Life breaking through death

Aguchita's murder did not go unnoticed, and many official statements were released following her death and burial. Today, as we continue to reflect on Aguchita's life and legacy, we share the second of four of these, as follows:

Statement from the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious of Peru

For a long time, our country has been experiencing an escalation in many forms of violence, which has taken the lives of very many defenseless Peruvians who have been killed by the subversive, repressive and structural violence in our country, such as hunger and corruption prevalent in so many sectors.

In this context, on September 27, Sister María Agustina Rivas, a member of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, was murdered along with six other people who lived in La Florida, Chanchamayo, Junín. She died bearing witness to her faith in the God of life and to her affiliation with the ordinary and helpless people in the country's inner territory. She was defenseless when she died, as our poor die every day. She died as a humble Peruvian who could not understand how it was possible that we are killing each other in a country of sisters and brothers.

We are convinced that God has welcomed her as a dearly beloved daughter and that hers is not a meaningless or worthless death. And we know that the God of life, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who knows that the grain dies to bear fruit, will bring to bear the fruits of peace for which we all long. We believe that a country in which we can live our humanity in friendship is not achieved by taking life; on the contrary, it is by ensuring that everyone has life and has it in abundance (Jn. 10), so we can offer everyone the chance for justice and peace.

Together with Sister Agustina, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and so many men and women religious in Peru who devote their lives to the lowly, we wish to reaffirm our vocation to remain faithful to our God by accompanying these humble people who are constantly exposed to death. We are convinced that this is our place and the way to follow Jesus, who is present in the suffering experienced by our people.

May the Lord of miracles, the Lord of the poor and the oppressed of our land, give us the strength to build a more just world in solidarity with the poor.

October 6, 1990

You may not have experienced state violence, terrorism or war, but the social injustice that caused the martyrdom of Aguchita continues in forms of racism, sexism, hate crimes and gender-based violence, among many others. How aware are you of the subversive, repressive and structural forms of violence that continue to deny life to so many of our sisters and brothers around the world? And how, like Aguchita, can you peacefully challenge this violence while bearing witness to your faith to create life-giving and just opportunities for the lowly and humble to whom you devote your life in the Mission?