World Youth Day Panama 2019

A final reflection on WYD Panama '19 by Fr Reynold Jaboneta

The things that we love tell us what we are.” St Thomas Aquinas

World Youth Day 2019 in Panamá was about love. The theme: I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your Word. (Lk.1:38) is about love.

Pope Francis in his homily at the final mass unpacked the challenge of loving God and being loved by God when he said: “God is real because love is real; God is concrete because love is concrete”.

Love is real and concrete in the life of every young person. Love that finds its expression in the present. Pope Francis said: “You, dear young people, are not the future but the now of God. Not tomorrow but now, for wherever your treasure is, there will your heart also be".(Mt. 6:21)

Empowered by this love, the Holy Father gave this encouragement: “Go back to your parishes and communities, to your families and your friends, and share this experience, so that others can resonate with the strength and enthusiasm that is yours. With Mary, keep saying “yes” to the dream that God has sown in you". 

It is my prayer that my own "Yes" when the Church called me to be a priest and my every day “yesses” be an expression of love and motivated by love alone. 

Every day is a story of “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your Word.” It is a story of love. I am a pilgrim walking through the path of love. Indeed, the things that we love tell us who we are.


Transformation - by Deacon Josh Clayton

When I am asked to deliver training or a reflection, people often say, you don’t need to write something, just use what you have used before. That statement in itself is normal enough, but I struggle with it, mainly because when I go to use a previous presentation I find it difficult to work with and to be really honest, I struggle to believe that what I wrote before is what I believed and wanted to share... Sometimes it looks so immature and basic! 

Change results in us thinking and behaving in new ways, our pilgrimage has done this. Like any experience we have, it changes us. It makes us new and makes some of our previously held ideas not seem the same anymore. 

After a big couple of days, including the vigil and the final Mass, our pilgrimage group gathered to share some of our experiences of WYD. Stories were told of the generosity of others, the struggles, the joy of encountering so many Catholic youths and, of course, deep and transformative encounters with a God who loves us and gives us all we need to be the joy-filled people we need to be.

We have been transformed by this encounter with Christ and the young church we belong. 

Pope Francis told the gathered people at the final Mass that they are the Church of Now. Not the future - now. What does that mean for us as a pilgrimage group? It means we have to take the transformation we have experienced and allow it to shape our future and the future of those around us. We have been changed, we have been renewed and to not act on this would be to deny the work Christ has commenced in us.

I struggle using old material because I change, we all change. Sometimes we need to be willing to take a risk and go on pilgrimage. We never know the gifts we may be given.

Final Mass - Our pilgrims have been part of the final Mass in Panama for WYD. It was an amazing grace-filled moment and we look forward to coming home to share our amazing WYD experience!

A pilgrimage not a holiday - by Deacon Josh Clayton
I like travelling. One thing I particularly like is travelling with my wife, Anna, and my children. Sometimes it is a challenge, but it really brings me joy to experience new things with those I love and those I cherish most in the world. This pilgrimage, I am not with my family, but I am with my diocesan and universal family.

We are all journeying together; for many different reasons, many different experiences. All of us are journeying towards our loving Father, with Christ and the Holy Spirit to guide us. We aren’t tourists, we are on a pilgrimage together in faith, to encounter our God. Some would say 'why do we need to leave Australia to that, God is with us wherever we are, we are the Church no matter where we are'? 

All of this is true, but sometimes we need to step away and give to God time, have experiences - and even extreme fatigue - so we can truly see what is important in our life. Surprisingly, many of us are discovering that priorities may not be as we thought - pilgrimage is teaching us that! 

I miss my family, but our World Youth Day family is experiencing what is important, that our Church is young, alive and working to renew our world.  WYD is teaching us to say 'yes' to God, and to know that we are not just made for comfort, we are made for Greatness! 

The Theology of Koala Kare - by Fr Reynold Jaboneta
Koalas are unique creatures in Australia. I am fortunate to have seen one in the wild one day on my way to Baradine from Coonabarabran. When we visited the University of Southern California I saw a sign: Koala Kare. This particular signage opened up some points to consider as a pilgrim seeking ways “to find God in all things.”

