Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Day of Celebration: The Memorial Mass

Chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Potrerillos Arriba

Yesterday (June 13) was a special day in Potrerillos Arriba, because the school (which contains grades K through 9) put on what turned out to be an extraordinarily impressive program celebrating the completion of three new classrooms, one of which will be a computer classroom.

Because this is Latin America and even though Panamá is a very secular country, religion is a vital part of the community life.  So, for the Catholic parents and children, the celebration started off with a special Mass at the church at 9 am.

Dr. Felix Antonio Lara as a young man.

 This was a memorial Mass for Dr. Felix Antonio Lara, a distinguished educator in Chiriquí and for whom the Potrerillos school is named.  June 3rd this year was the 100th anniversary of his birth.

I just took a few clips from the Mass itself, more to show what the community looks like than anything else.  Our priest is a young Franciscan.  The Franciscans are very prominent in Chiriquí, which suits me just fine, since I'm quite Franciscan in my attitudes.

Just some things to look for:  the first clip is before the Mass started, just to show the community adn the inside of the church.  The school children are all wearing uniforms.  White shirts are for grades K through 6, while the blue shirts are worn by grades 7 through 9.  Pants and skirts are dark blue.  Uniforms like this are universal in the province; every school kid wears one.

I panned the front of the church to give you an idea of what it looks like.

The older woman reading the first Scriptural reading is Maritza Espinosa's aunt.  She and her husband are very active in the congregation, as is Maritza herself.  

The priest is reading the Gospel.

Finally, just showing the communion line, for more visuals of the congregation.  You'll see a Ngobe Buglé woman in traditional dress.  She's wearing one which is aquamarine with brown and white decorative "bands"; she's sitting towards the front of the congregation.  

I got the biggest kick out of watching one of the 8th graders, I think, telling off either a sibling or a school chum towards the end of the last clip.  Her facial expression is just classic.


Something that the priest said during his homily, which emphasized the value of education, intrigued me. He remarked that at least teachers in Panamá were more or less well-paid, but that was not true in most of Central America. He specifically mentioned Guatemala and Honduras where, he said, many classes were held outdoors in the forested area due to lack of schools. He also said--and given the currency units, he had to be talking about Guatemala, not Honduras--that teachers were paid the equivalent of $20/month.


I'm still processing and editing stills and videos, but I should have at least one video up tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Joyce: I have to THANK YOU for all this wonderfull videos of mi pueblo. My name is Gloria Plumley and I'm from Potrerillos, actually I live in Utah with my Husband and our 3 year old son.Is very emocional for my to see some news about my town< I know is a small town and no to much to do but is a nice place to live and relax.We went there last march in our next visit I'll love to meet you.

Joyce said...

Hola, Gloria,

Please let me know when you're going to visit and I will be delighted to meet with you at that time. Perhaps you and your family can come over for coffee.

I am so happy that you enjoyed the videos. I certainly loved the program and have gotten a tremendous satisfaction on showing everyone this small pueblo.