Santa Clara Magazine

Letters

By SCM Readers

Remembering the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador

I was editor-in-chief of The Santa Clara student newspaper in November 1989 when the news came to campus about these horrific murders. Covering the story for the SCU community was a life-altering experience. May these eight always be remembered among the many victims of El Salvador’s long and bloody civil war.

GENEVIEVE SEDLACK WALLER ’90
Chicago
 

I certainly enjoyed reading Ron Hansen’s essay, “Hearing the cry of the poor: The Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador,” in the Fall 2014 SCM. In 2000 I visited the site of these murders as well as other sites in El Salvador and Guatemala. At our last stop in Santiago, Guatemala, where Fr. Stanley Rother was murdered, we had the opportunity to meet several Guatemalans. From these meetings a friendship developed, and I came home with that love and a purpose to help these wonderful people. The Marin County Guatemalan Mission Program was established. For the past 14 years, we have gathered money and goods to fulfill this mission. If it were not for the assassination of Msgr. Óscar Romero and other religious leaders in El Salvador and Guatemala, I would never have had the opportunity to come to El Salvador or Guatemala and meet the Mayan people, and this mission program would never have been established.

BILL CUNEO ’60
San Anselmo, California
 

In 1982, I met a young boy in San Jose who was to be sent back to El Salvador. I brought him home, where he joined our family for a year. My children were all in their teens and welcomed this boy into our family. We were able to get a firsthand education about the atrocities that were happening in El Salvador. He worked part time and attended high school. After the year it was time for him to move on, so with the money he saved he flew to Washington, D.C. He became involved with the sanctuary movement. We hear occasionally from this young man and he is still in the U.S. and doing well.

KAY HARRISON
Santa Clara
 

I found “Hearing the cry of the poor,” “The open window,” and “What do you stand for?” to be deeply moving. These stories brought me back to the early 1980s when, despite keeping up with the news, I was unaware of the atrocities affecting our neighbors to the south.

Then my husband, Peter Michelozzi M.A. ’70, and I met Bill Cane, founder and director of If, a nonprofit in Watsonville, California, focused on small projects to help the poor in Latin America. Our education began. The organization helped Salvadoran refugees gain asylum in the United States, and one family eventually moved into the first Habitat for Humanity house in Santa Cruz, California. We then worked with If and Habitat in Guatemala, where, during one trip, we visited the site of the massacre in Rabinal. Our education continues.

BETTY NEVILLE MICHELOZZI M.A. ’68
Aptos, California
 

Lucía and Jorge Cerna exhibit unbelievable courage in speaking the truth. May our Lord bless them and hold them in His loving hands.

CARMEN HARTONO
Oakland
 

Thanks to the author for this excellent overview. In relation to the 25th anniversary, I have given some introductory presentations in the U.S. about the martyrs that can be viewed here: youtube.com/user/josephmulligan1.

JOE MULLIGAN, S.J.
Managua, Nicaragua
 

Football returns to Santa Clara

Thanks to Ann Killion on her fine article about football and Santa Clara [Fall 2014 SCM]. A proud SCU graduate, I have attended almost all of the 49er games since I was a young boy in 1948. What hurts is one mistake—Santa Clara did not win the 1962 College World Series. We were edged out in extra innings by Michigan. As I was there and part of it, I can never forget.

JERRY GLUECK ’62
Walnut Creek, California

Absolutely the right call on Jerry Glueck’s part—score an editorial error on that play. The series ended in a “15-inning title cruncher ... tied for the longest game in World Series history,” as Mark Purdy wrote in “Storybook season” in our Summer 2012 edition. Read it at santaclaramagazine.com/1962baseball. —Ed.
 

Mother, father, and extraordinary leadership

As a proud native Californian of Azorean Portuguese heritage, I wanted to point out to you the error in your note on the passing of John Vasconcellos ’54, J.D. ’59 [“A thunderous presence in the Capitol,” Fall 2014 SCM]. You stated that his mother was Portuguese and his father was German. I don’t know about his mother, but his father was the Portuguese parent. I believe I have read that his father’s family came from the island of Flores in the Azores where that name is common.

SUSAN VARGAS MURPHY
O’Connor Nursing School Class of 1965
Sacramento


Thanks for the obituary for John Vasconcellos. A good elegy.

Oversights: John may have been class president his sophomore year, but, more significant, he was student body president, valedictorian, and winner of the Nobili Medal—a triple crown that, in the pre-coed days, was rare. These honors signaled his extraordinary leadership, commitment to service, and communication skills, all of which contributed to his political genius.

In later years, John drifted from the Church, though he exemplified the Christian values he absorbed in 11 years of Jesuit education as well as any Santa Claran I know. As a California legislator, he championed principles of access to higher education and health care that were informed by a fierce belief in justice and equity. Much of what he accomplished in both of those arenas (where a lot of his energy was focused) sprang from the kind of preferential option for the poor that has characterized Catholic values since Vatican II.

Coincidentally, the Fall magazine also contains a brief quote from Jon Sobrino, S.J., from his address to the graduates of the Jesuit School of Theology. Sobrino speaks of his martyred colleague from El Salvador, Jesuit theologian Ignacio Ellacuría, and his vision of a “civilization of poverty.” (The Nov. 10, 2014, issue of America Magazine carries a version of Sobrino’s entire address, which elaborates on this concept.) I believe that Vasconcellos, who was a bit put off by Santa Clara’s sometimes prosperous face to the world, would have welcomed that view. “He was a man, take him for all in all, [we] shall not look upon his like again.”

RICHARD W. JONSEN ’55
Broomfield, Colorado

“I was raised to be charming, not sincere.”

With great zest and zeal, I read “Happily ever after the fact” [Fall 2014 SCM]. The article started with my favorite line from my favorite musical, and I saw a familiar-looking picture. When I scanned the rest of the pictures on the page, I was thrilled to see my younger sister, Safiya Fredericks, in the last photo. Safiya was 6 when I left home to go to SCU. [She played the witch in the San Francisco Playhouse production of Into the Woods, with Noelani Neal ’13 as Rapunzel.] I remember Safiya’s excitement when she visited me at my dorm and later at my off-campus apartment on Main Street. Thank you for including her in the photo. I feel that in a small way, with three SCU grads in the production, she hasn’t quite left the SCU family.

JACQUELINE FREDERICKS-CISNEROS ’91
San Pablo, California

We note that Jacqueline’s sister studied theatre in London and Southern Cal. We like threads that connect across the years and cities, too. —Ed.

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