dedicated Martyrs Grove in an area near Campion Hall to serve as a reminder of the importance of their lives.

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