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Jean Donovan

Maryknoll Lay Missioners (MKLM) celebrates the late missioner Jean Donovan in a ceremony on Saturday, December 2, 2017. The event takes place from 9 am to noon at the Regina Coeli Building on the Maryknoll Sisters campus. This date commemorates the anniversary of the martyrdom of the four churchwomen in El Salvador in 1980. MKLM will honor Jean Donovan’s life and work with a ritual of receiving her beloved guitar and placing it in their Chapel.

The guitar is a gift from Father John Dear, a peace activist, author and Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Father Dear had received the guitar from Donovan’s best friend a few years ago. Dear was a good friend and had offered strong support to Jean’s family after her death. He officially gifted the guitar to MKLM this past October 30th during a presentation to their missioner candidates as a part of their formation.

Jean Donovan was born on April 10, 1953. She was the younger of two children and raised in an upper middle class family in Westport, Connecticut. She joined the Cleveland Diocese Mission Team to El Salvador, along with Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford and Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel. The diocese sent her to Maryknoll Lay Missioners for her formation and, from there, she was sent to El Salvador.

On December 2, 1980, Jean, Maura, Ita and Dorothy were taken by soldiers, abused, killed and buried in shallow graves in a rural area about 15 miles away from the San Salvador airport. Two days later, their bodies were discovered. Jean was 27 years old. Click here to learn about Jean’s life.

“It is a great honor for us to receive this symbol of a young lay woman who made an option for the poor to go to mission,” said Sam Stanton, MKLM executive director. “Despite the fact that Jean had so many material opportunities in her life in the US, she chose to serve in a distressed, war-torn country and ultimately lost her life while caring for the poor and working for justice. We honor Jean for her great courage and her witness to the Gospel.”

About Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Maryknoll Lay Missioners (MKLM) is a Catholic organization inspired by the mission of Jesus to live and work with poor communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas, responding to basic needs and helping to create a more just and compassionate world. Our Lay Missioners work to assist those living in extreme poverty, victims of human trafficking, people in prison and those affected by war and urban violence. They live and work with those they serve. They also offer their compassion and skills through more than 100 ministries which encompass healthcare, education, compassionate care of children and orphans, microenterprise, faith formation and restorative justice. To date, approximately 800 lay missioners have been involved in mission work around the world.