In addition to our productions, we can assist your faith community with a retreat, a faith formation single event, or a faith formation series on women in Scripture and Tradition.
What Others Have Said….
“I have waited 80 years to see the stories of women told in Church.”
“Inspiring! Very powerful! This has touched me in a place I didn’t even know was there. This was fabulous! I knew it would be good, but I had no idea how good.”
Sr. Barbara Staropoli, SSJ, Member of the SSJ Leadership Team, Rochester, NY “Their beautifully prepared presentations speak to me of the deep spirituality of these women. They make the words they proclaim and the extraordinary people they portray come alive in new and meaningful ways. The Women of the Well are a treasure!”
Sr. Nancy Hawkins, Associate Professor of Theology Studies, St. Bernard’s School of Theology & Ministry, Rochester, NY “This presentation, “Certain Women,” touched my heart profoundly. It was as if the four church women were in the room with me, speaking to me, face to face. “Certain Women” is a reverent, prayerful, and incredibly powerful experience that you will never forget. What a perfect way to honor these brave church women who gave their lives for the oppressed of El Salvador.”
Rev. Lee Ann Bryce, Pastor, Community Christian Church, Gates, NY ” When “Women of the Well” led us in Sunday morning worship with their marvelous rendition of “Mama’s Mansion,” it was one of the highlights of our year! Both children and adults alike were deeply moved by their portrayals of the Biblical women, as well as lesser known contemporary examples of women instrumental in sharing God’s justice and love. There was not a dry eye in the house and by the end of worship, we were all clapping and singing along with “There are many rooms in my Mama’s mansion!” I heartedly recommend their productions to any church. Great theology, sensitive portrayals, and incredible spirit characterize these terrific artists!”
Rev. Alexander Bradshaw, Pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Church, Rochester, NY ” We were deeply moved by the passion and sensitivity shown in the portrayal of the four American women murdered in El Salvador in 1980. We were given an insight into the lives of each of the women’s faith, determination, perseverance and compassion! We were also given an idea of the struggle that the poor have to endure in the face of oppression. It seems shocking that in this day and age such conditions should still continue. And it is a reminder to us that the proclamation of the Christian message will always be a dangerous challenge…. It was altogether a memorable evening. “
The following article ran in the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, NY on December 1, 2005
Visit the D&C at www.democratandchronicle.com
‘Certain Women’ tells a story of four missionaries
by MARK HARE
“As we do this,” says Gloria Ulterino, “it’s a way of giving meaning – not only to the lives of the women whose stories we tell – but to our own lives.”
Ulterino, a Catholic author and storyteller, was referring to the lives of Ita Ford, Jean Donovan, Maura Clarke and Dorothy Kazel – the four American church women who were murdered in El Salvador 25 years ago.
Two years ago, Ulterino and a colleague, Marilyn Catherine, wrote a storytelling prayer service in memory of the women. Its title, “Certain Women,” is a reference to the “certain women” mentioned in the Gospel of Luke, women who followed Jesus from Galilee, who were present at the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the empty tomb.
“It seemed very appropriate to refer to these women by that term,” Ulterino says. “They heard the call and they followed.”
Clarke, Ford and Kazel were Catholic nuns; Donovan was a lay missionary. Each was drawn to El Salvador by a love for the poor. As Jean Donovan put it, “They can teach you so much with their patience and their wanting eyes.”
The service combines music, Scripture readings, and a compelling narrative in the women’s own words taken from letters and conversations they had.
It is a powerful personal account of bloody days in El Salvador, and a war against the church, as the Salvadoran dictatorship took aim at the missionaries who gave the poor a voice.
They were not political activists, as they were called at the time, but spiritual activists. In Ita Ford’s words, “I kept asking myself, ‘Am I willing to suffer with the people here, the suffering of the powerless? Our only passion was the reign of God.'”
When a Jesuit priest was killed in 1977, it was clear that missionaries were in danger, but these “certain woman” would not – could not – leave. As Dorothy Kazel says in a letter recounted in this service:
“My beloved friend, the mission team talked quite a bit about what might happen here. The people we love should understand how we feel, in case something happens. If there is a way we can help, I want to stay. I wouldn’t want to just run out on the people. Anyway, I thought I’d say this to you. I don’t think anyone else would understand. Just know how I feel and treasure it in your heart.”
Theirs is a story of downsizing – rolling back their own needs and desires, of putting themselves on the side of the poor, of experiencing life as they do.
“Their growing-up lives were pretty ordinary,” Ulterino says, “but when they appreciated what God was calling them to, they gave themselves totally. As we tell their stories, they become part of us.”
On the night of Dec. 2, 1980, Donovan and Kazel picked up Ford and Clarke at the airport, upon their return from a conference in Managua, Nicaragua. They were followed by National Guardsmen who stopped their vehicle, raped them, killed them and buried them in a shallow grave.
Their bodies were recovered three days later, but the Salvadoran government dragged its heels on the murder investigation. Four years later, five men were convicted of the murders amid suspicion that higher-ups were involved but never charged.
“Certain Women” lets their voices be heard. “Storytelling hits us in the head, in the heart and every which way,” Ulterino says.
This one certainly does. “Certain Women” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, the 25th anniversary of their deaths, at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 287 Flower City Park. All are welcome.
Mark Hare Metro Columnist Democrat and Chronicle 55 Exchange Blvd. Rochester, N.Y. 14614 585-258-2351