Did you know that prior to WYD in Panama there will be a special event focused on the 25,000 indigenous people our confrere Joe Fitzgerald ministers with? Did you know that Joe Fitzgerald has emerged as a spokesperson for the indigenous people of Panama and has a major role in preparing for the major pre-WYD event?

John Carney, CM sends this brief piece from Panamanian TV to help us understand the Ngäbe people with whom confreres of the Eastern Province minister. What are their hopes for a special gathering of indigenous people in January? This gathering will take place prior to the Vincentian Youth Gathering and World Youth Day. Pope Francis is said to be aware of and interested in this gathering. (See the video clip in Spanish)

Soloy is about 45 minutes off the main road and in that community is the Ngäbe Buglé reservation. The people there have preserved ancient practices and young men and women, motivated by their faith, are prepared to give witness to their faith and to engage in an exchange of experiences with other indigenous groups. This meeting will be held in Soloy (January 17-21, 2019).

Rafael Mitre is one of the young men preparing for this gathering. Since last year (2017) various activities have been organized in order to create a fund that will help pay for the registration fee of young people from this community. According to him, the most important dimension is the spiritual growth that this gathering will provide.

Like Rafael, Emilda Santos, 20, believes that this world gathering of indigenous groups will open new doors and will enable people from this area to make themselves known to the rest of the world.

At the conclusion of this gathering of indigenous youth, the young men and women, accompanied by other international pilgrims, will travel to Panama City where they will participate in the Vincentian Youth Gathering and then in World Youth Day.

Many of these young men and women have participated in similar experiences in Brazil and Poland.

Recently our Provincial Fr. Steve Grozio visited there for the first time. He wrote

This was my first visit ever to the Comarca of Soloy where Joe Fitzgerald ministers to the Ngäbe people, a large indigenous community. From a high mountain road, Joe showed me a view of a vast expanse of tree covered hills. Although I could only see a few houses, he explained that about 25,000 people lived there and pointed out the more distant areas which he could only reach by horseback. The Ngäbe people have a deep appreciation for the balance of nature and the cyclic rhythm of life. Joe’s understanding of the culture and values of the people is a great asset to his ministry.

 

Fr. Joe Fitzgerald Overlooking the Comarca of Soloy

Translated by:

Charles Plock, CM

Eastern Province, USA

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