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The Sister Dorothy Kazel Global Awareness Center

ursuline college On October 3, 1979, shortly before El Salvador erupted in a bloody civil war that would last for twelve years, Sister Dorothy Kazel wrote the following to her friend and former missionary co-worker, Sister Martha Owen:

We talked quite a bit today about what happens if something begins. And most of us feel we would want to stay here... We wouldn't want to just run out on the people... I thought I should say this to you because I don't want to say it to anyone else because I don't think she would understand. Anyway, my beloved friend, just know how I feel... If a day comes when others will have to understand, please explain.

The day that Dorothy so prophetically referred to in her letter did come on December 2, 1980, when she, lay missionary Jean Donovan, and Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford were abducted, raped, and murdered execution style, by five members of the Salvadoran National Guard. Preaching the Gospel and ministering to the corporal and spiritual needs of the poor were the "crimes" the four women had "committed".

At the time of her murder, Dorothy had been a member of the Cleveland Diocesan Latin American Mission team for six years. Before her missionary ministry, Dorothy served two years as a counselor at Beaumont School (Cleveland Heights) and seven years as a business and religion teacher at Sacred Heart Academy (formerly located in East Cleveland). In addition to her counseling and teaching responsibilities, Dorothy also minstered to the poor and marginalized by volunteering at various social service agencies. Prior to her entrance into the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland in 1960, Dorothy had taught third grade for one year. Friends, family members, and former students remember Dorothy as a joyful, fun-loving woman whose spirituality was firmly rooted in her great love for God and God's people.

In the years since her death, Dorothy has become a symbol of hope and healing in a world fraught with violence, injustice, and poverty. Her courageous testimony of what it means to fully live the Gospel has inspired countless North Americans to enter into the lives of the poor and their struggle for justice, to stand with them, to become a voice for them, and to become instruments of nonviolent love and truth.

Global Awareness Center

ursuline college The Sister Dorothy Kazel Center for Global Awareness of Peace and Justice Issues of the Ralph M. Besse Library of Ursuline College was established in 1985 to be housed on the main floor of the new library building. The Kazel Center is dedicated to the memory of Sr. Dorothy Kazel. The collection is designed to serve as a research center to promote the awareness of peace and justice for all people. The materials in the collection are intended to assist scholarly and active pursuits in the area of international relations. To learn more about Sr. Dorthy Kazel, we suggest the following library materials:


  • Glavac, Cynthia, O.S.U. In the Fullness of Life: a Biography of Dorothy Kazel. Denville, New Jersey: Dimension Books, 1996.
  • Kazel, Dorothy Chapon. Alleluia: Sister Dorothy Kazel. Cleveland: Chapel Publications, 1987.
  • Partridge, Olivia. A Search for Justice: Research and Reflections on the Lives and Deaths of Four American Chruchwomen Killed in El Salvador. 1983.
  • Royal, Robert. The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History. New York: Crossroad Pub., 2000.


  • Justice and the Generals. New York: Gail Pellett Productions; Thirteen WNET, 2002.
  • Salvador: Sacrifices of Faith. Cleveland: New World Communications (WJW TV), 1996.


  • Dickey, Christopher. "Not Today, Not Tomorrow." Newsweek, v.132 (December 7, 1998) p.44.
  • Hendon, David W. "Notes on Church-State Affairs: El Salvador." Journal of Church and State, v.40 (Summer, 1998). p.713.
  • Hoesl, Marcella. "Reflection on the Life and Death of Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan. Missiology, v.9 (Oct., 1981), pp.389-392.
  • Kazel, Dorothy Chapon. "Sister Dorothy Kazel: A Martyr Remembered." Our Sunday Visitor, v.19 (Dec., 1990), pp.10-21.
  • Wallis, Jim. "Remembering the Deaths of Four Missionaries in El Salvador." Sorjourners, v.19 (Dec., 1990), pp.10-21.
  • Zyromski, Pae McKean. "How to be a Living Alleluia: Easter Lessons from Dorothy Kazel. Cathechist, v.33. (March, 2000), n.p. (available in print).