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Author Eileen Markey to Launch Book at Irish Cultural Center

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Springfield native and investigative journalist Eileen Markey will read from and discuss her new book, A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sr. Maura on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 2 p.m. at the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England’s new center at 429 Morgan Road in West Springfield. The public is welcome to attend this free event.

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 Clarke’s family and the people she loved and worked with, her letters, and still heavily redacted government documents, Markey followed the trail of her life through four countries. Working in poor communities transformed Clarke 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 Clarke’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. Her story continues to be relevant as the crimes of the 1980s in Central America begin to be prosecuted, the fallout of those wars continue to reverberate in current immigration patterns, as Americans continue to grapple with the role of faith in public life and negotiate a world of distraction and fear.

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