Today the Vatican announced the recognition of ten martyrs of Guatemala, including three Spanish Missionary of the Sacred Heart priest. They and seven lay Guatemalans were martyred in the midst of the terror of the early eighties. I am very glad that the Vatican is acknowledging a few of the thousands of lay Guatemalans martyred for their commitment to their faith.
Many years ago I found a book on the priests. Here are a few quotes from them.
Fr. José Maria Gran Cirera, MSC, Spanish priest, Missionary of the Sacred Heart, and Domingo Bats, sacristan, killed near Xiexojbitz, in the municipality of Chajul, El Quiche, Guatemala, 4 June, 1980.
“I am finding out what Christmas is. It is that God came among human beings to give meaning to all of them, principally the poorest and those disillusioned with life, to give them hope. This is what I am coming to understand more and more every year that I am in contact with the peoples of Quiché. They help me live the hope and joy which Jesus brings.”
Fr. Juan Alonso Fernández, MSC, Spanish priest, Missionary of the Sacred Heart, killed, in La Barranca, between Uspantán and Cunén, El Quiché, Guatemala, 15 February, 1981.
“In no way do I want anyone to kill me; but I am not at all ready, out of fear, to shrink from being present among these people. Once again I now think: ‘Who can separate us from the love of Christ?’” (in a letter to one of his brothers)
“One of the attitudes which most impresses me about the personality of Jesus Christ is his total availability to his Father and to all people. After that, his freedom in the face of the formalities, the ideologies of his time, the persons, the powers, the interests.”
Fr. Faustino Villanueva, MSC, Spanish priest, Missionary of the Sacred Heart, worked with the indigenous, martyred in Joyabaj, El Quiché, Guatemala, July 10, 1980.
“We cannot leave the people abandoned. The situation is very bad.”