Sister Dorothy Stang, US missionary, member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, defender of peasants and small farmers, was killed in a remote settlement in the state of Para, Brazil, on February 12, 2005. She was 73 years old and had served in Brazil since 1966.
Her death was described in GoodWorks (Spring-Summer 2005), in terms that seem to be taken directly from the early martyrologies:
While Sr. Dorothy walked on toward a local village, she heard taunts from men who had stopped alongside her. The rain poured as she stopped and opened her Bible. She read to the men. They listened to two verses, stepped back and aimed their guns. Dorothy raised her Bible toward them and six shots were fired at point blank range. She fell to the ground, martyred for her belief that all humans are due justice. As she died, she was reading, “Blessed are you who are poor.”
Sister Dorothy had a deep faith that was manifested in her commitment to the poor and marginalized of Brazil as well as to the care of the creation God has entrusted to us, particularly the Brazilian rain forest. She gave her life as a martyr, a witness, for the poor and the earth.
As she once said:
“I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.”