Dorothy Kazel : biography

June 30, 1939 - December 2, 1980


Several books have been written about the four women who were martyred that day, and Kazel is mentioned in all of them. However, one specifically about Kazel was authored by Sister Cynthia Glavac: In the Fullness of Life: A Biography of Dorothy Kazel, O.S.U. (1996, Dimension Books).


Although Jean Donovan is the main subject of the 1982 documentary Roses in December the film also includes footage regarding Archbishop Romero and Sister Dorothy Kazel. at American Friends Service Committee lending library; accessed online December 9, 2006. This documentary won the Interfilm Award at the 1982 International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg.

Pamela Bellwood played Kazel in the 1983 television movie Choices of the Heart, which was criticized for lacking clarity about the political context of the women's killings. detailed review dated 2005; accessed online December 10, 2006. The movie won the 1984 Humanitas Prize in the 90-minute category. Melissa Gilbert, Helen Hunt, Martin Sheen, and Mike Farrell co-starred.

Life and work

Kazel was born Dorthea Lu Kazel to Lithuanian American parents, Joseph and Malvina Kazel, in Cleveland, Ohio. When she joined the Ursulines, a Roman Catholic religious institute in 1960, she took the name Sister Laurentine, in honor of an Ursuline nun martyred during the French Revolution.

As the Catholic Church modernized during the 1960s, she became known as Sister Dorothy. In the Central American community where she died, she was known as Madre Dorthea (Dorothy).

Kazel completed her bachelor's degree and novitiate between 1960 and 1965. Beginning in 1965, she taught for seven years in Cleveland, and did missionary work among the Papago Tribe of Arizona.

After finishing a master's degree in counseling in 1974, Kazel decided to partake in the challenge of joining the Diocese of Cleveland's mission team working in El Salvador. Once there, Kazel worked in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in La Libertad, training catechists, carrying out sacramental preparation programs, and overseeing the distribution of Catholic Relief Services aid and food supplies. She was also engaged in working with refugees from the Salvadoran Civil War, obtaining food, shelter, and medical supplies, and transporting the sick and injured to medical facilities.

Subsequent history

According to the Maryknoll Sisters: “The [1993] U.N.-sponsored Report of the Commission on the Truth for El Salvador concluded that the abductions were planned in advance and the men responsible had carried out the murders on orders from above. It further stated that the head of the National Guard and two officers assigned to investigate the case had concealed the facts to harm the judicial process. The murder of the women, along with attempts by the Salvadoran military and some American officials to cover it up, generated a grass-roots opposition in the U.S., as well as ignited intense debate over the Administration’s policy in El Salvador.

In 1984, the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison. The Truth Commission noted that this was the first time in Salvadoran history that a judge had found a member of the military guilty of assassination. In 1998, three of the soldiers were released for good behavior. Two of the men remain in prison and have petitioned the Salvadoran government for pardons.” .

The head of the National Guard, whose troops were responsible for the murders, General Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, went on to become Salvadoran Minister of Defense in the government of José Napoleón Duarte. InterReligious Task Force of Cleveland; accessed October 7, 2005. After their emigration to the U.S. state of Florida, Vides Casanova and his fellow general, José Guillermo García, were sued by the families of the four women in federal civil court. The case is styled Ford v. Garcia. The defense won the case.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine