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Carrying seeds of love to Peru & Chile

Posted on June 30, 2022, by Loretto Community

A woman bends over to assist her student with her writing in this archival photo.
Lupe Arciniega SL gives literacy lessons to Indigenous women in Tacna.
Photo: Loretto Archives

In 1964, two years after Colegio Loretto opened in La Paz, Bolivia, a Loretto house opened in Tacna, a city in the Andean foothills of southern Peru.

In these photos, Guadalupe “Lupe” Arciniega, who had taught at Colegio Loretto in La Paz, teaches adults and children in Tacna.

A nun in habit points to something out of the view of the camera while talking to the young boys in her class.
Lupe Arciniega SL teaches a class at Colegio Cristo Rey in Tacna, Peru. Of her time teaching in Latin America, Lupe has said, “It was a time of mutual learning.” She was learning about the local cultures and they were learning about hers.
Photo: Loretto Archives

Lupe, who would spend eight years in Peru, also developed educational programming for Telescuela Popular Americana to improve literacy and teach life skills and assertiveness training to impoverished Indigenous women.

A nun stands at the front-right corner of her classroom, as her students turn around in their desks and grin for the camera.
Valerie Ann Novak SL teaching in Tacna, Peru, in June or July 1965, wintertime in Peru.
Photo: Loretto Archives

Seventeen sisters would take part in missions in Peru and Chile. The experience of serving in South America changed their lives. The sisters embraced the cultures of the countries. They understood that their work was to walk with the people, not to act for them. It was understood that the U.S. history of domination and exploitation of the people in what was then known as the Third World must end.

As they returned from South America, the sisters raised the consciousness of Loretto, saying: “How privileged we are! How much we have to learn from the people of South America.”

In 1962, the Community announced plans for a new kind of mission in Santiago, Chile’s capital which is overlooked by the beautiful snow-capped Andes mountains.

For the first time in South America, Sisters of Loretto would not go to staff a school. Collaborating with many entities, including a broad mix of religious and clergy from congregations serving in South America, the Sisters of Loretto in Santiago made a conscious decision to live with the poor.

Two nuns in habits stand for a photo outside in front of a tree.
Marius (Elena) Sandoval SL, left, and Kristin McNamara SL in Santiago, Chile, in 1962.
Photo: Loretto Archives

Maria Visse went to offer her experience in teaching music. She served in Chile from 1963 to 1979. Kristen McNamara served from 1963 to 1970 and was hired by the diocese of Santiago to start a program supporting catechists — the program served parishes throughout Chile. Maria and Kristen lived in a low-income section of Santiago.

A nun in habit delightedly plays her guitar.
In 1964 in Santiago, Chile, Maria Visse SL, who stayed in South America until 1979, plays guitar while Lupe Arciniega SL looks on.
Photo: Loretto Archives

Jean Kelley, a trained sociologist, taught students how to conduct surveys with the Indigenous so that programming would fit local needs. In the photo below, she pauses while spending time with a family in Santiago.

A nun in habit poses for a photo with a Chilean family in this archival photo
In 1963, Jean Kelley SL visits with a family during the mission campaign to Santiago.
Photo: Loretto Archives

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