Yesterday Kiwi pilgrims arrived in Panama and were welcomed by the Parish of Saint James the Apostle in Rio Abajo, Panama City. To say the welcome was warm, energetic and embracing is an understatement!!!
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Warm – The temperature hits 32 degrees each day! The people of Panama are also warm. Everywhere we go we are clapped and waved to. Walking the streets as a group of WYD pilgrim brings the greeting “Hola” along with waves and toots on car horns (the sound of Panama).
Energetic – Our first Mass began with a hymn that got everyone clapping and dancing. Gathered with the local Parish Priest, our own Bishop Charles and chaplain Father Alister, and Lativan Priest Fr Peter our first Panamian Mass was uplifting for tired pilgrims. After a meal, dancing and socialising, we welcomed Lativan and Irish pilgrims who are also staying in the parish.
Embracing – The NZ pilgrims are staying at a small chapel a sort walk from the main church – The Chapel of Saint Gabriel the Archangel. We are accompanied by the women of the parish who feed us and help us navigate the streets of this populous suburb. The Pilgrims sleep Marae style and (mostly) we got a good nights sleep.
Today we will encounter more deeply the local area, visiting Panama Veijo – the original European settlement of Panama City and encounter more of our fellow international pilgrims and the local parish – most probably with more food and dancing!
Pray for us – we are praying for you!!