Aside from kangaroos, koalas are very Australian. In the Parish of Saint Euphrasia, at Granada Hills in California, we were welcomed warmly and addressed us “our Australian friends". "Our Australian friends" - this statement of affirmation and friendship is, for me, the theology of Koala Kare.

In the journey of faith, seeking understanding - which is what theology is about - this journey seeks to encounter every person in friendship. In my experience as a pilgrim, friendship with my host family. Friendship expressed in sharing of their journey as parents, as a married couple and as an immigrant in this beautiful country. The friendship extended in the wider parish community, where everyone I met welcomed me with a smile and an affirmation that they are happy about the presence of pilgrims; with the homily of Bishop Michael, a happy disruption in their life. We care, that is why today you have become our "Australian friends".
In the great scheme of things, it is very biblical. “I call you friends,” Jesus said. In that deep friendship, Jesus was able to offer his life for friends. In that friendship, the Body of Christ is built on love. 

Koala Kare is the theology of encounter, of seeing the other as a friend; and being a Body of Christ makes sense, because I am deeply loved, no matter what. In the practical sense of things, what Homeboy Industries is affording me: The arms that welcome; that I am not a hopeless case, that I possess that unshakable goodness, that I am walking in grace, that kindness is the only strength there is...seeing God in all things, the theology of encounter.

The Shower of Blessings, every drop of water to wipe away the dirt from the body of a homeless person, to refresh the body from the effects of homelessness, to share a story to banish loneliness because I am here to listen... Seeing God in all things, Koala Kare... The theology of encounter. May I carry this grace and gift wherever I am as a pilgrim. 

Day 4 of WYD in Panama - journey to our Catechesis and time as the truly Universal Church!


Day 3 of WYD in Panama - The Pope has arrived in Panama!

Day 2 of WYD in Panama - Catechesis
Bishop McKenna was invited to lead a catechisis at Balboa Union Church. The Bishop spoke on the theme: “Here I am Lord”.


Day 1 of WYD in Panama - Opening Day in Panama!
First Full day in Panama. Opening Mass overlooking the water and also many happy joyful faces...World Youth Day has started! Aussie gathering and some even got to see the WYD Cross and icon close up!


The Official WYD Facebook page offers some live feeds
during WYD -

WYD day 8 update: Today we farewelled the St Euphrasia Parish. Our hearts are full from the love shown to us over this last week. Thank you Mgr James and the entire St Euphrasia community. We presented the St. Euphrasia Community with the Icon of Our Lady of the Central West.

WYD day 6 update: Our group was lucky to visit the University of Southern California Catholic Chaplaincy today, the Caruso Catholic Centre, where we celebrated Mass and heard of the great work of outreach to the campus. Some of the group also visited Universal Studios.

WYD update day 5: Our time was spent with the youth of the St Euphrasia parish. We visited the school and gained a real insight into the life in this vibrant community. The evening was capped off with an improv comedian and for some a time with the parish advisory council. Truly a blessed day

WYD Reflection - Fr Reynold: Even if I am the Assistant Vocations Director of the Diocese I rarely got a chance to be with our seminarians. Towards the end of the year and early this year I was fortunate to have some of them at Coonabarabran. Today, our seminarian Thao shared with me how this pilgrimage is a learning curve for him. It is teaching him how to be patient. It is teaching him how to deal and work with a group. I started my journey as well with World Youth Day for the Diocese as a seminarian in Madrid, Spain and a newly ordained priest in Brazil for another World Youth Day. Now six years into the priesthood it is my time to listen to our seminarians as they take a pilgrimage to speak in the path of priesthood.

To learn how to be patient and to work well with a group are for me what our readings of today are about and worth pondering. In the language of the letter to the Hebrews to be completely like his brothers so that he could be compassionate. The healing narratives in our gospel speak of that compassion, too. Yet that compassion to be effective with others needed to be rooted in deep look for a place and be absorbed in prayer.

