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Was Irene McCormack a martyr for her Christian beliefs or merely one of Peru's many victims of terrorism? By May 1991, one of the world's most ruthless terrorist groups, the Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, had left 30,000 known dead in its ten-year guerrilla war against the Peruvian government. On 21 May 1991, as dusk settled upon the Andean town of Huasahuasi, a silver-haired Australian woman became part of this horrifying death toll. Sister Irene McCormack, a Catholic nun and member of the religious order founded by Mary MacKillop, was executed after a mock trial that saw a young woman terrorist label Sister Irene a Yankee imperialist before firing a bullet at point-blank range into the back of her head. What makes a woman leave the safety of Australia and travel to an impoverished mountain village in rural Peru, an area where threats and violence are a daily reality, to teach the village children to read and write? Anne Henderson has gone beyond the headlines to uncover just who was Irene McCormack.
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About the Author
Anne Henderson was born in Melbourne and now lives in Sydney. She is a graduate of Melbourne University and worked as a teacher for seventeen years before taking up her current position as Deputy Direction of The Sydney Institure and editor of The Sydney Papers. She is the author of From All Corners: Six Migrant Stories (1993) and Educating Johannah: A Year in Year 12 (1995).