As Fr Romulo Gallegos, SDB, Director of the center of the Basilica of Don Bosco in Panama City explained: "The patron saint of Panama is Our Lady of Santa Maria la Antigua. But St. John Bosco is so revered that every year on January 31, four hundred thousand people gather, in a sort of WYD."
For his part, Fr Carlos Vilanova, parish priest of the Basílica, underscored that "the procession this year accompanies the relic of the Saint", and is a novelty made on the occasion of the presence of the Rector Major for this feast.
In front of a basilica full of faithful, mgr. Ulloa expressed his gratitude for the presence of the X Successor of Don Bosco, Fr Á. F. Artime, and of Fr Fabio Attard, General Councilor for Youth Ministry. Mons.Ulloa then emphasized that the procession in honor of St. John Bosco, "Father and Teacher of Youth", would symbolically close the activities of the World Youth Day, which Pope Francis presided last week.
In his homily, the archbishop of Panama expressed "that you stop being young when you stop dreaming ... I become old if I stop dreaming. Today we are living the extension of the WYD, celebrating this solemnity of St. John Bosco, patron of young people and of WYD2019, and we can say that 'Panama belongs to Don Bosco and Don Bosco belongs to Panama'."
"While we know that the body of Don Bosco is in Turin," the prelate added, "the heart of Don Bosco is in Panama."
About 100 young people of the Salesian Youth Movement, who came from Colombia, Mexico, Central America and other countries of the world, participated in these celebrations, who wanted to remain to live Don Bosco's feast in the country of America where Don Bosco is most loved.
"Don Bosco continues to be as modern as it was 160 years ago," the Rector Major said. "The profiles of boys and girls will be changed. We know that young people with their cultures are different, but they are very similar in the heart. We offer them a home, a family, a project, we prepare them for life and present them with freedom to God, who loves them so much."