On the 20th of March, the nine theologians of the Theology Commission of the Congregation for Causes of Canonisation voted unanimously to recommend the recognition of the martyrdom of Brother James Santiago Miller, who was born in 1944 in Ellis (Stevens Point, Wisconsin USA) and was assassinated in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, on February13th, 1982.
He was just 37 years old when he was killed by three masked armed men while repairing the wall of the school in which he worked, the La Salle Centre for Indigenous People.
After graduating from Saint Mary’s University, Winona, Brother James taught for several years in various secondary schools in the Midwest before going to Nicaragua and then to Guatemala.
In the La Salle Centre for Indigenous People, Huehuetenango, Brother James taught English, Religion and Guatemalan Art at secondary school level. He was well aware of the oppression suffered by the indigenous people of Guatemala and the need to give the children in the Centre the right intellectual equipment, working skills and leadership abilities. Consequently, in addition to his academic teaching, he organised an experimental farm, where they could learn methods for improving agriculture and stock rearing. In that way, he was preparing the students to become indigenous leaders in the rural areas to which they would return after their time in the school.
Brother James worked among the oppressed and became an apostle of the love of Christ and a messenger of His justice. He defended his pupils and worked to give them a better future and to rescue them from a world of violence, ignorance and crime.
The process for declaring him a martyr began in 2009 in Guatemala, and on March the 20th of this year it received the important ‘green light’ from the theological commission, which means we shall soon be able to celebrate his beatification.