Marquette Wire

Students, faculty return from El Salvador

Photo+by+Matthew+Serafin%2Fmatthew.serafin%40marquette.edu
Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

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Honoring the 25th anniversary of the martyrdom of six Jesuits at the University of Central America, 30 Marquette students, faculty and administration traveled to El Salvador.

“Learning about the martyrs and the examples they set … there was no way I couldn’t go,” said Wyatt Massey, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences.

The group engaged in different events including masses, academic symposiums and a candlelight vigil geared toward commemorating the memory of the UCA martyrs. The events honored the work the Jesuits did for the community of El Salvador, and how other community leaders continue the mission today.

According to Briana Erhard, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, the significance of having students, faculty and administration on the trip was to truly understand the mission of a Jesuit university.

“If you really want to understand that mission then it’s important to look at what the UCA martyrs did,” Erhard said. “They lived the mission to their deaths.”

Massey described one of the events, which were held at the university at the start of the weekend that was most memorable to him.

“There was an interpretive dance and number of the deaths of the martyrs to reenact the violence and brutality of what happened,” Massey said.  “The dancing and the music took something that was very violent and ugly and made it into something beautiful at the same time.”

Erhard described the conversation of the academic symposium. Congressman Jim McGovern, former provincial directors for the Jesuits and directors from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) was one of a few officials in attendance.

“They spoke in English and Spanish about the impact of the death of the martyrs 25 years later and added a kind of ‘What now?’ to the conversation,” Erhard said. “The bilingual aspect of the conversation shows the culture of the event and comes alive through the people speaking in their native language.”

Both Massey and Erhard expressed the importance of having the opportunity to hear direct insight from people of the El Salvadorian community about their experiences during the time of the Salvadoran Civil War from 1979 to 1992.

“Some of them were there during and after murders and talked about the bombings that happened on campus,” Erhard said.

“It’s important to understand that although this happened 25 years ago, it’s sill fresh in people’s minds because they lost family members,” Massey said. “People are still in areas of poverty and violence because of issues in the Civil War were never settled.”

Massey and Erhard acknowledged the gravity of importance for Marquette students to appreciate an opportunity such as a trip to El Salvador and have an opportunity to experience different cultures.

“A lot of Marquette students come from areas across the nation where people are like us so we only know one way of life, but there are thousands of ways of life” Erhard said. She continued that if students really want to be educated they should branch outside of the classroom because a class can keep students sheltered.

“Marquette talks a lot about creating people of change and inspiring people to set the world on fire,” Massey said. “If you want to have a mission the UCA martyrs are the ultimate example.”

Wyatt Massey is a former Marquette Wire employee. 

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