It all started during World Youth Day week, when Maryknoll Sister Geraldine “Gerri” Brake, who runs Nueva Vida home for the elderly, received a surprise invitation from Panama’s archbishop to be among three people meeting Pope Francis at a morning Mass on Jan. 26.
The day of the Mass, Sister Brake went to Panama’s basilica early in the morning and the group met Pope Francis before the ceremony of rededication of the basilica’s altar.
“When I introduced myself as a Maryknoll sister, Pope Francis said, ‘Maryknoll,’ with great recognition in his voice,” Sister Brake recalls. “He also gave the three of us a special blessing and gave us each a rosary. … He took the rose we gave him and put it at the tip of the Virgin’s hands.”
Sister Brake also brought a stole for the pope that was sent by other Maryknoll sisters in Panama. The stole included the earth on one side, representing the care for our common home, and Santa Maria de la Antigua de Darien, patroness of Panama, on the other side.
“I spent the rest of the Mass in a spirit of gratitude, thinking of Maryknoll and our mission,” Sister Brake says. “I tried to name each of the residents (of the Nueva Vida home) and to pray for the people who make our life in mission possible.”
During World Youth Day, which lasted from Jan. 22 until Jan. 27, the Maryknoll Sisters, who have been in mission in Panama since 1943, joined this “noble country” in welcoming hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. They also shared their mission experiences with people at a World Youth Day vocational fair, hosted pilgrims from countries like Brazil, Guatemala and Japan and participated in many events alongside the people of Panama.
The Maryknoll Sisters welcomed pilgrims and prepared for World Youth Day in places such as Panama Pacifico, Las Mañanitas and Darién, Panama. (Photos courtesy of the Maryknoll Sisters in Panama)
To read Maryknoll Magazine’s coverage of World Youth Day Panama 2019, go to our website.
Featured Image: Sister Geraldine Brake (wearing blue dress) was asked to join another religious sister and a seminarian in giving the pope a rose to present to the Virgin Mary at Panama’s Basilica on Jan 26. (flickr/panama2019)