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November 18, 2011

35th anniversary of Maryknoll Martyr Father Bill Woods, M.M., Mayalán, Ixcán Guatemala, November 20, 1976

Father Bill Woods, M.M.
On November 20, 2011 the indigenous Mayan community in Guatemala celebrates the 35th anniversary of the death of Father Bill Woods,M.M. They will remember his life, his mission and the legacy that he left for poor Indian farmers in the Ixcán, Guatemala.  Members of the Maryknoll family of Guatemala will travel to Mayalán, Ixcán to commemorate this special event.  Indian colonizers will dedicate two days to oral history, music, poetry and religious celebrations as they remember their valient struggle for land rights and Father Bill Wood's missionary ministry on their behalf.

According to the Indian colonizers that participated in the cooperatives that Father Bill organized, Father Bill's aircraft was shot down by the Guatemalan military on a bright cloudless day in November, 1976.   He, along with Dr. Michael Okado, lay missioner John Gauker, an American journalist, and another passenger were killed in the crash.

Father Bill Woods and lay missioner John Gauker were buried with honors in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Thousands of Indians attended their funeral. Cesar Montes recalls the sad event well and said: “We feel like orphans without the Father”.

In May 2000, the people of the Ixcan requested that Father Bill’s body be brought to Mayalan, Ixcán to rest among the Indian people he so much loved and served. Click on this link to view a video of Fr. Bill's service to the Mayan Indians of the Ixcán.

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