On April 9th 1997 the South American provinces of our Congregation opened a new mission in Bolivia. From the very beginning this project was planned as a collective inter-provincial activity. After a rather long time of preparation the southern suburb of Santa Cruz de la Sierra was chosen, a new and very poor quarter. Even now, ten years later, you don’t see asphalted streets there. Three missionaries, from Argentina, South Brazil and Chile, started the mission in a parish. In the following years, the Spanish Province too showed her interest in this project and sent a missionary. In these ten years the mission developed very well. The missionaries from the first hour are now back in their countries, but their work was continued by their successors, and actually five confreres take care of two parishes in this suburb.
With a certain pride we can see two flourishing parishes, where, besides the more spiritual and liturgical aspects, the social aspect of the evangelization has received full attention. We have the advantage that in these two parishes several communities of sisters and one of brothers take part in the apostolic work and with amazing results. There are also a few foreign lay missionaries, and from the parishioners quite a number are very engaged and co-operating people. Our confreres participate in the different activities in the archdiocese and in the organizations of consecrated life, often as member of the leaderhip.
During the Easter-week last month the tenth anniversary of the MSF-Mission in Boliva has been celebrated. Almost all the missionaries, who in the past have worked in Bolivia, and also a few “candidates-missionary” came to Santa Cruz, and also the provincial superiors from Argentina, South and East Brazil, and Chile. From Spain came a representative of the group of "Lay Missionaries of the Holy Family" which has done very much for the material support of the Bolivia-Mission. And I was there to represent the general government. Besides the special celebrations in the two parish churches and in a number of chapels, where we together with the faithful have thanked the Lord for his abundant blessing during these ten years of mission, several meetings for the MSF-members were planned. We have seriously discussed about this collective missionary project in the past, today and in the future. We had also a session of study about the apostolate of vocations in the different South American provinces.
The provincial superiors too took part in these discussions and sessions, but they had a day more of meeting and discussion about topics as the common novitiate, the encounter of the South American Provinces in Chile (2008), etc. The week was closed with a solemn concelebration in one of the two parish churches and a festive "churasco" at "Nazareth", the center for spirituality and formation.
We wish our confreres in Santa Cruz a blessed continuation of their excellent missionary activities!
Wim van der Weiden MSF