But for the grace of God…

Aguchita was born into a rural patriarchal society where it was difficult for girls to access education or opportunities. However, it would appear her family was financially stable, and she could also rely on a network of support. In the following excerpt, adapted from the book Aguchita: Mercy and Justice, we read how, at an age when young girls were vulnerable to exploitation, she traveled to Lima to start her new life and fulfill her vocation – aware of God's saving grace along her life's journey.  

Aguchita was born into a deeply religious family... of sufficient social and economic standing... to live in some comfort. At some stage, between the ages of 13 and 17, like many other young girls at that time, she traveled to Lima to embark on an adventure. Aguchita's niece, Teresa Esther, recalled that Aguchita came to Lima "and became acquainted with the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd," and attracted by the charism of the Congregation, Aguchita decided to enter religious life. Years later, one sister recalled the influence Aguchita had on her own decision to enter religious life. Aguchita had told the girl about her own vocation and how she had left her homeland and her family to be where she was today. Aguchita said to her: "Grace that slips by never returns," a phrase that the sister never forgot.

The Congregational Position Paper on the Prostitution of Women and Girls identifies that some of the root causes of prostitution are tied to poverty, patriarchy, male privilege, racism, militarization, and inadequate family support: issues that have surrounded the lives of many girls and women, including Aguchita. Unfortunately, today, we continue to live in a world where without equality, opportunity, and guidance, girls and women still fall prey to prostitution because of these issues. Are you aware of God's saving grace in your life, like Aguchita was? How do you use this grace to support and guide other vulnerable women and children who might be at risk of exploitation?