Many Sydney Catholic Schools pilgrims arrived in Panama already familiar with Central America, fresh from five days exploring Mexico City and its surrounds.
Students visited multiples churches on their journey in Mexico, including the Church of the Fifth Apparition of Our Lady, the Church of Santa Maria Tonantzintla, Our Lady of Remedies and the Church of Santo Domingo.
Together with thousands of others, they spent their fifth day on a 200 year-old pilgrimage route journeying to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Their fellow travelers wore flowers, a symbol of Our Lady, and pilgrims sang Marian hymns and watched as blue and white balloons were released into the air.
God was trying to tell me that it’s all his creation and it’s all beautiful
Prior to their departure many pilgrims said visiting the old basilica was one of the things they were most looking forward to about their trip, and their time there included Mass and the chance to view a portrait of Our Lady that appeared miraculously to Saint Juan Diego. They also explored the grounds, which feature healing pools and rose gardens and connect the sinking Old Basilica to a new building that can hold over 2000 worshipers.
“I don’t have word to describe how amazing all of the churches are that we’ve seen,” a pilgrim told Arise SCS Youth.
“It…opened my mind and heart to listen to what He (God) is trying to tell me, especially trusting him.”
“I wasn’t 100% sure about doing this trip but I prayed a lot…and I’m very, very glad that I came in the end.”
Pilgrims also saw the city’s secular sites, visiting local markets, the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City’s Main Square (Zocalo) and the National Palace.
Another pilgrim told Arise he found visits to cultural landmarks, including Aztec temples and pyramids, built his appreciation of God’s kindness and love for all of humanity, as well as educating him on local culture and history.
“I think God was trying to tell me that it’s all his creation and it’s all beautiful, and how much he loves us to make this so amazing for us all.”
“These past four days have just gone away in a flash – I’m so excited to go to Panama, it’s going to be an amazing experience.”