The GUSA Senate passed a resolution to commemorate the El Salvador Jesuit Martyrs in honor of November being Jesuit Heritage Month at their Nov. 10th meeting.
On November 16, 1989, Jesuits Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J., Segundo Montes, S.J., Juan Ramón Moreno, S.J., Joaquín López y López, S.J., Amando López, S.J., their housekeeper Elba Ramos, and her 15 year-old daughter Celina Ramos were killed at the University of Central America in El Salvador.
A group of U.S. sponsored soldiers committed the murder in the capital San Salvador during the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992). The resolution states that the Jesuits were killed “for advocating for the poor in their country and against the human rights abuses carried out by the government.”
Sens. Miguel Zamudio (COL ’20) and Peter Hamilton (COL ‘20) introduced the resolution to remember the Jesuits who lost their lives and acknowledge the integral role of Jesuits in the Georgetown community.
“The anniversary of the killing of the martyrs took place on November 16th, 30 years ago,” Hamilton said. “It is an important part of the Jesuit and Ignatian community overall.”
According to Hamilton, the resolution is also aimed to support Georgetown’s Jesuit members of the administration and faculty. “This is to honor their memory but also to proactively recognize Georgetown’s Jesuit history and the presence of Jesuits in our community,” Hamilton said.
Then Sen. Zev Burton (SFS ’22), who has resigned since the Nov. 10 meeting, commented that Jesuit high schools nationally were taking similar actions to celebrate the Jesuit martyrs. “It is definitely a very important milestone for the Jesuit community,” Burton said. “I think it is wise to stand in solidarity with the community.”
Sen. Leo Arnett (SFS ’22) supported the bill’s wider perspective, offering sympathy to all who suffered during the Salvadoran Civil War. “I think our Jesuit heritage at this university goes beyond just Catholicism,” Arnett said. “This bill does a good job, especially by bringing in the politics of it and how it affected everybody’s lives and not just the Catholic Church.”
Although unable to attend the meeting, Sen. Daniella Sanchez (COL ’22) called in to express concerns over telephone that the resolution did not mention the role of nuns during the war.
“In the future I would just like to promote being more inclusive. I understand that there is language to include everyone who was affected by this, but I feel like we are forgetting that nuns are part of this community,” Sanchez said. “We are always highlighting Jesuits and men. We also need to be highlighting the sacrifices of women.”
The bill includes language to commemorate the six Jesuits and two lay martyrs who were killed “as well as other Jesuits and tens of thousands of civilians killed.” But Sanchez advocated for an amendment to directly acknowledge the nuns who perished during the Salvadoran Civil War.
“Not only were Jesuits murdered, but nuns from the United States were murdered in that same event, but they are never highlighted. It is our place to highlight those who aren’t necessarily recognized,” Sanchez commented.
While no amendment was attached, the resolution passed unanimously.
At the following meeting on Nov. 17, GUSA Senate passed an additional resolution, sponsored by Sen. Sanchez, specifically acknowledging and commemorating the Sister martyrs of the Salvadoran Civil War.
The resolution honored four American women, Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Ursuline Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Donovan who were raped and assassinated in 1980 during the same war in which the Jesuits were martyred.
The resolution also encouraged Georgetown University, the Society of Jesus, Campus Ministry, and the student body to “increase the integration of the historical narrative of women within Jesuit history rather than separating their interconnected stories” and highlighted “the impactful contributions of women to the Catholic Church.”
The GUSA Senate will meet next at 5 pm on Nov. 24 in Healy 106.