His Excellency Mr. Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez:
When last year, on the same date, the Cross of World Youth Day and the icon of the Virgin Mary with the Child delivered by St. John Paul II visited our island, the hearts of hundreds of young people who, throughout Cuba, came out meeting the pilgrim signs, filled with enthusiasm. They allowed disciples from all over to gather, who threw themselves through streets and avenues to proclaim the apostolate they received from the living gospel. They were received in parishes, communities, religious institutions… connecting the different areas of the country with the message of love, brotherhood and hope to which the world meeting of Catholic youth convenes.
Far from thinking then, that the Government of Panama, its clergy and so many other friends of the Cuban nation would join wills and prayer to make possible a dream that today materializes: that of uniting our voices to those of thousands of young people who, like us, try to live faith and commitment to the Church in the most varied contexts.
It is a challenge for young Cubans in particular. For never did our country have such a large participation in an important ecclesial and global event. More than 400 young people will have the possibility to contrast the peculiarities of their faith and culture in a rich and plural space. It is an excellent opportunity then to enliven our pastoral and vocational projects, which must surely be reversed into sweet fruits for our parishes and communities.
One word sums up our feelings: GRATITUDE. Gratitude for the trust that the Cuban Church has placed in us; gratitude for Pope Francis, who since April encouraged us to trust and propagate the love of the Risen Christ; gratitude for Mr. Ambassador of Panama and his team; gratitude for our Archbishop John of Charity, who encourages us with the beautiful witness that is his own life; gratitude for Father Jorge Luis Pérez Soto, who does not tire of betting on young people and their projects.
Dear young people, it is time to dream, to renew our dialogue with Catholics of all nations, to be bearers of the longings of a country, to represent young people who will not be able to participate in the experience. LET’s MAKE IT COUNT!!!!
Mr. Juan Carlos Varela, on behalf of the Cuban delegation, of the young Catholics throughout the country, of our Church, we ask you to accept, as a sign of gratitude, the image of our Mother, Mary of Charity of Copper, Patron of the Cuban people, who have accompanied the missionary work of young people in recent times. Cachita, as simple believers affectionately call it, is a gift from God to Cuba. She expresses the culture, strength, virtues of the national community. She accompanies the prayers of the homeland, points the way to Jesus and the commitment to those who suffer the most.
May our Lady of Charity welcome the peoples of Cuba and Panama under her protective cloak. May God bless our nations. Thank you.