Thank you!January 20, 2019
On Wednesday July 27, during the week of WYD 2016 in Krakow, and several people were commenting on the rumors that the following World Youth Day would take place in Panama. However, I would not believe it to be true until I heard the announcement from Pope Francis himself. For many years now, I had a great hope to see so many young people coming together to celebrate a WYD in Panama, but I saw it as something that was unlikely to happen.
Finally the news was announced in the Closing Mass of WYD Krakow. It was an unforgettable moment, I was overjoyed to see the young Panamanian people who were watching the live broadcast back home, hearing the announcement.
It might seem funny but the first thing that I thought was, “Who will be organizing this great event? How will we raise the necessary funds? Can Panama be prepared to receive this amount of young people? There were many other questions, but then I had this thought of this opportunity we had as the Church of Panama to be a platform for thousands of young people from all over the world to feel welcomed and embraced by the love of God. I remember during one of the meetings with the Pope, I proposed for a Marian theme for this WYD, which he was very happy to accept.
It was then that we began the work for this great celebration. I started to realize all the positive things WYD would bring to our country. One of the stories that I like to share the most is that from the moment that the announcement was made for WYD in Panama, I made a request for the image of Our Lady of Fatima to be present at WYD. For months, I waited for an answer. It was a Godincidence (God’s work) that one day after the Pope enrolled as pilgrim, I received confirmation that the image of Our Lady would be in Panama for WYD.
Today, the day before we start this celebration, I can say that the greatest challenge has been making the Panamanian people believe that we are capable of putting together an event as massive as this. It was an internal challenge for Panamanian Church. I am also glad to see the faces of the volunteers who have been serving for over a year; international volunteers who have left their homes to come from their home countries to serve the Lord and volunteers who have left their jobs and studies on hold to dedicate two years of their lives to organizing WYD.
I have witnessed how WYD can change someone’s life forever as it is a unique experience of encountering God. I have learned the joy with which young people live and the gift that World Youth Day has given me has been to discover the potential young people have, allowing me to dream with them.
Monsignor José Domingo Ulloa, Panama