One year ago today Fr. John Rausch and I were fortunate enough to accompany the members of CrisPaz to El Salvador for the 20th anniversary of the deaths of the six Jesuits, their cook and her daughter. In addition to going to the University of Central America for the 20th anniversary mass of the Jesuits, our pilgrimage also included visits to the Holy Ground where the four church women were slain and the chapel were Archbishop Romero was murdered.
Visiting those holy places was a powerful and moving experience for me and all of the people who were with us. The trip was important to me as well because I was able to visit with many families of the people who live in our mission areas. It was an opportunity for me to build bridges with their families in their homeland and remind me how interconnected we all are in this global village. In my conversations with so many people I was saddened by the constant fear of violence which hangs over their beautiful country. One man I met two days before I flew back to the U.S., whose sister lives in a Glenmary mission, was brutally gunned down by gang violence the next day. A violence that exists and is all too common amongst a generation of people who were born in the midst of the civil war and grew up seeing their mothers and fathers slaughtered in the streets.
This year I am not able to be present in El Salvador but I will be attending the gathering outside the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia to participate in the vigil to close the School of Americas. A way that I can be "Presente" to the people of our missions, their families in El Salvador and all the places where the violence continues to cause grief and suffering.