Eight School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province succumbed in a little more than a week in mid-December in Wisconsin after complications from COVID-19 as the virus spread in the facility that cared for them.
Chalatenango, Bishop Oswaldo Escobar Aguilar said, means "valley of sand and water" in the area's indigenous language, "but in the 1980s, it became a valley of blood." And some of the blood spilled was that of the four U.S. Catholic women.
How the women lived and worked inspired Melissa Altman and her husband, Peter, to move their young family to El Salvador.
On a bright and clear January afternoon, Bishop Oswaldo Escobar Aguilar walked into a cemetery and gently dusted off a white name plate on top of a sky-blue block of tombs. Making plans for the year ahead, he told secretary Violeta Esmeralda Serrano nearby that they needed to make sure the tombs were decorated with flowers Dec. 2.