November 19-22, 2019: Our Lady of the Angels Province Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. visited our Order’s missions in Bolivia, to explore new ways of collaboration between the Friars of the Provincial Custody of St. Francis (of the Krakow Province) and our Province. This collaboration began 40 years ago, when the late Friar Flavian Goral, OFM Conv. started mission support and vocational promotion for the then new Bolivian mission launched by missionaries from Poland.
Sucre’s San Francisco Basilica (Bolivia) is under the care of the friars. The bell tower contains Bolivia’s “Campana de la Libertad” (Liberty Bell) – first rung in 1809 to announce their Declaration of Independence signed in Sucre, and again when Independence from Spain was attained, in 1825. The Liberty Bell – which is actually named “Immaculate Conception” – is rung once a year on August 6th – Bolivia’s Independence Day, despite its crack.
In the Andean city of Cochabamba, the Friars of Bolivia serve in parochial ministry as well as at the University. While there, Friar James enjoyed some time in the friary garden with the Custodial Vicar – Friar Orlando Montaño Palma, OFM Conv., another former Custos – Friar Anthony, and the present Custos – Friar Carlos Antonio Catalán Melgar, OFM Conv. Friar Carlos attributes his vocation to our late Friar Flavian Goral, OFM Conv. Those early missionaries are honored in many ways, including the artwork in the Quintanilla church (at left) of the early missionary Friars from Poland and the first generation of Bolivian vocations. Friar James also enjoyed a visit with Friar Roberto Tomichá, OFM. Conv. Ennobling the Franciscan intellectual tradition at Bolivia’s Catholic University in Cochabamba, Friar Robera is the well-known Conventual scholar and Author, as well as the Director of the Institute of Missiology of the Catholic University of Bolivia.
The Curia of the Bolivian Custody is now transferred from Cochabamba back to its original foundation house in Montero (on the outskirts of Santa Cruz). The people of Montero honored the friars with special Franciscan touches when the built the new church there to replace a much smaller chapel. The Bolivian Friars took the inspiration for the Church’s tabernacle (at fight) from its prototype in our St. Joseph Cupertino Friary, in Ellicott City, MD.