At twilight on a remote mountain pass in war ravaged Guatemala in the 1980s, a ladino and a Kekchi Mayan meet a gruff americáno horseman. His face is disguised with a kerchief and he speaks little. Government death squads still roam these Mayan homelands, where hundreds of villagers have been massacred in the time known today as la violencia, the days of the Rios Montt regime. The two small men have been awaiting a young mission priest, who they are to escort to the village of Casaroja. Out of radio contact for years, along with its fledgling mission priest, the village is believed by human rights activists to have been attacked by the army. Despite a new civilian regime, the nation remains on edge. For the army remains in place, and fears an accounting. Distrust, suspicion and well-justified fear are the rule of the day. And this Yankee horseman is neither young, nor does his speech or manner bear any resemblance to the man of God that the two men of Guatemala have expected. As their long journey through the wilderness with the stranger begins, they become convinced that something has gone terribly wrong.
Thus begins Casaroja, “an intense and gripping novel,” according to Catholic essayist and educator James Likoudis, “written with great descriptive power by a new Catholic author, who writes masterfully concerning faith in a world of betrayal and disbelief.” Casaroja is not only a Catholic novel but a work in the vein of American realism, depicting at ground level the American Catholic response to Central America in our time, amidst competing claims of revolution versus counter-revolution, Western economic development versus the promises of communist propaganda, and liberation theology versus the traditional missionary quest for souls.