A call for solidarity from Honduras

S. Rosa Maria Trochez, SSNDIn 1975, prior to becoming a sister, Rosa Maria Trochez found herself rounded up and imprisoned for 11 days after witnessing the Honduran military murder two priests working in the area. Rosa Maria recalls, “I didn’t think I was going to leave alive. A priest visited me in jail and brought me a Bible. I thought this was the last chance to read it. The Bible opened to Isaiah: ‘This is the fast that I most desire to let free the oppressed and give food to the hungry’… in this moment I knew God wanted my life.” When she was released at 1 a.m., under a military controlled curfew, there were no lights anywhere. She didn’t know where she was, but she did know, in her heart, that she would freely surrender her life to God. It was then when she started seeking out religious life. Sister Rosa Maria professed her final vows as a School Sister of Notre Dame in September 1991.

After being released, Rosa Maria also learned that local farmer owners murdered two Franciscan priests and 13 lay people who were gathering in hopes to reform agriculture in Honduras, later known as the Massacre of the Horcones. During this time, there was a general clash between farmers and the military about land rights in Honduras. Many priests and sisters stood with the poor in hopes to own land in order to farm and provide for their families.

Since that time, Sister Rosa Maria has been working to defend the human rights of women and impoverished communities. She is committed to helping women, young and old, reach their highest potential through informal education. She has also worked with social justice issues and served as a pastoral agent in the Mesa Grande Refugee Camp in Honduras. Currently, there are six School Sisters of Notre Dame working in Honduras. Sister Rosa Maria works in the community, two work in the distant mountains with indigenous people, one works with street children and two others are working in formal education at the school, Instituto Notre Dame in El Progreso, Yoro, Honduras.

It was recently announced that the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) would be ending by January 2020, for Hondurans living in the United States. Honduras is considered one of the poorest countries in Latin America, facing extreme violence and a lack of employment. Back in 2009, Honduras had a coup d'état, which threw the country further into chaos. According to Sister Rosa Maria, “There is nothing. No education, light, housing, health. So the people try to leave to go to the U.S. Since the election, there are 300 people leaving daily. Hondurans are trying to come to the U.S. undocumented due to the desperation they feel in their own country because of the corruption.” With TPS being revoked, more than 60,000 people are forced back to a nation that is under crisis. “Hondurans are indignant. The president of Honduras says we’re ready to give them a welcome here. We will have another level of crisis. Hondurans are going to have to get along in order to make this work and be happy,” said Sister Rosa Maria.

S. Rosa Maria and others gather in Congress to call for solidary for HonduransWith so many Honduran families being forced to leave the U.S. and return to Honduras in 2020, the call for solidarity and awareness for the human rights crisis will continue to be very important and relevant. With the help of the St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee of Latin America, the Sisters of Mercy, Holy Trinity Parish and many others, Sister Rosa Maria was able to travel to the United States on May 11, 2018, in order to share the extreme conditions in Honduras. After three presentations to the St. Louis community, a delegation of Hondurans and Sister Rosa Maria traveled to Washington, D.C., to bring their message of solidarity and to share the extreme situation in Honduras to Congress and local churches.

Sister Rosa Maria’s “march” on Washington was to call for peace. She states, “We are going to speak about the hope of the people. Despite the fact that the community is suffering we are working for peace. We need peace. In order to have peace you must have food, housing and basic human conditions. We know that it is a long process. But we want the world to know that the money that goes to Honduras isn’t getting to the people.”

For more information about the Honduran’s call for solidarity please visit the following articles:

 
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