SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA
Holy Cross Mission Parish was founded in 1958 by Father Joe Walijewski, a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse, whose missionary instincts preceded by several years the request made by Pope John XXIII, that the Catholic Church in the United States send ten percent of its religious personnel, especially diocesan priests to serve in Latin America.
The parish is presently estimated to include a population of 100,000 souls. The parish includes:
- Nine chapels (in addition to the parish church)
- School grades 1-12 in two sessions for 2,000 students
- A home for 200 abandoned elderly, staffed by Religious
(The home is independent of the parish)
The original church could only hold 300 people. Holy Cross Parish raised funds to build a new church (see photo above) to better accommodate the parishioners, supporting their spiritual needs as well as their educational needs.
The old parish church was converted to a theater-hall for large concentrations to complement the pastoral center.
The school children of the Diocese of La Crosse use their “Mite Boxes” during Lent to help raise money for the Holy Cross Mission Parish. With their help, the new church can now accommodate 1,000 persons.
Bolivia is one of the least developed countries in South America. Almost two-thirds of its people live in poverty and Bolivia’s infant mortality is 44.6 percent per 1,000 births. The minimum wage in Bolivia is 1,000 bolivianos (approx. $144.00) per month.
Many people do not even make this much, as minimum wage is largely ignored by employers.
Priests from the Diocese of La Crosse having served (and serving now) in Bolivia:
- 1956: Fr. Joseph Walijewski
- 1958: Fr. Aloysius Wozniak
- 1961: Fr. Emmet Faber
- 1963: Fr. Ed Penchi
- 1968: Fr. Robert Pedretti
- 1973: Fr. Tom Donaldson
- 1975: Fr. John Swing
- 1988: Fr. (now Bishop) Robert Flock
- 2012: Fr. Max G. Guerere
- 2013: Msgr. Joseph Hirsch
- 2013: Fr. Hector Moreno
- 2014: Fr. Keith Kitzhaber
Please send any donations to:
Diocese of La Crosse
PO Box 4004
La Crosse, WI 54602-4004