For a long time, Bolivia was considered the poor-est country on the South American continent. Even though the economic situation has improved somewhat, not much of the increased prosperity has reached large parts of the population. The Church alone is committed to helping the weak, the poor and the socially marginalised, but at the same time faces great challenges. The nearly 9 million faithful in many places face a glaring shortage of priests and religious. Here, ACN is a committed and reliable partner to the local Church in coping with its tasks.
About 80% of the 11 million Bolivians are Catholic. Serving the faithful becomes a mammoth task, especially where there is a lack of priests and religious. This includes both the cities, which are growing rapidly due to rural exodus, and the impassable and wide-ranging areas of the Bolivian Andes. The capital La Paz, for example, located in the Andes at an altitude of 3,600 metres, now has one million inhabitants due to the influx of people from rural areas.
Accordingly, the number of faithful in the parishes is also increasing, so that more priests are urgently needed. ACN has responded to the applications of the affected dioceses and also supported the training of 29 prospective priests in 2020.
The pandemic is also taking its toll on the local Church. The Carmelite religious sisters in Santa Cruz are a telling example of the hardships in times of the coronavirus. The religious sister usually earn their living by baking hosts for Holy Mass. But due to the risk of infection, services were also severely curtailed, leaving the Carmelite Nuns without an important source of income.
The good news needs to be proclaimed, especially to the suffering and marginalised.Krzysztof Bobka, Social Work Coordinator in the Diocese of El Alto
ACN helped them with a subsidy for their livelihood. We were also able to support other communities of religious sister in Bolivia through material aid. In addition, we helped priests with Mass stipends and provided financial aid for vehicles and construction measures in Church facilities.
Existential aid secures pastoral care in the Andes
The religious sisters of the congregation “Misioneras de Jesús Verbo y Víctima” work in the most remote, poorest and difficult areas of the country, where there are few priests. Six of them are active in the Andes in the Bolivian Archdiocese of Sucre. Even long and arduous roads fraught with danger do not deter them from carrying out their duties. The nuns have become indispensable for maintaining pastoral care. ACN supports them through existential aid.