Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:
Twenty years ago, in the midst of a decade-long civil war, six Jesuits, their cook, and her daughter, were killed in the Jesuit community at the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in San Salvador, El Salvador. The Jesuits had been the target of numerous death threats during the civil war, due to their outspoken defense of human rights, their call for peace, and their insistence that the government address the underlying social and economic problems fueling the conflict. The international outrage and subsequent U.S. Congressional investigation provoked by the murders ultimately led to reconciliation talks and the establishment of a "truth commission" in the early 1990s. Some of those directly responsible for the killings were eventually brought to justice.
This weekend, a delegation of Georgetown faculty and administrators is traveling to San Salvador to participate in a variety of commemorations and symposia at the UCA. A group of students will follow in March for a week-long immersion experience in El Salvador sponsored by Campus Ministry. More immediate events to mark this sad anniversary include a memorial prayer service on Sunday, November 15 at 8:30 p.m. in Dahlgren Quadrangle, and a panel discussion with faculty and students, "The UCA Martyrs and Their Legacy to Jesuit Education," on Monday, November 16, 7:30 p.m. in the Philodemic Room, on the second floor of Healy Hall. On Tuesday, November 17, a film about the life of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero will be shown in the ICC auditorium at 9 p.m.
In this time of remembering, let us recommit ourselves to becoming "women and men for others" and to cultivating a faith that promotes justice in our world. I hope many of you can attend these events and celebrate the remarkable faith and work of this group of individuals.
You have my very best wishes.
John J. DeGioia