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(ANS – Cochabamba) – On Monday 19 March, in the Metropolitan Cathedral Archbishop Tito Solari SDB of Cochabamba presided at a solemn Mass to celebrate 25 years of episcopal ministry. On this special day he was accompanied by the Bishops of the whole country, diocesan priests and religious, seminarians, civil authorities and very many of the faithful. At the end of the Mass he was given many gifts and marks of recognition.
At the beginning of the Mass some significant dates in the life of the Archbishop were mentioned. He had been working in Bolivia since 1974, and was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and titular Bishop of Acque Nuove di Numidia on 16 December 1986 and ordained Bishop on 19 March the following year. On 7 March 1998 he was appointed Coadiutor Archbishop of Cochabamba, and then the Archbishop on 8 July 1999.
In his homily he expressed his gratitude to the bishops present and then opening his arms wide towards the people he said: “You are my family.” Then referring to his Salesian origins he invited the people not to concentrate so much on him, but rather on the children , the poor and young people victims of drugs.
To the young people present he said: “I love the young very much: they give meaning to my life, they touch me deeply. I feel that they are open to accept people who have discovered the meaning of life, they allow themselves to be drawn to them and follow them with docility. In the young I see their tenderness, their sense of wonder, the desire to live life to the full, the fascination of seeking and finding the Love of God, innocence and also the hurt that needs compassion. There are so many things about the young that move me. I hope that they will all discover how much Don Bosco wants us to be happy!”
Afterwards the Nuncio Apostolic, Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro read a message sent by Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of the anniversary. Once the Mass was over Archbishop Solari was the recipient of a number of gifts: the medal “Sol de Septiembre” was conferred on him by the Mayor of Cochabamba; he was declared “Shepherd of Peace” by the Governor of the Department of Cochabamba, in recognition of his contribution to peace processes and of his mediation in social conflicts. Others were presented by the Episcopal Commission for Education, by the Association of Private Schools in Bolivia, by the Federation of Businesses in Cochabamba, by the Workers’ Federation, and by the parish community of Saint Charles of Yapacaní.
Finally after having thanked everyone Archbishop Solari spent some time socialising with the various bishops, religious, priests, catechists and the faithful present.