Ita Ford and the Spirit of Social Change
The life of Maryknoll Sister Ita Ford, one of four U.S. churchwomen murdered by the El Salvadoran military in December 1980, underscores the complicated relationship between religion and left politics. Although largely overlooked in the historical scholarship on postwar American social movements, Catholic sisters such as Ford played important roles as participants in, and catalysts for, social justice efforts, whether in the 1960s U.S. civil rights movement or as practitioners of liberation theology in the 1970s and beyond. In Chile and El Salvador, Ford put her faith into action through the work of accompaniment: she advocated for human rights, engaged in grassroots community organizing, and aided refugees. Her life and work highlight how secular and sacred forces intertwined within postwar struggles for social and political change.