What overwhelms us so far today, what plans we have so far imagined to do, invite us to connect everything in prayer, fruit of our prayer, because prayer is a journey with God who is God of compassion. Prayer is a wellspring of love promoting only love and building with love. Prayer is everything we do particularly as it expresses the goodness and the mercy of God. In this pilgrimage be sanctuaries of deep prayer. Amen 🙏 -Fr Reynold

WDY Day 4: visit to Santa Barbara.

WYD update Day 2: Today we visited the San Fernando Mission, we heard of the hard work and impact of the padres who came to California to work to help others know God. We also visited the Bishop Alemany High School and were lucky enough to have a guided tour of the campus. And it didn’t stop raining all day! Our day concluded with Mass and a time of sharing about our experiences of our time of pilgrimage to date.

WYD update Day 1 - St Euphrasia Parish Granada Hills, California: After a long trip we arrived at the Parish of St Euphrasia. We were welcomed with open arms, with an American Breakfast in the parish hall and lots of happy welcoming people who helped us forget how tired we were. We were introduced to our homestays and had some to time with them to rest and recover before we gathered for the evening Mass with the youth of the Parish.

Fr Jim welcomed us all so beautifully, giving all a blessing at the end of Mass, including the St Euphrasia parish delegates for WYD. We are blessed to be in such a welcoming community, who have shown us the true meaning of welcome and the worldwide Church we are all part of.

Pilgrims from the Diocese of Bathurst have arrived in Los Angeles, on the first leg of their pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2019, in Panama and Bishop McKenna leaves today to join them. The theme for this WYD is “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your Word” Luke 1:38

Around 1,000 young Australians are expected in Panama. The Bathurst group includes 33 young people, including some from Mt Isa and Toowoomba. Our pilgrims will be accompanied by the Bishop, Fr Reynold Jaboneta - Parish Priest of Coonabarabran and Coonamble, Deacon Josh Clayton and Seminarians Diep Nguyen and Thao Nguyen.  

In preparation for Panama, the pilgrims will spend time in Los Angeles, where the local church will welcome them to experience how young Catholics there are participating in works of service.

From there, they go to Panama City for the events of WYD, culminating in the arrival of Pope Francis. Bishop Michael has been appointed as one of the bishops who will give English language catechesis and celebrate Mass with youth from all over the world.

Bishop McKenna has been invited by Cardinal Kevin Farrell - Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life - to serve as a Catechist on 24th January. The Bishop will talk to the young people attending WYD on the theme 'I am the servant of the Lord". Afterwards, he will preside and preach at Mass.

Please pray for the pilgrims that their journey will be safe; and that they may return with the fruits that God wants.

Regular updates from our pilgrims will be posted on this web page and via the RISE Facebook page.

Pilgrims Prayer

Official Prayer for WYD Panamá 2019

Merciful Father,

You call us to live our lives as a way of salvation. Help us to recall the past with gratitude, to embrace the present with courage and to build the future with hope.

Lord Jesus, our friend and brother, thank you for looking upon us with love. Let us listen to your voice as it resonates in the hearts of each one with the strength and light of the Holy Spirit.

Grant us the grace of being a Church that goes forth with vibrant faith and a youthful face to communicate the joy of the Gospel. May we help to build up the kind of society we long for, one where there is fairness and fellowship.

We pray for the Pope and the bishops; for young people; for all those who will take part in World Youth Day in Panama and for those who are preparing to welcome them.

Our Lady of Antigua, Patroness of Panama, help us to pray and live with generosity like yours: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).


A little about Panama:

Panama is bounded by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Panama City’s unique location has made it a hub of trade and immigration and is well known for the Panama Canal. Panama has a tropical climate. WYD'19 will be held during January, which is in the middle of Panama's dry season. Low temperatures in the evening average 24°C and reach an average high of 29°C during the day.

Diocese of Bathurst WYD'19 Pilgrimage to Panama 

The Journey begins now!

13 - 20 January 2019 - Immersion experience in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, CA

21 - 30 January 2019 - WYD Week in Panama

31 January 2019 - Rest and relaxation in Orange County, CA

2 February 2019 - Arrive in Australia

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