SANTA CRUZ PARISH, BOLIVIA
Holy Cross 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 and educational needs.
The old parish church was converted to a theater-hall for large concentrations to complement the pastoral center. The Parish had the privilege of hosting the Holy Father, Pope Francis in July, 2015.
Priests from the Diocese of La Crosse having served 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
- 2016: Archdiocese of Santa Cruz de la Sierra accepts full responsibility for the parish. The mission of Fr. Joseph Walijewski in the parish comes full circle in its completion. We are grateful to God for the share we have had in building His kingdom in our midst. Please pray for the canonization of Servant of God, Fr. Joe.