Bolivia – Lay people of the Salesian Family in action

14 November 2019

(ANS - Santa Cruz) - The Second Vatican Council invited the pastors of the local Church to "open spaces of shared responsibility in the life and mission of the Church". Don Bosco, here too, was a forerunner; in his Oratory, he counted on the help of everyone, both consecrated and lay persons, to carry forward not only the activities, but also the charism. Today in Bolivia, this sensitivity is spreading. An example is offered by the case of Cecilia Dörfelt, a lay person involved in the Church and in the Salesian Family, coordinator of the Association of Mary Help of Christians - Youth (ADMA Youth) of Bolivia. She was also recently appointed Executive Secretary of the "Commission for the Brotherhood", organ of the Bolivian Episcopal Conference which curates collaborations with several German dioceses for several development projects in Bolivia.

Cecilia is the first Bolivian to take up this position. Her surname, atypical for where she lives, comes from her grandfather, who came from Germany, but she was born and raised in Santa Cruz. Third of four siblings, the only female, she received a Catholic education and the Salesian charism from her parents. "They always told me that I am a Salesian in my heart ... And when I had vocational doubts they told me to talk to God. The consecrated life intrigued me, but I think I can make better use of my talents as a lay person," said the 30-year-old woman.

As head of the Commission for the Brotherhood, today she is primarily concerned with fostering links between Bolivia and the two German benefactor dioceses of Trier and Hildesheim.

The projects the Commission deals with are as numerous as they are diverse. There are national, diocesan and local projects. Cecilia admits that it is difficult to summarize all the initiatives being supported, but she can proudly report a statistic. "About 80% of all social projects in Bolivia are carried out by the Catholic Church. And we are involved in 50% of these projects. This is an indication of how important our work is."

A project that she has recently visited, for example, concerned the agricultural formation of communities in the jungle which can only be reached by river. Another project involved the direct donation of 10,000 euros from the diocese of Trier to support the fight against forest fires in the Bolivian Amazon region.

Cecilia currently participates with the representatives of the dioceses of Trier and Hildesheim in the process of reviewing the guidelines of the last ten years and in the definition of the new guidelines for 2020 – 2030. And looking to the future, she is already also working on the preparation of the Jubilee for the 60 years of collaboration.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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