During the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic (1930-1961), government forces killed tens of thousands of people inside and outside the country. One of them was Charles Raymond Barnes, an American shot to death on July 26, 1938.
Ordained an Episcopal priest in 1920, Barnes served in the dioceses of Harrisburg and British Honduras (now Belize) before arriving in the Dominican Republic in 1936 to serve as vicar of Epiphany Church in the capitol, Santo Domingo. Poverty was rampant across the island of Hispaniola, and many Haitians had fled to the Dominican Republic to work in the fields. After harsh deportation measures proved unsuccessful, Trujillo ordered the immigrants to be killed. Barnes wrote about these atrocities, hoping that international pressure would bring them to an end.
Upon leaving the country, a friend of his was found in possession of what he had written. Soon the dead body of Barnes was discovered at his home. Regarded as the martyr of the Dominican Episcopal Church, he is buried in the chancel of his former parish, now the Cathedral of the Epiphany. By faith he still speaks to us.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington