Saturday, November 10, 2018


On Nov. 8 Pope Francis  approved the beatification (sometime in 2019)  of American Br. James Miller, who was martyred in 1982 in Guatemala.

 American born BROTHER JAMES (SANTIAGO) MILLER, FSC, was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin in 1944. He first met the Christian Brothers when he attended Pacelli High School there, and he entered the juniorate in Glencoe, Missouri, in September 1959. He began his year of novitiate in 1962, and following his formation years he started teaching.

He coached football, and taught Spanish, English, and religion in a high school in St. Paul, Minn. There his construction and maintenance abilities gained him the nickname "Brother Fix-It."
After professing his perpetual vows in 1969, he was sent to Bluefields, Nicaragua until 1974 when he was sent to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.

In July 1979 his superiors directed him to leave the country because the Sandinista revolution was in progress, and they feared he might be at risk. 

In January 1981 he was allowed to return to Central America, this time to Guatemala. He taught at the secondary school in Huehuetenango and worked at the Indian Center where young indigenous Mayans from rural areas studied and trained in agriculture.

The relations between the Brothers at the Indian Center and the Guatemalan military were often strained. To meet its quota of army conscripts, the government often rounded up Indian boys from the streets. Although students were exempt from military service, the boys from the Center were often conscripted into the army. When that happened, a Brother would present proof to the authorities that the boy in questions was a student. The military would then reluctantly release him.

Two days before Brother James was killed, a Mayan pupil was forced into the army. A Brother tried to obtain his release from the authorities, but his petition was refused. By his adamant demands the Brother infuriated these authorities. In the afternoon of February 13, 1982, while he was repairing a wall at the Indian Center where his boarders lived, three hooded men shot Brother James point blank. He died instantly.

Some saw his death as a warning to the Brothers to cease interfering in government affairs. Attempts to identify his assassins were unsuccessful. Brother James’ cause of martyrdom was undertaken by the Diocese of Huehuetenango in 2009.

Brother James’s killing was one in a string of assassinations of priests and religious in the country, including that of Bl. Stanley Rother five months later.

Aware of the danger present to him in Guatemala, in one of his last letters before he died, Brother James wrote: “I am personally weary of violence, but I continue to feel a strong commitment to the suffering poor of Central America. …the Church is being persecuted because of its option for the poor.”

The  Brother James Miller icon  at the top was painted by Nicholas Markell. The gold circular surrounding the head of Brother James Miller is called a “nimbus.” As with most sacred art, the nimbus is symbolic. Unlike the halo in Western spirituality that represents a canonized saint, the nimbus in Eastern spirituality represents the indwelling of Christ in the person.  I love this image as he hold the lamb, representing Christ

No comments:

Post a Comment