Fortieth Anniversary of the Four US Women

Published date:
14 November 2020

This December sees the fortieth anniversary of the martyrdom in El Salvador of four Catholic missionaries from the United States.

Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Cleveland Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Donovan were raped and murdered by five members of the El Salvador National Guard on 2 December 1980. It happend just nine months after the martyrdom of St Oscar Romero.

You can read more about the lives of these four women and what happened to them by clicking HERE, where you can also watch the documentary, Roses in December, about them.

Around the world events are taking place to remember these four martyrs. 

In Chalatenango, El Salvador, Bishop Oswaldo Escobar OCD of the Diocese of Chalatenango will lead a Remembrance Liturgy at the tomb of the Maryknoll sisters, Ita Ford and Maura Clarke (see right), at 3pm GMT. At 4pm, he will celebrate Mass in the Cathedral. It will be the formal liturgucal closure of the Salvadoran Martyrial Jubilee Year. Join the liturgy at 4pm GMT by clicking HERE.

In Santiago Nonualco, El Salvador, Bishop Bolaños of Zacatecoluca and Fr Paul Schindler will celebrate Mass at the Shrine of the Four Women Martyrs, also at 4pm GMT.

In Rome, Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ will celebrate Mass at 6.30pm (5.30pm GMT) with members of Religious orders at the Oratory of St Francis Xavier del Caravita, organised by the Caravita Community with the JPIC Commission of USG and UISG, alongisde the Romero Trust. Join the liturgy via Zoom by clicking HERE.

In the UK, a service remembering the women martyrs of El Salvador will be live-streamed from the church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Hayes, London. Due to current restrictions, we are not able to gather together in person. Please join us online for the service by the Conference of Religious of England and Wales, supported by CAFOD, Pax Christi, and the Archbishop Romero Trust. Led by Fr Paul Smyth cmf, Sr Anne Griffin SSHJM and Pat Gaffney, it will include a reflection by Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ. 

It will take place at 7pm on Wednesday, 2 December. Join by visiting:, or on the parish YouTube channel by clicking HERE.

In the US, the AUSCP Gospel Nonviolence Working Group are holding 'Remember and Recommit', a webinar with four Ursuline and Maryknoll sisters. Join at 9pm GMT by clicking HERE.

The Duke Divinity School and the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church are holding a concert and worship service commemorating the 40th anniversary of Oscar Romero's martyrdom alongside the Four Women martyrs, also on 2 December at 10.30pm (GMT). Information and registration HERE.

And in New York, the Maryknoll Sisters are holding an Anniversary Service at midnight GMT: Called by the Energy of the Four Churchwomen - We Too Respond! Join online by clicking HERE. More information on their website.

Also in New York, from 11pm-12.30am GMT Ed and Donna Brett are presenting, The Four Martyred Churchwomen: Allies in Today’s Struggle for Social Justice, via a Zoom meeting sponsored by Fordham University. Registration required by clicking HERE.  

On the day before, Tuesday 1 December at 7pm, you can watch the 1982 documentary about the martyrs, 'Roses in December', followed by a Question and Answer with the Chair of the Romero Trust, Julian Filochowski. To register please click HERE