For more than 20 years the Guatemalan people have stolen Sister Silvia’s heart.
Sister Silvia Pacheco was born in Marida, Yucatan, Mexico. She received a B.S. degree from Colegio Teresiano in Marida and then taught two years. Silvia met the Maryknoll Sisters in Marida through a friend. She never thought she was going to join any religious Congregation. However, on October 9, 1956 Silvia went over to talk to a Maryknoll Sister friend to tell her she was interested in joining Maryknoll and she learned that Mother Mary Joseph Rogers, Foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters, had died that day. She considered this a very special coincidence. She entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1957 and after her first profession of vows she taught Spanish as a second language at Rogers College and also received her B.S. in Education from Rogers College.
In 1964 Sister Silvia was assigned to Mexico where she taught principally in secondary schools in both Marida and Mexico City after which she again joined the faculty of Rogers College for two years. Returning to Mexico she earned her Masters in Social Work from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. In 1979 Sister Silvia was assigned to Guatemala and adapted from life in the metropolis of Mexico City to the jungle, river trips and outdoor plumbing of the rural Peten. As a talented guitarist she enlivened liturgies and meetings in all her pastoral work as well as helping out in courses for health promoters.
In 1982 she continued pastoral work with the indigenous in another state of Guatemala, San Marcos. As a member of an inter-disciplinary team her ministry included adult education for women, preparation of religious leaders, basic training for health promoters and programs for alcoholics and their families in the context of a rural parish organized around Basic Ecclesial Communities and later she continued to assist the health promoter program on a diocesan level.
Last year Sister Silvia was asked to be the Administrator of a Maryknoll Residence serving Maryknollers in Central America as a meeting place, retreat house and house of warm hospitality to those coming to Guatemala City. For more than 20 years the Guatemalan people have stolen Sister Silvia’s heart and the feeling is obviously mutual when you see her in her ministry. This people with a history of years of violence continues to share a deep faith and hope for a better future and they are able to laugh and enjoy life in spite of all the experiences of violence.