Bathed by both the Pacific and Atlantic, the Republic of Panama is located at the far east of Central America and famous for its interoceanic canal. This small country of 75.517 km² and a population of nearly 3.5 million is a welcoming place with a rich ethnic culture and deep Christian roots. This year it celebrates the 500th anniversary of the first diocese on the American continent, Santa Maria La Antigua (1513). Panama is a meeting point as well as an entrance and departure point for the Americas.
With the arrival of three focolarini on July 31, 2013 a “temporary focolare” was set up, which, as its name suggest, is a focolare that is set up in a local community of the Movement for a limited period of time according to the availability of the focolarini. This experiment is already in is seventh year and this time the temporary focolare was comprised of three focolarini from Germany, Paraguay and Venezuela.
It was quite a beautiful and intense experience for everyone. Many relationships were cemented and many people had the opportunity to delve more deeply into the Focolare’s spirituality of unity. There were gatherings for children, pre-teens and young adults, visits to communities on the outskirts of the city, such as Pacora and Chorrera, 60 km from the capital. Moreover, with the presence of Emmanuele, a focolarino priest, the Eucharist was celebrated and many houses blessed in regions that diocesan priests are only able to visit on a monthly basis.
The days were simple and joyful, in which many were able to enter more deeply into the ideal of unity; for example, P. who said: “these conversations with people from the focolare have been among the best moments of my life;” or P. M., parish priest who runs a pastoral mission in Arco Seco, Azuero Peninsula, 250 km from the capital. He was grateful that they were able to visit him only for the purpose of saying hello. From this simple gesture the possibility arose of having an additional meeting with more people.
There was also a considerable presence of entire families at several of the events that were organized during that month, including families that are going difficult moments and who said they had found the “healing balm.” The generous presence of several members of the Focolare community from Costa Rica was also very much appreciated.
In a gesture of gratitude towards Nuccio Santoro, Michael Wegmann and Emanuele Colombo, the Panamese community organized a splendid barbecue with 80 people, many of whom were meeting the Focolare for the first time. The night was filled with local rhythm and song.
The focolarini have departed leaving the flavour of a family in everyone’s soul, gratitude and a renewed urge to be on the front lines building a society that is nearer to the people, more fraternal and united.
From Panama, Javier Lombardo T.