Panama - The new life of "America's Valdocco" ​​after WYD

30 January 2019

(ANS - City of Panama) – During the World Youth Day, the Basilica of Don Bosco in Panama permanently hosted 1,500 young people, welcomed the leaders of the Salesian Youth Movement in their Forum and was a pilgrimage destination for thousands of young people from around the world. Currently the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, is guiding the triduum in preparation for the Feast of Don Bosco. On Thursday 31, he will celebrate the solemn Mass. The Director, Fr Josè Francisco Romulo Gallegos, speaks to us about this center, symbolic across the continent.

What changes in the heart of the Salesians after the Pope's visit?

I believe that the Church's attention to young people must always be more responsible. Even for the poorest and those in need. The Rector Major wants the Basilica of Don Bosco to be transformed into the Valdocco of America, that is a place where you can receive all the young people of America, precisely because Panama is the country that represents its union, the heart of the Americas.

What are the Salesian's activities in Panama?

We have the Minor Basilica of St John Bosco, located in one of the poorest and most “popular” neighborhoods in the city of Panama, where every day we cater to thousands of people in need. Here we celebrate six Masses every Sunday. We work especially with street children, so that they do not fall into the hands of local gangs. We also have a technical institute, and from 2020 we will manage another structure, which we will use at school, and which is the result of the WYD in Panama.

The Basilica of Don Bosco has become a point of reference for the whole city. Every day hundreds of people arrive from all the districts to confess, because our confessionals are always open.

Why is Don Bosco so loved by Panamanians?

There was a very good priest who began to promote his devotion. He was called Fr Domenico Soldati and he promised miracles thanks to the intercession of Don Bosco. And incredibly miracles happened. In truth, the patron saint of Panama is Our Lady of Santa Maria la Antigua, but Don Bosco is so loved here that every year, on January 31, 400,000 people gather. A sort of little WYD, and people even dress up as Don Bosco.

Thus people await the feast of Don Bosco with huge enthusiasm.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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