December 2021 – Executive Director’s Reflections & News from El Salvador

Telling the Story

Did you ever wonder how the COAR News comes together? I approach it as telling the story of the COAR children and the world in which they live. I usually do it by looking at the latest pictures and thinking, “What story can I tell from these pictures?” Let me tell you, the pandemic has been challenging on the picture front. How many pictures of kids sitting in front of computers can there be? Actually, I’m happy to say: countless. They have computers, and internet, thank you. How many pictures of eating meals together, in pairs, at a celebration, can there be? I’m happy to say: countless. Thank you. How many pictures are there that convey the inner pain of abuse, abandonment, and cruelty can there be? I’m happy to say: none. These children are healing as they become young adults. That’s what you see in these smiling faces. Healing. Thank you. Merry Christmas and on to a much better New Year.

News from El Salvador

Good news, bad news, mixed news. The good news is that the beatification of Padre Rutilio Grande, SJ, is scheduled for January 22, 2022, in El Salvador. He was murdered on March 12, 1977, one month after his good friend, St. Oscar Romero, was installed as the Archbishop of San Salvador. Also murdered were two companions in the car with him, a 16 year old boy, Nelson Lemus, and an elderly man, Manuel Solórzano. They will also be beatified. Their murders set in motion the struggle of St. Romero to be the voice of the voiceless in the turmoil to come. It is bad news, terrible news, that this level of suffering was endured in El Salvador from 1977-1992 (the duration civil war). It is good news that they can face their complex and tragic history and honor this sacrifice. It is mixed news that El Salvador has still not fully recovered from the war, as seen in the enduring legacy of violence. But also, that Salvadorans work tirelessly for a more just and accountable government. As St. Pope Paul VI said: “If you want peace, work for justice.”