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Rome Reports

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Panamanian prisoners build confessionals for WYD

World Youth Day will be celebrated in Panama in January 2019. With at least 300,000 young people from all over the world expected to participate, the whole country is preparing for the event. 

Thirty-five prisoners from the "La Joya" and "Nueva Joya" prisons are also helping. They have signed up to build 250 confessionals, where young people can receive reconciliation during WYD.

The deputy director of the penitentiary system welcomed the idea because it will help the prisoners feel that they are part of WYD and society. One bonus is that this task will teach them new work skills.

Assistant Director, Panamanian penitentiary system
"They are putting forth their best effort, so that this work will be valued, dignified and recognized. They built them with their own hands and with love for this event."

The inmates see this project as an opportunity to learn a new trade for when they get out of prison. It has also taught them teamwork and collaboration. 

Although they are not all Catholic, they feel a part of WYD. 

"I feel good about this project. I had the opportunity to learn something from this, so I don't leave here to go back to the same thing. This is where one is changed and reformed in order to live the life we have left outside."

"It's not only about the confessionals, but we're going to be in front of the world. We know that in 2019, we will be the focus of the Catholic world. I feel very good to know that young people from all over the world will come and use the confessionals we've made with so much love and effort."

They're preparing two confessional models. The interior designer who created them was inspired by the curved lines of the WYD logo and its colors.

The confessionals will be in an area called "Forgiveness Park." Although the prisoners will not be able to see their work on display, they are happy they can give many youth a new beginning.