Friday, July 3, 2015

University of Central America

Friday, July 3, 2015

We visited the University of Central America (the UCA). On the night of November 16, 1989, a Salvadoran Army patrol entered the UCA in San Salvador and massacred six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter. The murders were committed because the Jesuits were voicing concerns over the atrocities of human rights violations being committed by the government during the war. They were killed in the middle of the night. Some were killed in their rooms while others were dragged outside and killed. They were severely beaten before they were murdered.
We went into the chapel were there are several sketchings of people, bodies, and torture during the war. People keep these sketchings nearby because they want to remember the bad things so history does not repeat itself.
We went into the museum at the UCA about the martyrs of the Civil War. It had information about the Jesuit priests, the housekeeper and daughter, Romero, his friend Rutilio Grande, the American women and nuns that were killed, massacre sites, and the thousands of others who were killed during the war. They had blood spilled from the priests, Romero, and Rutilio Grande. Salvadorans certainly have a way of preserving things, even the bad things. They also had clothing the people were wearing when they died, maps, items that had been burned, and a book that was slashed by the people who murdered the priests.
Outside of the museum was a rose garden memorializing the people who were killed at the UCA. It was created by the housekeeper’s husband. Just around the corner from that was the room where the housekeeper, Elba, and her daughter, Celina, were raped and killed. Inside one rooms of the UCA are several photo albums of the victim’s bodies and body parts taken the morning they were discovered. It’s never easy to look at the photos, but it helps us to better understand what life was like for ordinary people during the Civil War.
Listening to a guide inside the museum of the martyrs


A cross showing the 6 Jesuits,
their housekeeper, and her daughter


Rutilio Grande's belongings

Oscar Romero's belongings

The five church women who were
raped and killed by the military

Remnants from the massacre at El Mozote

The six Jesuit priests who were murdered

The clothing the priests were wearing

Soil and grass stained with the blood of the Jesuits

A dictionary slashed by the military

The housekeeper and her daughter who were raped and murdered

Looking at photos of the murders

Listening to the story of how the Jesuits died

The chapel at the UCA

A painting inside the chapel

Divinia Providencia

Friday, July 3, 2015

We visited Divinia Providencia where Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero lived and was martyred in 1980. A brief history of Romero: Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was born on August 15, 1917, to Santos Romero and Guadalupe de Jesus Galdámez in Ciudad Barrios. He was born into a very poor family in a dirt floor home. At age 13 he began working to pay his way to seminary in San Miguel but was quickly promoted to seminary in San Salvador and finished his studies in Rome. On April 4, 1942, Romero was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome. Romero remained in Italy to obtain a doctoral degree in theology which specialized in ascetical theology.
On February 23, 1977, he was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador. His appointment was met with surprise, dismay, and even incredulity. While this appointment was welcomed by the government, many priests were disappointed, especially those openly aligning with Marxism. The Marxist priests feared that his conservative reputation would negatively affect liberation theology's commitment to the poor.
On March 12, 1977 a progressive Jesuit priest and personal friend of Romero, Rutilio Grande, who had been creating self-reliance groups among the poor campesinos (country people), was assassinated. His death had a profound impact on Romero who later stated, “When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, ‘If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path’.” In response to Father Rutilio’s murder, Romero revealed a radicalism that had not been evident earlier. He spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations, and torture. As a result, Romero began to be noticed internationally.
On March 23, 1980, the day before his death, he gave a homily speaking directly to the soldiers. “Brothers, you are from the same people; you kill your fellow peasants… No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God… In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people, I ask you, I implore you, I command you in the name of God: stop the repression!”
Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980 while celebrating Mass in San Salvador at a small chapel in Divinia Providencia. He was speaking about a parable just before he was shot: “Those who surrender to the service of the poor through love of Christ will live like the grain of wheat that dies… The harvest comes because of the grain that dies… We know that every effort to improve society, above all when society is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.”

The little museum inside Divinia Providencia

Where Romero's heart was buried

Listening to the story of Romero

Artifacts of Romero

Photos from when Romero died and from his funeral

Artifacts of Romero

Romero's documents

The clothes in which Romero was killed

Inside the chapel where Romero was killed

Hearing the story of his death



National Cathedral

Friday, July 3, 2015

We visited the National Cathedral where martyr and Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero was buried. During Romero’s funeral in 1980, there were too many people to hold it inside the church. It was held outside in the nearby park. During the funeral, in an attempt to terrorize people, men (the Salvadoran army) fired into the crowd from the National Palace nearby. At the same time cars on the 4 corners around the park exploded. Romero’s body in its casket was carried hand over hand into the basement of the National Cathedral. The priests were whisked away into the Cathedral as 7,000 other people crowded in. The Cathedral is only meant to hold 3,000. While only 60-70 people died that day the government had achieved its purpose of terrorizing the people. Many people call Romero’s death the beginning of the war.

Romero's tomb

Listening to the story




A shirt stained worn by Romero when he was murdered.
It has become an official relic.

Inside the cathedral

We made it to El Salvador!

Day one: Thursday, July 2, 2015

Well, guess what... I’m back in El Salvador!!

I arrived this morning with 6 other people from my church that are a part of Westminster Presbyterian’s delegation. They include Bob Railey, Craig and Lanice Goettsch, Jordan Rhondes, Emily Moore, Troy Ikeda, and me. We’re a fabulous delegation if I might say so myself.

We haven’t done a lot today since we just got here. We made a quick stop for a pupusa lunch after leaving the airport. That first bite into a real Salvadoran pupusa is always heavenly! Then we headed to the artisan market to shop around for souvenirs and gifts for other people. The market isn’t huge, but it’s packed with all sorts of souvenirs you’d want to take home.

Our one historical journey today was to the Memorial Wall in Parque Cuscatlán. The wall is a monument to memory and truth; a remembrance of all the civilians who were murdered during the Salvadoran Civil War. On the wall are the names of 30,000 civilians who were officially declared murdered during the Civil War. However, at least 75,000 innocent civilians were killed during the war. The remaining civilians have yet to be declared “officially” decreased. On the wall, the names of those murdered were listed by year, staring in the 1970s when tensions were mounting between the government/military and the campesinos (peasants) of El Salvador. The wall also lists various massacres that occurred around the country during the war.

I love having the opportunity to visit these important history sites again and again. I always learn or see something new. The perspectives of the delegates and their thoughts are unique. And my pictures are always different.

In the evening we ended up at our hotel/hostel, Los Pinos. We got checked in and then took a quick walk to a restaurant down the street named El Sopón Típico. I had planned on a bean soup, but somehow ended up with rooster soup. I was a little weary because of my own rooster, Chelito, who I raised in the past when I lived in El Salvador in 2011. But the soup was tasty. When we finished we wandered back to the hotel and turned in for the night.

I believe it’s time for bed. Tomorrow is another long day.
I feel I might be saying that several times this week.

Outside the plane window



Biggest rice pupusa in the world

At the Memorial Wall

Listening to the story







Monument of Memory and Truth

Romero's name on the wall



Rooster soup!