Monday, January 6, 2020

Day 1 - Visit to Christian base communities Pueblo de Dios en Camino in San Ramón (San Salvador) and Colón (Morazán).

Our guides for the week, Wendy and Jose of FUNDAHMER (Organization overview in English)

Beautiful meeting place of the People of God on the Way
The original facility was destroyed by flooding and landslides in 1982. The community now meets in this open-air space.
Friendly conversation prior to formal meeting
"We are the messengers of this Reign of God here in your midst. This reign of justices against all injustice, of truth against all lies and corruption, of life against all threats against life, of caring love against all egotism, of liberty against all oppression and slavery." 
- Father Pedro Declercq, People of God on the Way
Father Pedro spent his life nurturing the Christian base communities in El Salvador.

Once each month this faith community commemorates birthdays.
The cake becomes the means by which they celebrate communion.

After worship we purchased artisan crafts in the shop behind this wall. 
Recently Maryknoll sisters in the community held a workshop to teach
women struggling in poverty how to make paper flowers.

Birds nest in the leafy canopy overhead. 
The poster below is titled "Vivid thoughts of men and women who strengthen our Christian Commitment:
A Community persuades and convinces when it is the Community of Jesus."
Following our time at El Pueblo de Dios en Camino, we traveled five hours to Morazón to visit another Christian base community, Colón. We arrived a dusk to a moving musical welcome. See video below.
"Welcome, brothers and sisters, to this place, this heroic land."

For the next two nights, members of the two communities visited provided food and lodging (paid for by our fees to Fundahmer). 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Day 2 - Visit to Christian base communities Colón y El Rodeo in Morazán.

Colón - Christian base community

 Tortillas prepared over a traditional comal.
Meals provided by women in the community with much love
Melt-in-your-mouth plantains.

  School (The school year in El Salvador runs from January to November)
 Hills of Morazán
Poinsettia tree
 Why just knit when you can make a hammock?
Anyone want to learn? — "I do."
 Outdoor washing area (dishes, clothes, water for personal hygiene)
 Plastic bottles made into trash receptacle by folks in the community. 
Saint Romero Chapel
Those martyred in the 1970s and 1980s are ever present in the Christian base communities. 
Children dance in traditional costume to a song about Archbishop Romero.

 RMC Delegation with members of the Colón Christian base community
 "A church that doesn't join together with the poor is not the true church of Jesus Christ."
Angel with her Morazán family

El Rodeo - Christian base community

 Library/school built with funds (in part) from Fundahmer
"Welcome, dear brothers and sisters, to our community, El Rodeo.
It's a great honor to have you with us."
Soup bowls like this one . . .
come from the fruit of this tree.
Outdoor oven.
 Parting photo with our new El Rodeo friends.
Affinity of leaders

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Day 3 - El Mozote, Perquín and birthday celebration!

 It's not unusual to see trucks being used to transport people between towns.
Meeting place to deliver a hammock from Colón 

El Mozote

Memorial to the ca. 1,000 women, children and elderly massacred by US-supported government forces at El Mozote in December 1981
Wall displaying names of victims
 El Mozote Catholic Church . . . 
 pays tribute to the children whose lives were cut short.


 Brief visit to Perquín (near the border with Honduras) for lunch. The mural and swings are part of a preschool run by the Perquín Christian base community.
Time was short so saved a visit to the Museum of the Revolution for another time.

Happy Birthday!

Back at El Izote, our home base, we celebrate a very special birthday, with  ice cream cake,
 face decorating,
and smiles all around.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Day 4 - Hospital of Divine Providence (Chapel and home of Romero), Monseñor Romero Center (at the University of Central America), Observation point

Hospital of Divine Providence

Hospital Chapel 

The Hospital of Divine Providence, run by Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa, opened in 1966 to provide hospice care for terminal cancer patients. 
Archbishop Romero was assassinated at the hospital chapel while saying mass. 
"At this altar Monseñor Oscar A Romero offering his life to God for his people."
Rosi (left, of Fundahmer) and Oti (our guide who knew and worked for Romero). 

 RMC delegation, Wendy and Rosi (Fundahmer) and Oti (our chapel guide).  

Monseñor Romero's living quarters (on the grounds of the hospital)

As Archbishop, Romero was offered a spacious home and expensive car in a gated community. Instead he chose to live with the sisters in this modest three-room structure on the hospital grounds.
 Statue outside home. "Monseñor Romero – Prophet and Martyr"
Bed in one corner . . .  
 Desk, typewriter and radio/cassette player in other corner.
Romero's car . . . 
and driver's license.
Words of Monseñor Romero on the day of his death (the upper part from his radio broadcast, the lower part from his homily moments for the fatal shot was fired). 

Monseñor Romero Center at University of Central America

In addition to our tour of the Center, a present-day Jesuit professor compared/contrasted the practices of Christian base communities with those of liberation theologians. (Our speaker, a Spaniard, accepted a full-time position at the University immediately following the murder of the Jesuits professors in 1979.)

Scene of the murder of six Jesuit professors and two others by US-funded government forces in 1979. The site is now a memorial rose garden. 
Door to living quarters where government forces entered in the middle of the night.


Five of the six Jesuits were Spaniards; the sixth was Salvadoran. The university housekeeper and her daughter were also killed. The husband/father of the female victims was the gardener, who happened to be off campus the evening of the attack. 

 At least one of the Jesuit martyrs was a fan of the Beatles.


 "What does it mean to be a Jesuit? To commit oneself under the standard of the cross in the pivotal struggle of our time: The struggle for faith, the struggle for justice which that faith demands . . . We will not work in promoting justice without paying a price."
 Memorial altar triptych, rich in symbolism

Visitors breaking into spontaneous song at the tombs of the Jesuit martyrs.

 Below: More symbolism in this painting of eight victims.  

Los Planes de Renderos 

Vantage point overlooking San Salvador

 Pupusa dinner with employees of Fundahmer, including two cooks (left) and one of the founders (right).
 Our dependable, safe driver (left)
 Bird's-eye view of San Salvador.