Panama city, Panama.- A rhythm of La guantanamera and other Cuban traditional songs were heard from the Cuban delegation present at the World Youth Day (WYD) Catholic session here.

The delegation, made up of about 500 pilgrims, the largest number attending this ecclesial meeting since the first one in 1984, expressed its gratitude for the Panamanian people’s warm welcome, including the figure of its president, Juan Carlos Varela, who welcomed the advance at the Tocumen international airport.

One of the young people, referring to the expectations of this meeting, assured they hope to send a message of joy and hope allowing them to transform themselves and to continue living the faith with all the pilgrims present, besides being a new experience for each one of them.

Another expressed his gratitude to Cuba´s priests and different religious communities who made it possible for them to participate in this activity, the most important of Catholic youth worldwide, and meeting with Pope Francis, who arrives this Wednesday afternoon on Panamanian territory.

‘The emotions are infinite, the Cuban youth bring many expectations, which we will later transmit to our Cuban people, to the family, to the Christian community and to the young people who could not be here’, Carlos said.

For her part, Rosario Vazquez considered her participation in the activities prior to WYD to be marvelous and highlighted the fact that she is part of the Cuban largest delegation to attend the entire history of these meetings.

‘We hope it will be a faith-filled and experiential journey’, she said, while assuring she was filled with great emotion for living and feeling very close to this event.

The Cuban delegation is made up of parishioners from Havana, Villa Clara, Camagüey, Santiago de Cuba, Las Tunas and Granma, among other provinces, who are housed in the Las Esclavas religious school in the Panamanian capital.

These young people will have the opportunity to see His Holiness very closely, since the reception center is located close to the Apostolic Nunciature, ‘the house’ of Francis in Panama.

To date, more than 100,000 pilgrims from 156 countries and 480 bishops have registered for WYD, of whom almost 50 percent have already arrived.