Fr. Warren Brown, OMI
During the April-May Plenary Session of the OMI Central Government, the work of restructuring between two Units: The Province of Bolivia and the General Delegation of Peru, was concluded. The Superior General in council approved the statutes and created a new Unit: The General Delegation of BOLPER.
The new general delegation, BOLPER (Bolivia – Peru), arose because of the changes that have been taking place in the congregation since the General Chapter 2016’s amendment of Rule 98.b which requires the provinces to have a minimum of 60 members. Since the former province of Bolivia and the former general delegation of Peru had small populations of Oblates, both entities required a move toward unity in view of strengthening and renewing their missionary commitments and community life. Meetings between the leadership of the two units had already been initiated since 2002, but unfortunately this was interrupted. However, it seems that history wanted to assimilate them in a new way. January 2019 provided the opportunity to restart a dialogue, in the city of Iquique – Chile. This meeting fortuitously energized an act of good intentions by the leadership of both units, of which the Superior General was informed. Fr. Loudeger Mazile, OMI – former General Councilor for Latin America, attended this meeting as representative of the General Administration.
The history of Bolivia-Peru is closely linked by several factors. In 1952 Oblates arrived in Bolivia from the Province of St. Joseph – Canada and in 1957 another group of Canadian Oblates arrived in Peru from the Province of St. Peter. Later, other Oblates from Canada arrived as missionaries in the Oblate unit of Chile. This makes the initial histories of Peru and Bolivia very similar in vision and mission.
At various times the Oblate missionaries in these units spoke of the socio-cultural coincidence that exists between the two countries, being countries of Andean-Amazonian origin, especially the common origin in the Andean culture.
Since 1990 Oblates in Bolivia and Peru had the experience of a shared formation at the BOLPER Scholasticate, where post-novices from Bolivia and Peru consolidated their formation; formators were exchanged, and the experience of internationality was lived in a formation community. The experience of this house marked the journey of several missionaries. The BOLPER Scholasticate closed the year 2012, marking a very valuable cycle for many Oblates.
Since the initial meeting in 2019 in Chile, the leadership of the two units has been working together to establish statutes and a common understanding. They were assisted by Bishop Alberto Huamán, former general councilor, and Fr. Cornelius Ngoka, assistant general for formation. The BOLPER statutes were approved and the new General Delegation was erected by the Superior General in Council on April 29, 2022, with the official date of inauguration on May 21, 2022, the feast of St. Eugene de Mazenod. The Superior of the Delegation, Fr. Roberto Carrasco, and his council took office on this date. As a General Delegation, BOLPER is directly under the authority of the Central Government, as per Constitution 112 and Rule 112 a.
Our prayer and wish are that this new reality will be a source of renewal, a new beginning for the life and mission of the Oblates, at the service of the poor and the most abandoned.