Panama receives Pope Francis and welcomes the thousands of young pilgrims from one hundred and forty nations participating in the World Youth Day (WYD). During these days “Panama becomes the capital of the youth of the world”. Anywhere you look you find groups that carry the flag of their countries, they identify themselves with phrases and logos stamped on their shirts, they sing and laugh, they take pictures without ceasing to later reminisce these experiences and outbursts of new horizons. It has been a very pleasant experience to participate in the JMJAR and in the WYD. Being with the young JAR creates new desires to live, love and serve; It spreads hope and joy.
At the Colegio de San Agustin in Panama, three days before the arrival of the Pope, three hundred and fifty young people of the Augustinian Recollect Youth gathered from eleven countries. Three intense days of prayer and coexistence; catechesis on mission, communication and the Augustinian Recollect identity. In the evenings the typical songs and dances of each country were shared. In Panama, the vocational Fair has been prepared, where young people from different congregations and institutions explain their charism. The Augustinian Recollects make their presence felt too. The social networks and the media are a huge means to help the many young people who wanted to come but were unable to do so to participate to some extent. The volunteers of Panama, of the Colegio and the team of the General Secretariat of Vocations and Youth have organized this meeting in detail.
In the opening Eucharist of the JMJAR I proposed to young people to dream new ways. I reminded them of the logo they had prepared and the Augustinian motto that they had proposed: “Mary carried Christ in her womb, we carry him in our hearts” (S. 189,3). A motto that is in keeping with the theme of the WYD “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your Word” (Lk 1:38) to encourage them to open their hearts and have as reference Mary, the mother of Jesus . “If we let ourselves be guided by her, Panama will not be a passing experience, but will teach us to carry Jesus in our hearts. Jesus is the one who moved the heart of Augustine and is the one who today also moves us to have “one soul and one heart directed towards God”. With Mary, the experience of Panama will become Gospel, mission and solidarity service, wherever we are.
The Archbishop of Panama, Mons. José Domingo Ulloa, at the opening of the WYD invited Mary to ask for shelter and urged everyone with passion and courage to holiness: “Being holy leads us out of spiritual and material corruption, of everything that leads us to sin and offend God. A saint defends the defenseless: the unborn, but also the one born in misery; defends migrants, seeks justice; pray, live and love the community; He is cheerful and has a sense of humor; always fight, get out of mediocrity, live the mercy of God and share it with your neighbor. “The Archbishop of Panama exhorted the pilgrims to dream. “We only stop being young when we stop dreaming”. “The dream of the poor,” he said, “becomes a reality at the WYD in Panama.” “Let’s dream together believing that a new world and a new church is possible.” He emphasized: “the change in the Church will come only from your hand, dear young people.”
The Pope from Panama launches a message of hope, solidarity and peace. A message that captures the hearts of young people and of all those who are simply willing to open their hearts to Christ and live the joy of the Gospel.
Miguel Miró OAR
Prior general Augustinian Recollects Order