*Please note venue change! Event will now be held at the Collegian Court in Chicopee.*
Springfield native and investigative journalist Eileen Markey will read from and discuss her new book, A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sr. Maura at the Collegian Court Restaurant, 89 Park Street in Chicopee, MA on Saturday, November 26 at 2:00 pm.
The public is welcome to attend this free event. Doors open at 1:00 pm. Food and drinks are available for purchase. Parking is available in the Collegian Court lot, on street, and at the Center Street Chicopee Savings Bank, which is a short walk across the street.
Markey’s book focuses on the life of Maryknoll Sister Maura Clarke, one of four American women – three of them Roman Catholic nuns – who were brutally murdered in El Salvador in December 1980. News of the killing shocked the American public and set off a decade of debate over Cold War policy in Latin America. But as Congress held hearings, the State Department, CIA and FBI traded memos, and supporters held emotional memorial services, the women themselves became symbols, shorn of context and background: hapless victims.
Drawing on interviews with Maura’s family and the people she loved and worked with, her letters, and still heavily-redacted government documents, Markey followed the trail of Maura’s life through four countries: from the sweeping green fields of her parents’ Ireland where her father’s involvement in the Irish revolution shaped her own ideas about rebellion; to the boardwalk and sidewalks of Rockaway, New York; to a remote gold mining town in the mountains of Nicaragua; down rutted, washed out roads in El Salvador to villages where survivors whispered the atrocities of civil war—and finally to the place where Maura’s body was buried in a hastily dug grave at the edge of the Cold War.
How did a sweet girl from Queens end up in a place like this? A RADICAL FAITH answers the question, weaving an intimate portrait of Maura’s spiritual and political journey.
Working in poor communities transformed Maura from an obedient and rule-bound young woman into a provocative critic of authority who pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be faithful to religious conviction—even if it meant challenging the CIA-backed regimes terrorizing the poor of Latin America.
In examining the forces that shaped Maura’s life, Markey was able to look closely at the inheritance of Irish nationalism, the immigrant experience in New York, the Cold War, the adaptations of the Catholic Church at Vatican II and the social and political movements that convulsed Central America in the 1970s and 1980s. Maura was shaped by each of these and is remembered with pride and affection by those who knew and worked with her- especially in Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Her story continues to be relevant as the crimes of the 1980s in Central America begin to be prosecuted, the fall-out of those wars continue to reverberate in current immigration patterns, as Americans continue to grapple with the role of faith in public life and as we all negotiate a world of distraction and fear. Maura paid attention. She sincerely followed the very radical commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. I’ve tried to tell her story fully, with nuance and care so that this icon some of us know from prayer cards becomes a real woman again.
Markey grew up in Springfield, one of seven children of ICC members Martin and Sally Markey. Her investigative reporting work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, the Village Voice, the National Catholic Reporter and American Magazine. She has worked for WNYC and was a contributing editor at City Limits.
She has reported from Cambodia, Haiti, and London, and cut her teeth covering crime and corruption in Paterson, New Jersey.
She is a graduate of Fordham University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in the Bronx with her husband and two sons.