Trip to Bolivia demonstrates love, dedication of St. Louis priests

Young adults from St. Louis on a trip to the archdiocese’s Latin America Apostolate, including Mary Staten, right, and Jessica Burns, helped students with homework while visiting a tutoring program of Maria Reina Parish in La Paz, Bolivia. The apostolate supports the parish, staffed by Archdiocese of St. Louis priests.

Last month, nine young adults from St. Louis participated in a mission immersion trip to Bolivia, spending time one-on-one with people. They witnessed the work of the archdiocese's Latin America Apostolate, served homeless people, assisted with the parish lunch and tutoring program and toured the parish health clinic, among other activities.

Mission in Bolivia busy in the works of the faith


They do eat and sleep — somehow finding time.

The priests at the archdiocese's mission parish in an impoverished area of La Paz, Bolivia, pack in a full day of visiting people grieving after a loved one's death; blessing homes; walking the neighborhood and assisting homeless people; conducting marriage preparation classes and Marriage Encounter gatherings; celebrating Mass at the parish church and a dozen chapels; gathering with a youth group and senior citizens group; and much, much more.

Marked by love



They're the children of children who've been living on the streets. Babies born to drug-addicted mothers. Youngsters who've seen horrible things or been abused.

Here, they find love.

It's a 2-year-old lovingly embraced by a staff member. A baby fed by a woman religious. A 3-year-old encouraged and given structure from his classroom teacher. A child with prosthetic leg helped by a physical therapist.

Who goes there? We do

Ah Canada. It has the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Rockies, French-speaking Quebec and fishing villages. Mexico and the Caribbean islands have beachfront resorts.

But South America? Bolivia, with its high altitude and rainforests? Who goes there?

Mission to Bolivia, land of peace

The St. Louis missionaries to the poorest country in South America bring the Catholic faith to people there, showing them God's mercy and love. Their parish work is seen daily - often from sunrise to much beyond sunset. But it also reflects in the people of the parish, from children to older adults, who are empowered and inspired to serve others or to take up the cross of Christ.

Essential work performed in Bolivia by priests from St. Louis

The work of the St. Louis missionaries in Bolivia isn't easy — taking them far away from home in an area of extreme need.

Father Patrick Hayden, pastor of Maria Reina Parish in La Paz, tells of a time in December when he was asked to celebrate the funeral Mass of a boy, Kevin, who had died.

The boy's home, which was under construction while the family was living in it, lacked some safety features and he fell off the stairs and hit his head.

He died in the hospital just before he was headed to surgery.

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