A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sister Maura
By Eileen Markey, Nation Books
“Portrait of a Martyr,” a review of Markey’s book that appeared in America Magazine on January 2, 2017, gives insight into the person and life of Maryknoll Sister Maura Clarke and the evolution of mission. (http://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2016/12/22/remembering-martyrs-their-humanity-well-their-faith)
Reviewer Elizabeth Kirkland Cahill writes, “Maura’s years in Central America coincided with a period of sweeping transformation in the church’s understanding of its role in the world. Unsurprisingly, the Maryknoll nun’s perspective evolved accordingly. Originally focused on teaching that would allow poor Nicaraguans to improve their lives, Maura’s sense of purpose became more radically identified with the poor and infused with a desire to change the structural inequities that created and perpetuated poverty. Yet her posture was not political, but spiritual: The work of the Christian is to build the world Christ ushered in, by affirming the dignity and basic human rights of every person. Maura’s approach to the people of Nicaragua and El Salvador was one of complete, transcendent generosity and love. …”
In what could be advice for Affiliates, the reviewer quotes a Salvadoran nun who told the nephew of Ita Ford, MM*, “You do not have to be in El Salvador to continue your aunt’s mission.” After returning to the US, the nephew “realized the dream of opening Cristo Rey New York High School, a college preparatory school whose students—75 percent of whom are Latino—engage in a rigorous curriculum and work at entry-level business jobs. These students ... honor Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, and their two colleagues as the spiritual founders of Cristo Rey New York.” Affiliates also continue Maura’s and Ita’s mission when working not so far afield, in their own neighborhoods.
*Four church women were martyred in El Salvador in 1980: Maura Clarke and Ita Ford of Maryknoll, Ursuline sister Dorothy Kazel, and laywoman Jean Donovan.