Carrying seeds of love to Peru & Chile
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.