A letter from the Archbishop:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis wrote: “The Church which ‘goes forth’ is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative…and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads, and welcome the outcast.” (#24)
Since 1956, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has been going forth by sending priests to serve as missionaries in Bolivia. During my pastoral visits to Bolivia in 2012 and 2013, I have been greatly impressed by the joy of our missionaries and their great work in proclaiming the Gospel.
Three of our missionaries serve primarily in Maria Reina Parish in La Paz. In addition to preaching the Gospel and celebrating the sacraments in the main church and in various chapels, they also help train the laity to serve as catechists, lay leaders, and missionary disciples, as well as train seminarians in La Paz for the priesthood. Maria Reina also has a health clinic that serves 5,000 who need medical/dental care and access to medicines and food. There is also a lunch program to serve children who otherwise would suffer malnourishment. In addition to their work in La Paz, our missionaries also travel 45 miles outside La Paz to the parish called St. James (Santiago). Parishioners are Aymara—one of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia—with their own language and culture. There are 30 villages in the parish, each with its own chapel. There is no resident priest due to the severe shortage of native priests.
Since his retirement last year, Bishop Emeritus Morgan Casey continues to serve 6 months of the year in the Vicariate of the Pando where there are 250,000 people. Just a few months ago, this area suffered from terrible flooding that displaced over 3,500 families and severely damaged the only retreat center of the Vicariate.
All of this missionary work is possible through generous support of the faithful of our Archdiocese in the annual collection for the Latin America Apostolate. This year the collection is today, August 3, 2014. Please be generous so that our St. Louis priest missionaries in Bolivia can continue to proclaim The Joy of the Gospel.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson