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. She made her First Profession of Vows on July 27, 1969 and her Final Vows on March 11, 1979, both in Peru.

Sister Aurelia was assigned to the Bolivia Peru Region in July 1968. For the first six months after her arrival in the region, she 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.

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 Agriculture Sciences in 1974 and completed an M.S. in Agronomy in December 1975.

Sister Aurelia then returned to Peru to live and work in the highlands (Altiplano) of Peru, 12,500 feet above sea level, throughout her mission. She taught courses and workshops in animal sciences, improved farming methods and forms of community, while studying the Aymara language in 1978. From 1983-1984, there was a severe drought, Sister Aurelia was involved in emergency help projects in the town of Ilave and started a seed bank for potato seeds; potatoes being the staple food in the area. She was also part of a team that offered courses in community organization during disasters.

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 N.Y. She worked in the Development Department in Data Processing, Communications and the Photo Lab.

In 1996, Sister Aurelia returned to Peru back to Pilcuyo with the same Rural Pastoral Team , that happily welcomed her again. In 2000, Sister Aurelia moved to Viquechico where she lived and worked with Aymara peasants in the farmlands of the Altiplano. Along with the potatoes, she embarked on a new project, introducing the production of quinoa, a rich source of protein to improve the diet of the people. Sister Aurelia continued to live and work in Viquechico among the Aymara peasants, close to “Pachamama”, Mother Earth, accompanying them in their daily struggle.

Presently, Sister Aurelia lives in Puno, Peru where she does pastoral and agriculture ministries and has been there since 2009.