Pilgrims from St. Benedict's Parish, Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church, St. Paschal Baylon and St. Gabriel's Passionist Parish. Photo courtesy of Alicia Escobar

Pilgrim's diary: An exercise in unity

By  Alicia Escobar, Catholic Register Special
  • January 26, 2019
PANAMA CITY – Friday was one of the best days so far.

Instead of heading over to our catechesis site in the morning, our group decided to hold our own reflection back at our hotel. The passage we reflected upon was Luke Chapter 1:28-38, which also contained the theme for this year's world youth day: "I am the servant of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your will." This exercise, which we opened and closed with singing worship songs and hymns, not only allowed us to reflect upon our time in Panama, but bonded us further.

Our group consists of a few different parishes from Toronto and the GTA: St. Benedict's Parish, Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church, St. Paschal Baylon and St. Gabriel's Passionist Parish (my parish), all led by Mariel from St. Benedict's. One of the highlights of this trip has been the way our groups have formed this community that cares, trusts and looks out for each other to get from activity to activity. To be able to worship, praise, and pray with such amazing people has been truly wonderful.

After a break for lunch, we made our way down to Cinta Costera for the Stations of the Cross. This has always been one of my favorite things to reflect upon and I really enjoyed the way that it was presented tonight. Every station was presented by a different country from North, Central, or South America, with a majority of the countries being Spanish speaking. It was a wonderful way to celebrate both Latin America and Pope Francis, while reflecting upon the Passion of Christ - reminding us how all these cultures are united, as Jesus died for all of us.

Then Pope Francis spoke. He reminded us that Jesus is walking with those who are suffering, and encouraged us to be like Mary, waiting at the foot of their cross to accept them.

Walking back to our hotel afterwards, the warm breeze fluttering through the many different flags of those also walking, I couldn't help but feel peacefully united with my fellow pilgrims. With my sister, my fellow St. Gabe's parishioners and new friends walking with me, I am looking forward to the rest our journey here in Panama.