Stories of Support

Maryknoll Magazine of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, Inc.

Oct 19, 2023

Middle Aged gentleman outside of a religious building

“Lest They be Forgotten”
Reprinted with permission from Maryknoll magazine
Photo credit Wheater/Honduras/Maryknoll magazine
April 1989

When Father Albert L (Algie) Reymann, a Maryknoll missioner in Honduras, borrowed a creative idea for his 1989 calendar, it resulted in unforeseen – and terrifying – consequences.

     On a visit to El Salvador, the 68-year-old missioner from Akron, Ohio, saw a calendar marked with names of victims of that country’s civil war. The priest, who has worked for over 35 years in Central America, decided to design a similar calendar for Honduras, where the victims of human rights abuses have received little attention.

     Father Reymann soon had a calendar with the names of 350 Hondurans – students, nurses, labor unionists, human rights activists – on the day of the year they were reported either dead or missing as well as those who had been allegedly responsible.

     The priest explains that he wanted people to pray for the victims, lest they be forgotten, and to become more aware of what has been happening in their Central American nation. He describes Honduras as a fragile democracy dominated by the military, where 80 percent of the people have been mired in extreme poverty.

     When Reymann left the printers with some of the 5,000 copies of the calendars, he was arrested at gunpoint by Honduran police. The priest explained that everything on the calendar had been published previously in newspapers or other sources. “I just put it all together,” he said. But the police accused him of subversion and questioned him for four hours before releasing him without charges after intervention by Honduran Church officials. 

     From their inquiries about his sermons and talks to workers, Reymann surmises that the secret police had been tailing him for at least 10 months. 

     He admits to being frightened by the experience and fearing for his life. “I was a foreigner,” he says. “Had I been Honduran, I may never have left the building alive!”

     Ordained in 1947, Reymann taught for two years at Maryknoll College in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, before receiving his first overseas assignment, to Guatemala in 1952. He served there for 25 years, including a term as vicar general of the Huehuetenango diocese. He then served five years in El Salvador before moving to Honduras in 1982.

     After consultation with Church officials and fellow Maryknollers following his arrest, Reymann returned to Akron for a “vacation.” Meanwhile, his parishioners assured “Padre Alberto” that they would do everything they could to reproduce his calendars and distribute them after all.