I met Maria Augusta through her sister, Andrea, who was one of my classmates and best friends in college. We were also both members of the Home of the Mother Youth in Chone, Ecuador.
When I first met her, she seemed like a very serious person. Later on, I realized that it was just that she was a bit shy. She was very intelligent and she knew how to act in every circumstance.
I remember how she slowly but surely started attending the youth group meetings we had on Sundays. We often stayed to make rosaries afterwards. She was interested in learning how to make them and that was what kept her coming to the Sisters’ house every so often in the afternoons throughout the week.
One day, while we were making rosaries, she helped me cut a string that I couldn’t cut on my own. I’m not sure what happened – all I know is that the scissors went in the wrong direction and I ended up cutting her hand. I was amazed at her reaction! All she did was move her hand and say, “Don’t worry about it. God shed more blood than this for me.” Her reaction was an example for me. She was no more than 16 years old at the time.
Everyone loved being with her. She never talked about herself. I think the only things I knew about her were thanks to her sister. Whenever we realized she was going through something, she just downplayed it and tried to change the subject.
I was always impressed by the fact that even before she had her conversion, she always dressed very modestly and knew how to make others respect her. I think it was something that came naturally to her. Whenever someone got upset, she would immediately sing a song to make us laugh.
We once went on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Las Lajas in Colombia, stopping in Quito along the way. What she was most looking forward to was to ask Our Lady to help her not be afraid. I didn’t know what she was afraid of and since Maria Augusta was so reserved and discrete about her personal things, I didn’t want to ask her. At a certain point, however, she came over to me and said, “It’s that God is just so great that I can’t…” She really struggled with her vocation, as she feared making her parents – especially her father – suffer. She was the youngest in the family and the apple of her father’s eye. She loved him a lot as well.
One day, I was praying Vespers in church when she walked in. When she saw me praying, she came over to pray with me. We were praying Psalm 44 and she asked me, “What does this Psalm make you think of?” I told her, “Jesus”. We continued praying and when we had finished, she asked, “Is such an intimate relationship with the Lord – as the Psalm describes it – really possible?” She was touched by the words, “Listen, daughter, behold: pay me careful heed. Forget your people and your father’s house, that the king might desire your beauty. He is your Lord.” When I told her that I always applied that phrase to myself, whenever I was having a hard time listening to the Lord, she got up and left without letting me finish. I could tell she was struggling inside.