Roses in December Delegation Pilgrimage to El Salvador and Honduras

Sister Mary Kay Flannery SSJ and Sister Sharon White SSJ
Photo: Pictured from left Mary Kay Flannery SSJ and Sharon White SSJ

To mark the 42nd Anniversary of the martyrdom of Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, an Ursuline Sister and Jean Donovan, a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, the SHARE Foundation and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) sponsored a delegation to El Salvador and Honduras. Sisters Mary Kay Flannery SSJ and Sharon White SSJ participated in this sacred pilgrimage from November 30—December 11, 2022. In addition to commemorating the anniversary Sisters Mary Kay and Sharon had an opportunity to learn of the present-day struggles of Hondurans.

Below are reflections from Sisters Mary Kay and Sharon:

Believe it or not, I was invited along with two others from our delegation who speak Spanish to be on a radio show which focused on human rights. It was quite an experience to be LIVE on Radio Progreso in Honduras! Radio Progreso, 103.3 FM in Honduras, has an hour-long program on Human Rights every Tuesday evening from 8-9 PM.

First of all, as representatives of various women’s religious congregations in the USA, we each shared our solidarity with the people of Honduras in all of their struggles for human rights, including environmental rights, especially the great need for clean water. We were also asked to share about our recent experiences in El Salvador, where we participated in processions and prayer rituals commemorating all the martyrs assassinated during the 12-year civil war from 1980-92. We had also just participated in an International Human Rights Forum in San Salvador and our interviewer knew that the Honduran people would be very interested to hear what we learned there. It was a wonderful opportunity to express our solidarity with all who listen to this popular weekly program.

Our delegation sponsored by Share Foundation and LCWR was given the opportunity to witness injustice firsthand. We awoke in the early morning to receive the news that Honduran President Castro declared a State of Exception. This meant that Castro does not have to follow many of then current laws established by Congress. As a result, people are living in fear that they or a family member will disappear or be taken to jail.

We met with groups who are particularly vulnerable. They seek to protect their water from a mining company, which has been digging miles of land and installing pipes to produce iron ore. The digging has created major pollutants in the San Pedro and Guapinol Rivers.

We traveled in pickup trucks over the shallower parts of the San Pedro River at four areas going to and coming from our destination. The water was noticeably brown and polluted. Then, we began our mountain hike, navigating mud-soaked rocks, helping one another safely reach what appeared to be a long mile walk up the mountain.

Our interesting trek landed us breathless as we beheld a beautiful waterfall providing clean, clear flowing water. Without hesitation, many of us dove into the cool pond at the base. The joyful solidarity rang out in the voices of all. That short swim was one of the most exhilarating parts of the delegation.

The joy was short-ived as we learned the sad reality that the mining company, Inversiones Los Pinares, did not go through the proper channels to secure the land. Additionally, President Castro promised to halt the mining project to investigate multiple threats to rivers. So far, she has failed to keep her promises, depriving the people the hope for clean water. Silence kills. We, as delegation, will use our voices, pens, emails, phones, visits to legislators and social media channels to proclaim that the United States government can no longer support the Honduran government, which does not support the human rights of its citizens.