The word martyr means “witness.”
Forty years ago, on November 20, 1976, Maryknoll missionary Father Bill Woods died in a suspicious plane crash in Guatemala. Even if it was not a deliberate attempt to kill him (and those with him on the plane), Fr. Bill is a martyr, a witness to the God who takes the side of the poor.
But this “Texas cowboy for Jesus,” (as his friend Bishop Mc Carthy called him) had been receiving death threats and had been warned by the US ambassador to Guatemala that his life was endangered.
But Padre Guillermo did not leave his beloved people, the indigenous whom he served in Ixcan, Guatemala, developing a new way of life for these people.
Before he died, he wrote a letter to the president of Guatemala:
“I love Guatemala and especially those peasants who are putting so much effort into developing a new life in the Zona Reina [in the Ixcán]. It would break my heart to have to leave the country. I repeat, my only interest is to help make the peasants better Christians, better Guatemalans, and thus help them produce more for themselves and for their country.”
Padre Guillermo is one of the witnesses of the love of Christ for the poor, a witness to the mercy of God, and a sign of the all for justice.