Fr. Richard Sotelo, SJ
Fr. Richard Sotelo, SJ
Fr. Richard Sotelo, SJ, is the chaplain for the Department of Homeland Security’s El Paso Processing Center.

Education, knowledge, is a dangerous, uncontrollable reality that can give way to either genuine inner freedom or a recurring personal bondage.

Five of the eight whose blood witnesses to the brutality of fear and ignorance were natives of the Iberian Peninsula, whose journeys as seminarians led them from their native lands where thinking outside the box was a capital crime. Isn’t it ironic that Francisco Franco and his regime can be considered one of the godfathers of liberation theology?

Three of the eight whose blood witnesses to the brutality of fear and ignorance were natives of El Salvador.

One was the founder of Fe y Alegrí(Faith and Joy) in El Salvador in 1969. The emphasis of this work of God is the creation of popular educational centers, establishing medical clinics that offer medical attention free of charge in rural communities, and community-based workshops. The scope of their work is to address the most abandoned, forgotten and invisible sectors of the Salvadoran population.

Two were women. They bring to mind the women who provided for Jesus and his disciples out of their means (Lk. 8:3). One shared her culinary talents with a new burgeoning generation of seminarians. She and her daughter fled from gunfire and violence near their cottage. These women were not accidentally there at an inopportune moment. Their presence witnesses to seeking the hospitality of the house of the companions of Jesus. We who are of this company should be humbled by their sense of confidence as it serves as a reminder to each one of us who remain that Jesus in his ministry encountered every woman “…as a person in her own right.”

What were they doing individually and collectively that so upset the peace and good order of El Salvador? To stand with — to merely accompany the poor and powerless — is to stand outside of the established order. It calls to mind the thousands of executions, killings, murders, slayings of this particular civil war, which in turn focuses us to remember assassinations, exterminations, slaughter in other conflicts and confrontations.

The question as we remember these eight is simple: How is it we “…resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain?”

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America 2/18/19

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Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos
The Jesuit Retreat Center of Los Altos has offered prayerful solitude and inspiring vistas to those seeking spiritual rejuvenation since 1925.