Sister Aurelia Atencio

Sister Aurelia Atencio, M.M.

Current Ministry Location-Peru

Sister Aurelia entered Maryknoll on September 24, 1966 from the Parish of St. Therese in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her current home parish is Santo Niño at Tierra Amarilla, NM. She made her First Profession of Vows on July 27, 1969 in Lima, Peru and her Final Vows on March 11, 1979 in Puno, Peru.

Sister Aurelia was assigned to the Bolivia/Peru region in July 1968. For the first six months after her arrival in the region, Sister Aurelia was engaged in Pastoral Work and summer school for kids in Cobija, Bolivia. Then she was sent to Lima, Peru and was involved in teaching English and Spanish on a part time basis from 1968-1970, while making transactions to enter University.

Seeing a need for agricultural education in Peru, Sister Aurelia returned to the United States and enrolled in New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. She received a B.S. in Agricultural Sciences in 1974 and completed an M.S. in Agronomy in December 1975.

Sister Aurelia lived and worked in the highlands (Altiplano) of Peru, 12,500 feet above sea level. She taught, and gave courses and workshops in animal sciences, improved farming methods and forms of community. Sister Aurelia studied the Aymara language in 1978.

With her skills as a trained agronomist, Sister Aurelia was a big help to the people from whom she learned so much. During the severe drought of 1983-1984, Sister Aurelia was involved in Emergency Projects in the town of Ilave and started a seed bank for potato seeds; potatoes, being  the staple food in the area. Also, Sister Aurelia was part of a team that offered other courses in community organization.

From 1984-1992, Sister Aurelia lived and worked in the Ilave parish that extends to the Pilcuyo district of the Southern Peruvian Highlands and she was a very active member of the Rural Pastoral Team.

From 1993-1996, Sister Aurelia gave Congregational Service at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY. She worked in the Development Department in Data Processing, Communications and the Photo Lab. In 1996 Sister Aurelia returned to Peru. She went back to Pilcuyo with the same Rural Pastoral Team, that happily welcomed her again.

In 2000 Sister Aurelia moved to the district of Viquechico. She lived and worked with Aymara peasants in the farmlands of the Altiplano. Along with the potatoes, Sister Aurelia embarked on a new project. This time she introduced the production of quinoa, a rich source of protein to improve the diet of the people.

Sister Aurelia continues to live and work in Vilquechico among the Aymara peasants, close to”Pachamama”, Mother Earth, accompanying them in their daily struggle.

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