2005-12-02 / Community

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary In Murder of Rockaway Nun

By Howard Schwach

On December 2, 1980, three nuns and a lay missioner, including local resident Maura Clarke, were found murdered in a field in El Salvador.

The four, Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and lay missioner Jean Donovan, were in Central America working with the poor.

On that evening, Kazel and Donovan drove their van to the airport outside of San Salvador to pick up the two Maryknoll sisters, Clarke and Ford, who were returning from a regional assembly in Managua.

After leaving the airport, their van was stopped at a roadblock by members of El Salvador’s National Guard.

The four women were taken to an isolated field, abused and then shot. Their bodies were buried in a shallow grave along a roadside. After international horror over the killings, the National Guardsmen involved were arrested and tried.

Clarke was born on January 13, 1931. She joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1950 and in 1959 she was sent to Central America where she taught school and did pastoral work in a remote area of Nicaragua.

The middle school at Stella Maris High School in Rockaway Beach is dedicated to her name.

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