PANAMA CITY (CNS) – Just before leaving the physical and human warmth of Panama Jan. 27, Pope Francis stopped to thank the thousands of official volunteers, young and old, gathered at the capital city’s Rommel Fernandez Stadium to tell them that they had just participated in an event similar to one that took place early in Christianity.  

In their case, they didn’t just multiply food, he said.

“You could have easily chosen to do other things, but you wanted to be involved, to give your best to making possible the miracle of the multiplication, not only of loaves, but also hope,” he said, telling the volunteers to go out into the world and make that attitude contagious.

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Pope Francis arrives at Panama City’s Rommel Fernandez Stadium Jan. 27, 2019.  

 

Volunteers at Panama’s World Youth Day showed it was possible to renounce one’s interests in favor of others, the pope said.

World Youth Day 2019 in Panama may not have been the largest, in terms of attendance. Event officials say some 113,000 registered as pilgrims to attend various events – though it was obvious that many more who did not register filled up the venues.

One of the gifts of Panama’s World Youth Day, El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz told CNS, is that at a time when some in the world are embracing nationalism, the international Catholic festival for youth, in which 156 countries participated, delivered the opposite message. “World Youth Day says, ‘We’re one family of humanity,’” Bishop Seitz said.