Journey From Confirmation Catechesis in Panama to Hugging the Pope

This extraordinary journey began as a followup to his confirmation catechesis in our parish, St. Joseph’s in Colon, Panama. Then on to two World Youth Days, a ministry as Executive Secretary for Youth Ministry for the Panama Bishops Conference, and most recently an opportunity to actually hug Pope Francis! A moment he never dreamed of… and will never forget!

Yitzhak Gonzalez with Fr. Giuseppe Turati, Fr. Tomas Mavric and the Bishop Ochogavia

Mr. Yithzak Gonzalez was formed by our Vincentian confreres Alcibiades Guerra and Juan Aviles in St. Joseph Parish. I am sure they did not expect such a journey when they asked him, as a followup to his Confirmation catechesis, to form a youth group. Such are the ways of Providence.

Yitzhak participated in the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, along with Bishop Ochogavia and Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan, OAR, bishop Diocese of David. As an official Auditor, he was given the opportunity to address the synod. (We are attempting to get his text.)

Earlier, at the conclusion of the preparatory meeting for the Synod on Palm Sunday, he was privileged to hand the final document to Pope Francis. On this occasion, he not only took a ‘selfie’ with the Pope but even asked the Pope for permission to hug him. Pope Francis readily said yes.

See his fascinating interview on EWTN with Fr. Mark where he tells of having the privilege of handing the final document to the Pope.

Of the actual Synod he said, “In many countries of Latin America, the culture of discarding is lived, where young people are left aside and in some local churches the voices of young people are not taken into account, but here in the Synod it has resounded the voice of young people, and the Bishops have heard our voices.”

He was delighted when Superior General Fr. Tomaz Mavric CM extended an invitation to the Vincentian Film Festival.

Among the renovation projects in Colón expected to be finished for World Youth Day is the renovation of the Cathedral built in the 1930’s, gothic style. Yitzhak was also instrumental in the request of the bishop for a relic of Vincent de Paul for the Cathedral.

Yitzhak was named by the Episcopal Conference in January 2018 as Executive Secretary for Youth Ministry. Yitzhak has taken a year off from his regular employment in the Colón Free Zone to help organize World Youth Day. He and his fiancé still participate regularly at our parish.

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