Sister Azucena, known to all as “Ceny,” was born in Baguio, Philippines. Ceny earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of the Philippines and became a certified teacher of high school physics from the Ateneo de Manila, Philippines. She entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1968, then was assigned to Tanzania in 1970.
Sister Ceny taught physics and chemistry in Bukoba, then at Nangwa Girls’ School. She went from there to Chanjale Parish in Lambini and Mwanza, where she was engaged in pastoral work. In 1989, she was assigned to head the Maryknoll Sisters regional house in Nairobi. The following year, she returned to Tanzania to serve at the Matumaini Center for teenage mothers in Iringa. During her Tanzania ministry, Sister Ceny helped developed a secondary education alternative for young women. Later, after seeing so many single teen-age mothers, she worked with others to start a center for teenage mothers, called Center of Hope.
In 2004, Sister Ceny was assigned to Nanakuli, Hawaii, where she was first engaged in social service work with immigrants. Later Sister Ceny was invited to join the staff of Hoa ‘Aina O’Makaha Farm, where the neighboring Makaha Elementary School had become a partner with the farm in exposing their students not only to planting, weeding, watering, harvesting but also the benefits of communal participation and inter-generational cooperation. The farm also welcomes busloads of young students on almost every day of the school year to give the young children the opportunity an experience to plant, water, and see how food grows.
In 2011, Sister Ceny responded to another call, this time to Brazil. She carries with her a wealth of experience working with children and teens.