Bishop Francis Xavier ford was one of Maryknoll's first missionaries to China, where he served from 1918 to 1952. He died in a Chinese prison.
Born in 1940 in Brooklyn, New York, Ita joined Maryknoll after college in 1961. Ill Health forced her to leave the community so she worked as an editor for a publishing company for several years. In 1971, she reapplied to Maryknoll and was accepted.
After studying in Bolivia for two years, Ita was assigned to Chile. Within months of her arrival, a military coup overthrew the government, yet Ita decided to remain in Chile to work among the poor. In 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero asked for her help in El Salvador, and Ita and another sister decided to go. Shortly before their arrival, Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980.
In El Salvador, the two Maryknoll sisters worked with refugees. During their first summer, they were caught in a flash flood, and only Ita survived. Following her friend's death, Ita chose to stay in El Salvador. She was soon joined by another Maryknoll sister, Maura Clarke.
On this day in 1980, national guardsmen in El Salvador gunned down Sr. Ita Ford, Sr. Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sr. Dorothy Kazel, and a United States lay woman named Jean Donovan. The soldiers were later convicted and served 17 years of a 30-year prison sentence for the women's rape and murder.
- Little Blue Book, December 2
While most of us will never have to face armed men willing to kill us, we must each ask ourselves what we would do in that situation. Is our faith in Jesus great enough that we would willingly lay down our lives for him? Would we be able to face such a situation with grace and dignity? Take some time today to reflect on the life of Sr. Ita and think about how she can serve as an example for each of us.