Silas Henderson SDS

martyrsDevotion to the martyr-saints during Eastertide can add to, rather than detract from, the joy of Easter. Silas Henderson SDS is a member of the US Province of the Society of the Divine Saviour (Salvatorians).

In October 1979, the nation of El Salvador entered into a civil war that not only allowed oppressive military dictators to seize control of the country, but it also led to the systematic murder and oppression of tens of thousands of Salvadorans, particularly poor farmers.

Among those who lost their lives defending the rights of the poor and the Church were the archbishop of San Salvador, Blessed Oscar Romero (d. March 24, 1980), and four American missionaries: Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clark and Ita Ford, Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Donovan (d. December 2, 1980). On 16 November 1989, a group of six Jesuits, along with their housekeeper and her daughter, were shot to death in their shared home because of their support of the poor. The total number of those murdered, raped, and tortured is known only to God.

In the year after Archbishop Romero's murder, the Jesuits of El Salvador began a bi-weekly publication known as Letter to the Churches, recounting the experiences of those who suffered at the hands of the military junta and its guerilla soldiers.

In one issue, Letter to the Churches published the testimony of Ismael, a lay catechist, who spoke of living with the poor in a war zone and of his journey with the people as they fled into the mountains seeking safety. There, hiding beneath the branches of trees, with stars providing their only light (because they were afraid to light candles), the people would retell and reflect on the stories of the Gospel.

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