Panama Penitentiary is a ‘Workshop of Freedom’ for Inmates Constructing the World Youth Day Confessionals

The Holy See announces the official agenda of Pope Francis during his apostolic visit to Panama for WYD 2019
November 20, 2018

Panama Penitentiary is a ‘Workshop of Freedom’ for Inmates Constructing the World Youth Day Confessionals

Panama, November 9, 2018. Inmates at the La Joya and La Nueva Joya Penitentiaries in Panama are constructing 250 confessionals to be used for the Sacrament of Reconciliation during World Youth Day.
A response to Pope Francis’s particular outreach to the imprisoned, the work aims to provide not only practical skill development, but also a ministry of healing in preparation for the Holy Father’s visit to the country in January.
“... I have learned to use the tools and to work in a respectful environment, all together towards a common goal. Thanks to the WYD, I feel included and happy to work for God.”

Jesús Ramos, inmate

The confessionals will be placed in the largest park in downtown Panama, Park Omar, which will be called “Parque del Perdón” (“Garden of Forgiveness”) during the event. Pilgrims will be able to receive the sacrament in their native language in the park throughout the week.
As WYD approaches, the 35 inmates in the program work from 8am - 4pm assembling crosses, sanding, painting and upholstering.
“Even though we may not be there, we feel that we are already doing something important. I give thanks to God for this opportunity that we have been given as inmates, to contribute towards such an important mission as is the WYD.”

Luis Dominquez, inmate

The project is supported by a government agency that sponsors professional development. Coordinator of projects for the penitentiary system, Alma de León, explains that the work is a way to demonstrate the prisoners’ potential, and their desire to be different and useful. She says that the inmates feel spiritually attached to what the confessionals signify, and they feel intimately connected to WYD and to the youth of the world.