On Saturday, 21 May 2022, in the city of Cochabamba, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer celebrated the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Province of Bolivia. The Eucharistic celebration took place in the Retreat House “Nazaria Ignacia” at 10.00 a.m. The celebration was presided over by Mgr Jorge Angel Saldías Pedraza, OP, Bishop of the Diocese of Tarija and concelebrated by Mgr Juan Gómez and Mgr Iván Vargas, Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of Cochabamba, Fr. Antonio Alcocer, Vicar General, Fr. Boris Calzadilla Arteaga, Provincial Superior and all the confreres Redemptorist in Bolivia who gathered this week in Cochabamba for their spiritual retreat and the annual Assembly of the Province.
Fr. Boris Calzadilla, C.Ss.R., took the floor and gave the welcome and the meaning of the celebration by introducing the Redemptorist Missionaries to all those present at the celebration, saying:
The Redemptorist Missionaries are apostles of strong faith, joyful hope and ardent charity; they are consecrated to Christ the Redeemer when they announce the Good News to those most in need. Today we celebrate in a small, simple way the 25th anniversary of the Province of Bolivia, but that is nothing compared to the more than 100 years of Redemptorist missionary presence in Bolivia, where hundreds of Redemptorists have spent and worn themselves out for the love of God and for love of this Bolivian people, among them 7 bishops and two cardinals.
The presence of you, Bishop Jorge, Bishop Juan, Bishop Iván; Fr Antonio Alcocer, Vicar General; Fr Juan Carlos Vargas, OFMConv; Fr Manuel Hurtado, President of the Faculty of Theology, and all the brothers and sisters who are present here, is for us a sign of gratitude and a sign that God loves and blesses this Congregation, it is also to renew our communion with the Local Church, with the Church where we work with burning zeal.
May God watch over the whole Redemptorist Family, priests, sisters, lay people who share our spirituality and our apostolate. May God grant our Congregation vocations to continue to announce the Abundant Redemption in this present world. To all of you, to our pastors, thank you for being present with us.
Then Msgr. Jorge Saldías, in his sermon, highlighted several points of the Easter journey, of the journey of the Church today and the Redemptorist mission in Bolivia. Here are some excerpts of it:
I want to tell you that I join with joy with happiness, in this beautiful celebration of 25 years of journey and response to the Redemptorist mission in Bolivia.
We are in the Easter season, and in the readings that we have listened to, we find ourselves with the mandate of the Risen Lord, go and announce the Good News. Jesus reminds us that we are not of the world. This is not to say that the world is evil, but to take care of the most beautiful, precious thing that the Lord has placed in the lives of the disciples. It is his presence, joy, peace, love, and not only love but that we remain in love, which is the centre of our identity of being disciples and messengers of the Lord….
As Pope Francis says: “The Church does not grow by proselytism, but by attraction and that which attracts is by the testimony of life…” or as Father Benedict said: “One does not begin to be a Christian by a good, ethical idea, but by a personal encounter with Jesus Christ”. All this to return to the centre of our life and our preaching, bringing the Lord into our lives, and it is the Lord who directs our actions, our postures, our words, that is bringing the Lord into our lives.
And here we can easily connect with the motto of the Congregation of the Redemptorist Fathers, as it says on their coat of arms: “In Him, in Jesus Christ there is Abundant Redemption” and this is the centre of our mission, to present Jesus Christ and to announce that in Him there is Abundant Redemption, this we can relate to the gospel of St. John 3, 16 “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not die but have everlasting life…. “For this we always need to return to our roots, to our founders, to the root of St. Alphonsus Liguori, who teaches you to return to the root and this root is nourished by prayer, by study… always seek the most precious treasure that the Lord has given us, the experience of God, that is what convinces, that is what society needs today.
The experience of God is what the Church today seeks and asks for, as Father Francis asks of us, “The mission, evangelisation with a Synodal Church”, as the motto of the next Synod of Bishops on Synodality says: “Synodal Church, in communion, participation and mission”, for what? To strengthen this principle again and for the Congregation of the Redemptorist Missionaries, it is nothing new. They carry it in their vocation, community life, participation, mission, and communion. This helps us to go back to our roots and strengthen this divine principle.
Dear Redemptorists, these 25 years that we are celebrating, is the fruit of a long journey, a journey and response, of the great Redemptorist missionaries in Bolivia since 1910, the great missionaries who have given their lives and have given witness to our Church in Bolivia. We remember the places where they have evangelised and continue to evangelise, Tupiza, Vallegrande, Oruro, Vicariate of Reyes, Potosi, La Paz, Tarija… Notice these great Redemptorist missionaries; they have walked and have announced the Word of God…
May the Redemptorist Congregation, may the Redemptorist Family continue to walk in this direction, as they are doing, combining the work of the parishes, the mission, the catechesis, the evangelisation with the preaching of the popular missions. I believe that this is a great challenge for the Church, and you are champions of faith, and you know how to carry it forward.
Once again, I unite myself to the prayers of all of you, of the superiors, and I ask that the Lord may continue to bless your life, your vocation and your ministry and that you may always feel the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, under the patronage of Perpetual Help.
The religious, laity, family and friends who attended the celebration, expressed countless words of congratulations and gratitude for all the witnesses and proclamation of the abundant love and mercy of the God of life, which continues to manifest itself in the work of the Redemptorist Mission in Bolivia.
Fr. Boris Calzadilla, C.Ss.R.