The Focolare Movement in Bolivia

Bolivia is known for its high poverty level and its strong social and cultural differences. This has shaped the character and the priorities of the Movement since its first arrived in the land.

1968 Italian focolarina, Anna Sorlini, visits Bolivia. Following her visit, Spanish men and women Religious spread the spirituality to other parts of the country. In the mid-1970s, the first communities begin to appear. Word of Life groups are formed in many cities, with a strong presence of young people.

1969 A Mariapolis is held in La Paz, organised by Father Michele Rothelmel with the help of Padi Gonzalez and Father Roberto, who travel from Argentina for the event. Later Mariapolises are held in Cochabamba with the presence of focolarini from Chile. The first young people embrace the Gen life.

March 20, 1986. A women’s focolare is opened in La Paz. The Foderaro arrives from Italy, and lives in Cochabamba to support the local Focolare community.

1996 The focolare moves to Cochabamba.

January 1999. A men’s focolare is opened in Cochabamba. The adult callings in the Movement are strengthened (focolarini, Volunteers, New Families, and so on).

Spreading. There are currently local communities in the regions around La Paz, El Alto and Potosí), in the valleys of Cochabamba and Sucre, and in the tropical regions of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Chiara Lubich’s spiritual family in Bolivia is quite diverse not only by geographical provenance, but also by social background, lifestyle and age. This is both a blessing and a challenge.

Two educational centres on the peripheries. The Chiara Luce Centre, The Nursery, some 30km from Santa Cruz, with a kindergarten for 100 children, a section for adult education and academic assistance. The “Centro Rincón de Luz” is on the periphery of Cochabamba. It offers a holistic academic education to more than 50 children. It also offers adult education courses and professional development workshops.

Businesses of the Economy of Communion (EoC) in fields of nutrition, electricity, turism and building. A Fund has begun to promote small businesses that are able to hire.

In 1995 and 1996, Mariapolises were held in Aymara. Aymara is one of the main indigeneous cultures in Bolivia. The Mariapolises were the seeds of successive visits to the Aymara community to know one another better and build dialogue.

Participation in and promotion of ecumenism through the “Circle of Prayer” and the preparation of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Participation in the “Godparents at a Distance” project with more than 150 adoptions in five cities: Cochabamba, Sucre, Oruro, La Paz and Santa Cruz.

  1. Bruna Tommasi, one of Chiara’s first companions, visits Bolivia.

Third EoC congress of Latin America, attended by the central coordinator, Luigino Bruni who also attended a conference organised by the Bolivian Bishops Conference, Caritas and Jubilee Foundation.