Slain Jesuits Remembered

Slain Jesuits Remembered

Event marks anniversary of El Salvador murders

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

With prayers, hymns, homilies and reminiscences, Boston College paid tribute on Dec. 1 to the six Jesuits and two women slain at the University of Central America during the Salvadoran civil war 10 years ago, and honored those who sought justice for them.

Highlighting the commemoration was the East Coast premiere of "Enemies of War," a documentary which chronicles the killings of the eight by members of the US-backed Salvadoran military and subsequent efforts to identify those responsible. The film features two of the key players in the investigation, US Rep. John Joseph Moakley (D-Mass.) and his then-chief of staff, James McGovern - now also a Massachusetts congressman - both of whom were present at the screening in Devlin Hall.

US Rep. John Joseph Moakley (left) greets AVP Jack Neuhauser and School of Nursing Dean Barbara Munro at the Dec. 1 event.

Introducing the film, University President William P. Leahy, SJ, called on the audience of nearly 300 to "reflect on how we live our lives and how we promote social justice in our world."

Also cited at the event was University Chancellor J. Donald Monan, SJ, who has been credited with helping marshal Jesuits' response to the murders, and urging that Congress press the Salvadoran government to bring the killers to justice. Having noted during interviews for the film that the UCA massacre ultimately helped set the peace process in motion, Moakley and McGovern praised Fr. Monan in their remarks afterwards.

"BC played an important part in the investigation," Moakley said. "Fr. Monan single-handedly made a network of Jesuits to keep this thing going. You don't know hard it was to keep El Salvador in the newspaper after three or four months. The Jesuits did an outstanding job, and Fr. Monan, absolutely."

"With Fr. Monan came the prestige, the integrity and the alumni that were part of Boston College, and it really made an impression," said McGovern, who like Moakley was given a standing ovation. "I will forever be grateful to Fr. Monan for his involvement in this case."

Earlier, Fr. Monan joined Fr, Leahy and Jesuit Community Rector Francis Herrmann, SJ, in celebrating a Mass at St. Mary's Chapel in memory of the slain Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter. Moakley and McGovern attended the Mass, as did other members and guests of the University community, among them University trustees William Connell and John Connors Jr.

Noting that the Mass coincided with the feast of Jesuit martyrs St. Edmund and St. Robert, Fr. Leahy said it was appropriate to recall the sacrifice of the UCA victims "as we look to the renewal of our lives."

In his homily, Asst. Prof. Douglas Marcouiller, SJ (Economics), who was personally acquainted with the victims and had visited them shortly before their deaths, praised the priests' work on behalf of the poor and persecuted in El Salvador.

Recalling that one of the Jesuits said there would "always be room" at their table for him, Fr. Marcouiller said it was an invitation open for all to share in God's blessings.

"There will always be room at that table for you and me," said Fr. Marcouiller. "Let us go to that table."

Following the Mass and prior to the screening, a private reception at Burns Library was held to formally welcome and salute Moakley and McGovern. Connors, who called Moakley a "congressman for the world," served as emcee during the speaking program, and Fr. Leahy, Fr. Monan and Connell offered their tributes.

Also that evening, the Jesuit Institute sponsored a lecture by Thomas Schubeck, SJ, a visiting researcher from John Carroll University who had previously interviewed one of the Jesuits for a book on liberation theology.

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