By Seán-Patrick Lovett
The description “Catechesis in the Parish” doesn’t really do them justice. In reality, these World Youth Day morning gatherings are a multiple
The idea is to aggregate groups, according to common languages and nationalities, in various parishes around Panama City, for three days of reflection, reconciliation, and recreation, ahead of the main WYD events with the Pope.
The catechesis itself involves a presentation by a Cardinal, Bishop, or other ecclesial authority, followed by a Q & A session. But there are also testimonies from young people themselves: often powerful stories of how they found God, or rediscovered their faith, or came to terms with a major life crisis.
Then there’s the music. Lots of it. All followed by the celebration of
Who is there?
On Day One, around one thousand young people crowded the Parish of San Francisco de la Caleta in downtown Panama City. They came from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and South Africa. They were there, partly for the sheer joy of being there, but mostly to reflect on the theme and challenge of the day: “Here I am, Lord”.
Leading them in that reflection was the Bishop of Dallas, Texas, Edward Burns.
What did the Bishop say?
Bishop Burns engaged his young audience with a series of anecdotes that ranged from his personal vocation and devotion to Our Lady, to how he overcame his fear of flying.
But, most of all, he focused
The Bishops’ challenge to “shut off your iPhones, shut off your iPads, all your electronics”, caused ripples of surprised and amused reactions among those present. But he quickly qualified his provocation: “Find yourself in the presence of the Lord”, he said, “open your heart, your mind, and your lives to Him, and let Him speak to you”.