This Monday, on September 27th, we commemorate the 31st anniversary of the martyrdom of Sister Aguchita, who was murdered by the Shining Path terrorist group in La Florida, Peru. In this reflection, we continue to journey with Aguchita on that fateful day when the comrades, unable to locate the community leader, summoned Aguchita instead. Rubén, a villager who was present, recalled his version of events:
The subversives took out a list of the names of those they were going to kill, but, first, they called everyone, making us stand in rows. Then, they made us form a line along the street: women, men, boys, and girls on one side. Then, after that, they began to read out the names of those who would be killed.
An extract from the book Aguchita: Mercy and Justice goes on to describe what happened:
After the speech and cheers of “Long Live Comrade Gonzalo”, one of the subversives began to read out the names of the people on the list he was holding: Juan Pérez Escalante, Luis Pérez Marín, Pedro Pizarro, Efigenia Marín de Pérez, Doña Jesús Marín de Pérez, and Sr. María Agustina Rivas. Aguchita was accused of working with the [indigenous] Asháninka people, preaching peace, distracting the children with candy, distributing food, and organizing the women. Thinking not of herself but of the others, Aguchita interceded for them, pleading: “These people have harmed no one.” However, the comrades replied, “let your God save you now. We’re going to cut the throat of your God”.
Aguchita must have been aware of what was unfolding. Yet, she did not plead for her God to save her and the others. Instead, she abandoned herself to the will of God while refusing to abandon her flock. Just the previous year, she had been quoted as saying: “Until the last bullet is fired, I will not abandon them.” True to her word, she remained steadfast as a Servant of God. Not as a passive participant to the events but as a shepherdess who spoke up and spoke out in defense of her flock. In the moments leading up to her martyrdom, she showed her willingness to intercede for them – and for us all – as she pleaded for their safety.
Jesus, Good Shepherd,
who taught us to be merciful like the Father,
you granted to María Agustina Rivas López – Aguchita,
the grace of exemplary shepherding,
to serve the Church in charity with the most needy
and in care for Creation,
through a life given in total commitment.
I ask you humbly,
for your greater glory,
to grant me through the intercession of Aguchita,
the grace of….
(express your intention).