A New Vincentian Parish in the Region of Panama

After several months of dialogue between the Diocese of Colon-Kuna Yala and our confreres, our Region of Panama accepted the offer of a new parish: Santa Maria de Belen, Costa Abajo, Colon, with the main center in Escobal, about 30 minutes from our residence in Colon on the other side of Gatun Locks.


Signing the documents indicating that the Vincentians would be responsiblefor the parish in Escobal


Bishop Manuel Ochogavia Barahina, O.S.A. installed our confrere Norberto Abrego Bonilla, C.M. as pastor on Sunday, January 7, 2018 at 10:00 a.m., in the presence of the Regional Supeior, Teodoro Justavino and the former pastor, Horacio Peña, secular Priest, who will return to his  Diocese in Colombia.



The faithful gather to celebrate mass in Escobal


Padre Teo Justavino, C.M. (Regional Superior), the outgoing pastor of Escobal, Bishop Manuel Ochogavilla, Padre Norberto Abrego, C.M.

The heavy rains impeded many people from crossing the Locks; Eliseo Troetsch, who will assist Norberto, was delayed with a van full of parishioners from Miraculous Medal and St. Joseph’s Churches, arriving as the Bishop delivered his homily in which he thanked the Congregation for the many years of service in Colon, hoping this new area offers many opportunities for continued collaboration in the evangelization  of Colon.

Many people from the 29 communities of this parish came to thank Fr. Horacio and welcome the confreres at the installation ceremony at the beginning of Mass.

The name of the parish, Saint Mary of Bethlehem, derives its title from the visit made by Christopher Columbus to a small village on the Atlantic coast of Panama, in the Province of Colon near its border with the Province of Veraguas.  He named it Belen (Bethlehem) and left a portrait of Mary which still hangs on the chapel and is known today as ‘Santa Maria de Belen,’ patroness of the Diocese.


Celebrating Mass in Escobal


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