On January 25, 2019, the current International Mission of Bolivia was founded out of the reconfiguration of the three previous International Missions of El Alto (1993), Cochabamba (2010) and Beni (2016).
Today, we have two distinct missionary locations. In the first location, we serve Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Huayllani, Cochabamba, where they speak Spanish and Quechua. It includes 6 suburban communities and 22 rural communities scattered across the high plain and valley regions.
The second location where we serve is within the Apostolic Vicariate of Beni (it is as large as Nepal but has a total of twenty-five priests). This extensive area of our amazonian mission is made up of thirty-eight communities along the rivers of Isiboro, Sécure, Ichoa, Imose y Chimimita. The indigenous peoples Trinitarios, Yuracarés and Chimanes live there and they mainly speak Spanish.
While the most remote communities of Huayllani are about a three-hour drive from the parish headquarters, many of the communities of Beni take more than three days from Trinidad by boat. This is an expensive mode of transport due to the price of gasoline. We are looking into buying a boat with a cabin to facilitate our trips.
In Cochabamba, we form and collaborate with a network of catechists and two permanent deacons. We accompany and collaborate with many different branches of the Vincentian family. In Beni, we share and coordinate our mission with a network of indigenous animators and “apostoles”, and of course with the Daughters of Charity of EPARU (in Trinidad). EPARU is our base until we complete a project to build mission houses in several key communities. For now, we are in dialogue with several candidates, especially in Beni. Therefore, we need a confrere who will be in charge of formation. We already have a vocation promotion and initial formation plan.
At this moment, we are five missionaries from different provinces. In Beni, we have since the end of 2016 Fr. Andreas Medi, from Indonesia, who is our treasurer, and since the mid-2018 Fr. Rafael Brukarczyk, from Poland, who is the assistant superior.
In Cochabamba, since 2020, we have Fr. Toshio Sato, a Japanese confrere from the U.S.A., who is presently focusing on learning the language and the local culture. And we also have since 2010 Fr. Jorge Manrique Castro, from Bolivia, who is our vocation promoter and adviser to the Vincentian Family, and at full time since 2020 Fr. Cyrille de Nanteuil, from France, our superior, after 13 years of service in El Alto.
Fr. Rafael is about to return to the Poland province because after thirty years of missioning under extreme conditions, he is physically worn out. So, we need more missionaries for the Beni mission.
Below, we share our community pastoral action plans:
● So that our ministry is not reduced to just celebrating the sacraments, we are educating the People of God, developing a sense of community among the people, trying to involve and empower them.
● To avoid clericalism and ensure that the People of God entrusted to us grow, we are forming the communities of faith with teams of lay people, developing their potential and allowing them to assume their responsibility.
● To avoid the often common temptation of individualism in our work, we are walking together the ever new path of teamwork and community, from our Vincentian ideal of evangelizing the poor, according to our respective contracts and/or pastoral plans.
● To take steps toward the lasting establishment of the Congregation in Bolivia, which for many years of presence had not been seriously considered, we are also promoting a Vincentian vocational culture. Therefore, we work together with the different branches of the Vincentian family and we are looking for a house and our own land where we can live.
● To move toward self-sustainability, we are generating our own income through the parish ministry in Cochabamba and collecting donations to finance the mission in Beni.