Inmates from La Joya and Nueva Joya prisons have begun the construction of 250 confessionals to be used in the Sacrament of Reconciliation at World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019.
The confessionals will be set up in Omar Recreation Park in Panama City, which will be called “Forgiveness Park” during the youth event. In total, 35 inmates are working from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, sanding, painting, and assembling the crosses and wooden confessionals.
Interior designer Lilibeth Bennet created different two models for the confessionals, both inspired by the WYD logo and using the same colors.
In an interview conducted by WYD organizers, the prisoners said that the project is not just “simple cabinetry work,” but allows them to contribute to a project aimed at young people who will be able to “take a different path” than they did.
“Even though we won’t be able to be there (at World Youth Day) we still feel that we’re doing something important, and I thank God for the opportunity he has given us as prisoners to contribute to a mission as important as World Youth Day,” explained Luis Dominguez, who is in charge of painting and supervising the sanding of the confessionals.
Jesús Ramos, another one of the inmates constructing the confessionals, said that even though he is an Evangelical, he is sure of the valuable contribution that World Youth Day is making to young people.
“I am grateful that they took me into account because I’ve learned how to use the tools here, to work based on respect and together toward the same goal…I feel included and happy to work for God,” he said, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
The project coordinator for the prison system, Alma De León, explained that the work is being done with the support of an instructor from the National Institute for Professional Formation and Training for Human Development of Panama, and it is a way to demonstrate the capabilities of people in prison.
Sharon Diaz, deputy director general secretary of the prison system, said that the inmates form “a single team, and they know the importance of working on a project as unique as this one, regardless of the faith they profess.”