I SURRENDER: A Memoir of Chile's Dictatorship 1975

By Kathleen Osberger

Kathy Osberger has written a book that all Christians should read. Her first-hand account of a few months during the tumultuous period in Chile after the overthrow of progressive Salvador Allende contains mini-portraits of church people risking their lives to stand with those who suffered the most during Augusto Pinochet’s reign of terror. We meet Isabel Donoso of the Comite Pro Paz; Rosita Arroyo, an elementary teacher; and Fr. Daniel Panchot, a Holy Cross priest, whose brave response to the dictatorial regime resulted in torture and exile. The memoir is filled with ordinary events of her life as a recent Notre Dame graduate committed to a year of service in Chile. It shows how the heroic choices these men and women made to shelter political dissidents arose organically from their commitment to the poor. Without fanfare, they simply did what they saw as “the next right thing,” and found themselves hunted down by Pinochet’s secret police. The memoir is a reminder of how costly Christian discipleship can be, but also how luminous and meaningful.                                                                                                                                                                  Laurie Brands Gagne, former director the Edumite Center for Peace and Justice, St. Michael’s College, Vermont, and author of      Uses of Darkness: Women’s Underworld Journeys, Ancient and Modern.

“In writing that is unflinching, Osberger vividly tells the story of the struggle and dangers she faced, but also of the courage and commitment of those who put their lives on the line for justice.”                                                                                                                        Sam Stanton, former executive director, Maryknoll Lay Missioners

"In 1975, Kathy Osberger went to Santiago, Chile, as a lay volunteer. She lived with the School Sisters of Notre Dame and taught at a Maryknoll grade school. After her arrival, she discovered that the convent was also a refuge for political dissidents who were being pursued by the secret police, the DINA, directed by Augusto Pinochet, former general and now dictator. Pinochet sought to wipe out all opposition to his regime and was often aided clandestinely by the American CIA and other forces.  The Americans saw it as part of a broader effort to stem the spread of Communism in Latin America.  This book reads like a spy novel although the people and events are real.  Kathy makes reference to many Holy Cross priests that I knew, who influenced her and/or supported the efforts, including Dan McNeill, Claude Pomerleau, Gerald Whelan, Daniel Panchot, David Farrell, Phil Devlin, Pepe Ahumada, and Bob Plasker.   

Kathy tells the story of all these momentous events with fervor and compassion for those affected, including herself.  Little did she know that when she left the U.S. to volunteer in Chile that she would encounter both terrorism and heroism, both government abuse and religious solidarity.  I am pleased that she took on this task in order to celebrate the courage of those who took the Gospel imperative of love and hospitality seriously.  Much in Chile has changed since 1975, but the need for good government and social justice remains the same."                                                                                                                                                                                Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., President Emeritus, University of Notre Dame