We are on our countdown to WYD Panama 2019 and this Caribbean country, hot in its weather and overall hot in its way of welcoming, has already been transformed by the grace of the preparation of the event that gathers hundreds of thousands of young people from the 5 continents.
The capital of the world that connects brings the whole globe together as one family
Panama is geographically known as an isthmus, which means, a narrow piece of land connecting two very large areas, this small country connects the Americas and it makes one only piece of land. And what does that have to do with WYD being in Panama next year? That as far as the country is known as an isthmus, by strength of faith, the country will also be recognized as the capital of the world that connects brings the whole globe together as one family, as Church, and here our hearts will be strongly united to our amazing God.
The warm welcoming of the Church in Panama
It has been 8 months that I have arrived in Panama, I came with other 4 missionaries of Shalom Catholic Community and we were the first international volunteers to reach the country. Even though people did not know us well, on the first weeks we could already feel the warm welcoming of the Church in Panama, the people started to teach us how to speak the “panamanian” spanish, people also invited us to their houses to try the local typical food such as: ceviche, las tortillas, el arroz con coco y guandú, los pescados (seafood), among others.
We have also been experiencing the Panamanian culture, which is very rich be it in its type of music (i.e. el tipico), dances, handicraft,etc. The country has been very influenced by the United States, you will see many coffee shops and fast food restaurants in every corner. However, around the country, you can see people from everywhere: China, India, Germany, Italy, France, Brazil, with Lebanese Origins, etc. There are also many indigenous communities throughout the country, you will certainly meet them, they speak other languages and their economy is based on handicraft and agriculture.
The natural beauty
Another thing I wanted to mention is the natural beauty, although the country has been into a strong process of development, you can still see many birds on the streets and there are wonderful landscapes all around the country.
Some of the main events will take place at the Cinta Costera, which is a very nice zone in the city. Next to the Cinta Costera there is also the Casco Antiguo, the old part of the city, where you will find many good restaurants, beautiful and old churches, as well as unique landscapes. In another part of the city there is the Causeway where you will be able to rent a bike and have fun with your friends, visit the Museum of Biodiversity, and have a nice sightseeing, as this part of the city is a maritime place and very harmonic.
Another famous and important place is the Panama Canal, this is a great engineering construction which also bring a strong and great history with it. There are still many other things and places to visit and explore in the country, I am sure you will enjoy it and be surprised!
Faith is a Panamanian value
Well, the external things are amazing and they compose the culture and the way of being of the people, but I might say that the most beautiful thing in this country is what the people bring within, their faith, their faith is their value! Panamanian people are very thirsty for God and even those who do not believe also have a great openness to faith.
The Church and the Bishop are very well seen and respected all around the country. In Panama the people are indeed the church and it is all a real expression of joy, closeness, welcoming, and simplicity.
After the preparation of WYD has started, the young people have become more and more the real protagonists of the life of the church. One of the things that I might say that lacks in the Church here is the vocational waken up, so this is one of the fruits that the dioceses in the country are hoping to receive, recognizing that WYD awakes the heart of many people to live a vocation within the Church.
Are you ready to let God explore the deepness of your heart through the experience of the universal church during WYD? Have you ever thought about living a specific vocation in the Church? So on the Vocations Fair, that will take place during WYD at the Parque (Park) Omar Torrillos, you will also have the chance to see and meet different congregations, communities, movements, that will help you to open your mind about the diversity of vocations that exist in our church. Come and see!
The presence of Our mother in a very special way: she is guiding us to accomplish the will of God
One last but not least theme that I would like to share with you is that this WYD has something especial, it has a simple and deep touch of beauty, tenderness, care, maternity, humbleness… what does that mean? It means that on the preparation of WYD Panama 2019 we are counting on the presence of our mother in a very special way, she is the pilgrim who is guiding us to accomplish the will of God, she is the one who is bringing us in her womb and in her heart we are being consoled. She is also the one who unites the peoples and the universe in her heart, there the humanity that suffer and who are orphans may find a place, and in our region, especially in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, Colombia, Brazil, we have been into so many critical realities and Mary has also been the one who is showing us the way, the path of love, peace, and mercy.
Panama is a very Marian country consecrated to Nuestra Señora La Antigua.
The WYD logo also shows clearly the image of a woman that brings the meaning of her being Mary, as the channel that connects the world and leads the humanity to Christ.
On the begining many local people and from other countries as well were asking “how will Panama be able to host this event? It is too great for it!”, so the bishop full of the Holy Spirit said “Mary, was too small to receive the savior of the world, she was young and, coming from a small city. But it was the will of God that made her the mother of our Lord and so she said “Be it done to be according to your word” and so WYD in Panama is the will of God and, we can see the challenges we have before us… but we are saying together with our mother “Be it done to be according to your word!“”. So we are not afraid, because He who is great can do great things in our favor and holy is his name!
An interesting story from the Sanctuary of Fatima
The Sanctuary of Fatima in Portugal also gave an image of Our Lady of Fatima as a gift to the Archbishop of Panamá, Monsignor José Ulloa, and the devotion to the virgin has also grown in the last months. There is an interesting story told by a priest from the Sanctuary of Fatima, saying that he asked the Panamanian Bishop
“Monsignor, how is the preparation of WYD going?” and the bishop answered “well, Panama is a very small country, we have never hosted an international event such as WYD, and we do not have great financial conditions, but I am not worried, because I have consecrated WYD in the immaculate heart of Mary”, so here we go following our bishop and if we are with our mother, we are certainly in good hands!
A special and deeper experience with Our Lady during the preparation of WYD
I have also been having a special and deeper experience with Our Lady during the preparation of WYD, for it has been a hard task to work at Local Organizing Committee and coordinating a sector, WYD is a world event and I have been facing many challenges on my service, as I am also young and I do not have many professional life experiences in order to humanely work for such an event, but the will of God brought me here and I have been happy that Jesus has given me his mother in order to find in her: simplicity, humility, love, and total abandonment in the hands of the Lord. I have been experiencing how great it is to meet Jesus through the immaculate heart of Mary, she is mother and her feminine, holy and infinite love guides my heart to love more the Church, the world, and God. Her presence in my life keeps also surprising me, making me discover the wonderful things that great One has done in favor of me, and with her I can recognize that holy and mighty is His name!
Our Lady guide us throughout our history and all our life
Mary’s maternal love is for everyone and she looks at each one of us as unique children of hers and her eyes guide us throughout our history and all our life. So on your way to come to WYD Panama 2019, I invite you to welcome her in your heart also because she is the Mother of Providence and if you are thinking about coming to WYD and do not know how, ask her, because she is mother and her Son listens to her! So also with Saint John Paul II we say together: Totus tus Mariae! Totus tus Eclesiae!
Here is the servant of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word!
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