El Salvador 2012 trip diary: Chalatenago

By Patricia Spross

Today, Christy from CIS took us to the wall with the names of civilians who were killed or are missing from the war. Thousands of names appeared. Families arrived to remember their loved ones.

Then we met the Maryknoll sisters and travelled to Chalatenango. Sister Mary Annel is a humble woman with a regal presence. She speaks of her 20 years of working with Aids patients in Central America, quietly mentioning that she is a doctor. Amid colorful mausoleums and bouquets of flowers, she leads us in prayer for her fallen sisters buried in Chalatenango. The 5 women murdered in 1980 in El Salvador

lived, as she does, helping the poor. The religious women, Father Romero and the Jesuits died because helping the poor to attain fair wages and education threatened the powerful and wealthy of this country.

Sister Mary shines with grace, intelligence, and kindness. She is a feminist in a paternalist Church. Although Church leaders have taken a misogynist detour, she continues to find her faith in the Gospels, which tell of Jesus´ kindness to women. Little-known writings of early Church women also keep her centered in faith. She gives me hope that the Church of my upbringing may not wither away.

Mary is another woman who will stand out when I remember this trip of extraordinary experiences.