The Angels of Oruro Helping the Poorest Families in Bolivia
They go wherever the need is greatest – that is the mission of the Ursuline Sisters in Brazil. Above all this means reaching out to the poorest families, to the children and young people, the sick and abandoned. They are the "angels" of the bleak industrial city of Oruro, situated at over 10,000 feet among the mountains of Bolivia. Oruro was once one of the most important centers for tin, silver, gold, tungsten, sulphur and copper. After the markets collapsed in the 1990s, other branches of industry began to establish themselves here, such as agriculture, cattle rearing and soap and shoe manufacturing.
The Ursulines have been present in Bolivia since 2009. This particular congregation, founded in Poland in 1920, has always focused on the education of children and young people and the ministry to families in need. The congregation has attracted many vocations among girls and young women, right from the start. Today it is present in 15 different countries.
"Our first community in Bolivia was established in Oruro," explains Sister Anna Grazyna Malecka, the superior of this small community of three religious. "We live on the edge of the city, where there are many poor families living far from the nearest church, who find it difficult to take part in the religious instruction, the sacraments and the parish life of the community," she adds.
These three Sisters are typical of the many communities of religious Sisters in Bolivia, who keep the pastoral and parish work going and take a great deal of the strain off the shoulders of the handful of overstretched priests. It is they, the Sisters, who visit the isolated villages – sometimes up to 100 of them – in the parishes. Without their work of service many parishes of the local church would simply be unable to survive. It is a service that the priests are simply unable to provide.
In the words of their foundress, the Ursuline Sisters support the families by forming children for God and for society. They conduct liturgies of the Word, teach religion and give marriage preparation courses. They pray with the families and help them to resolve all kinds of problems; they care for the sick and promote the education – both academic and spiritual – of the children. Two of these hard working “angels” regularly visit the town prison, where there are many children, living with their convicted mothers, since they cannot live alone and have nowhere else to live.
The Sisters themselves have spent many years living in modest rented accommodation. However, last year Bishop Krzysztof Bialasik Wawrowska turned to ACN for help to build a house. He had already purchased a plot of land on which – thanks to the help of our benefactors – they are now building not only a more permanent convent for the sisters but also a complete parish with a church and community center and also a drop-in outpatient’s clinic. This building will be "an immense help for our mission," Sister Grazyna stresses, and thanks us and our benefactors warmly for our support of $20,000. "May God bless you all!"