On July 11, 101 years will have passed since Aguchita was baptized in the parish church of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves in the town of Coracora, Peru. The name of this town, where she grew up and spent her childhood, comes from the Quechua word qura which refers to a marsh where herbaceous plants grow wild. These natural surroundings undoubtedly shaped Aguchita’s love for the environment. The following excerpt, adapted from the book Aguchita: Mercy and Justice, demonstrates how Aguchita acknowledged the presence of God in every aspect of Creation.
Coracora: the town where Aguchita grew up and spent her childhood.
Like any other girl of that time, Aguchita worked in the fields and looked after the animals, which she enjoyed doing. Her niece, Teresa Esther Chuquizuta, recalled how Aguchita’s parents “owned land and made cheese” and that Aguchita’s “love for plants and animals stemmed from this.” And Angela recounted how “she always thought of herself as someone from the countryside, in that she greatly loved nature; she said that each plant was the manifestation of God.” In fact, Aguchita often said to the women: “a house with no plants is lifeless.” Between 1970 and 1975, Aguchita was asked to offer support to the contemplative sisters of the Congregation in Salamanca, Peru. Sometimes, she would go to the gardens with one of the sisters who had rheumatism, telling her that it would do her body and soul good. She believed that the earth was capable of “taking hold of the disease.”
The Congregational Position Paper on Integral Ecology embraces the interconnectedness of science and theology and states that they “offer reliable global insights… [and] enrich our understanding of the world as a source of deep contemplation and sacred activity”. From her actions and words, we can see how Aguchita recognized and embraced this interconnectedness. Are you conscious of God’s presence in all non-human life? What can you learn from Aguchita to deepen your love and understanding for all of God’s Creation?