Schools of Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Panama and Hope 

Father Eric Obaldia That CM reports the first cohort of participants in School of Forgiveness and Reconciliation in the Province of Chiriqui, Panama concluded at the end of July with a festive celebration for the graduates and their Families.

Program participants met three hours each Friday for 12 consecutive weeks at our Province’s Immaculate Conception Parish in Bugaba. The Peace Laboratory began with 25 workshop participants and finished with 21 graduates, of which 10 people have DECIDED to continue their involvement with the School because of the transformation they have seen in themselves. It was quite a success! Two graduates from this summer’s cohort offered their experience some insights:

Lilia: “It was a good experience where I found forgiveness and peace that for so many years I was looking forward to having and reconciliation … this has helped me to know myself and know my neighbor.”

José: “I was as a human being taught to become more detached and listen to others, not always make myself the victim … when I first arrived I thought”. What am I going to do here and, as the time it happened, there are moments that I need to express my feelings and avail myself of mutual assistance among all partners, grief is lost, the fear of speaking … ”

The next workshop is scheduled from September to November this year; family members and friends of those who were a part of this inaugural group are ambitious to participate.  The National Institute for Women in the Chiriqui region are supporting this School in advertising the program.

While Father Obaldia has hopes of expanding this program throughout the region. He is indebted to a number of groups for their generous accompaniment. He expressed his gratitude to the Foundation for Reconciliation, allies in Colombia and Mexico for their tremendous support, and the Congregation of the Mission of Saint Vincent de Paul for STI assistance.