A total gift of self

Today, we commemorate the 31st anniversary of the martyrdom of Sister Aguchita, who was murdered in hatred of the faith by the Shining Path terrorist group in La Florida, Peru, on 27 September 1990. In this reflection, we continue to stay with Aguchita on that fateful day as she pleaded in vain for the safety of her flock. Rubén, one of the villagers, described what he saw:

The victims were made to form a line, one behind the other, and I remember that they pointed the rifle against the chest of the first person. The bullet hit three people, killing all three.

Testimonies recount how the people quickly began to scatter as another woman began to fire a round of bullets into Aguchita's body; as she was shot, she hit a bench against the wall of a house on the corner. The blast shattered her skull, and the bullets were lodged inside her body. Aguchita was shot by a round of five bullets that left her "as if she were kneeling with her hands together."

Blanca, another witness, recalled:

Sister Agustina was the last to die; like a dove, she collapsed beside the bench, where she remained.

The news of Aguchita's death came as a shock to the rest of the sisters. They were conscious of the risk they faced, but they were surprised that the most peaceful of the sisters had been killed. The current Provincial Leader of Peru, Sister Marlene Acosta, recalls that Aguchita's death made the sisters ask themselves if they were truly willing to follow in her footsteps. She says it was a time full of doubt, but that Aguchita's example was like a beacon showing them the way in times of darkness. Today, as the Congregation continues to celebrate its 31st General Chapter, let each of us involved in the mission reflect on how we can truly follow in Aguchita's footsteps. Let us bring her into our prayer and ask for her intercession to light a pathway for us into the peripheries where we, too, can continue the work of the mission and offer the total gift of self in whatever form is called of us.