By Neil Kavanaugh
Students, faculty, and people from far and wide gathered at Catholic University this past Saturday to celebrate Panamá in the Capital. Panamá in the Capital is D.C.’s version of World Youth Day, which was held in Panama City, Panamá this year. World Youth Day is only held every three years, the first being hosted by Pope John Paul II in 1984 in Rome. The event consisted of speakers in the Pryzbyla Center, a special Mass spoken in Spanish, English, and Sign Language, and a concert performed by The Hunts.
In the morning, there was a panel in Caldwell Hall on the different perspectives of prayer featuring Msgr. Robert Panke, Sr. Faustina Bianchi, and Ed and Joanna Herrera. The Herreras took up the challenge of demonstrating how prayer can fit into daily life by giving examples of the way they balanced a healthy prayer life with the responsibilities of raising a family. Another panel was on true love and dating, hosted at the John Paul II Shrine. Greg and Jacqueline Schleppenbach shared their love story, telling the audience of mostly Catholic University students that it can be a part of God’s plan to get married later in life, as they had themselves. They explained how they felt less pressured in the dating scene once they realized that God was watching out for them, and helping them towards happiness.
One panel titled “Holiness and Hollywood” was a sit-down with Catholic film producers who opened the floor to answer any questions that the attendees had about their faith and profession.
“I really enjoyed the speakers especially the talk on Holiness in Hollywood,” said freshman, Lauren Goodwin. “The Catholic producers that spoke offered interesting insight on creating spiritual films and other forms of art. It was inspiring to hear as a student working towards a creative career.”
The Mass was held in The Basilica, and every pew was filled. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, led Mass.
“For me, it served as a very visible image of the true diversity and size of the Catholic Church which I think can sometimes be forgotten about; there were people of different ages and cultures, some who spoke different languages, and some who were actually unable to speak and had to have an ASL interpreter with them, even one of the priests,” said freshman Olivia Sensenbrenner. “But everyone came together, united by their love of Christ and the Church. It was just altogether a really cool experience to be a part of.”
There were many performers during the day: The Jorge Zurita Band, The Clovers, Hillbilly Thomists, Los Capuchinos, Corrie Marie, The Restless Pontem, and Marie Miller, but the concert by The Hunt was the perfect ending to Panamá in the Capital. The band consisted of siblings who created their own music and songs.
“The songs were also easy to sing along to even though I’d never heard them before,” said freshman Brea McNamara “It was a great way to end the day. People were dancing, singing and laughing…even some Franciscan friars were hopping around.”