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An outstanding feature of the program is orientation to and engagement with the social, economic and political dimensions of life in Panama, including the country’s complex relationship with the USA. Thus, in addition to offering experience in grassroots pastoral ministry, the program explores the dynamics of colonialism and imperialism between North America and Latin America. The program has proven invaluable to students interested in Hispanic ministries.
For over 25 years CDSP has had a partnership with the Diocese of Panama to work with them on a variety of projects. This Panama Project was established in 1986 by the Rev. Dr. John Kater. Professor Emeritus, and Dr. Walter E. Smith (Education and Vocational Development Officer in the Diocese of Panama, and honorary degree recipient from CDSP, May 2012).
Housing is at the Diocesan Center in Panama City and with local families. While proficiency in Spanish is not required, it is a valuable resource and preference will be given to Spanish-speaking applicants. The Panama Project is open to Episcopal seminarians who have completed at least one full year of seminary study before attending the program. Past experience indicates that participants who are able to approach the Project with an attitude of openness and willingness to learn rather than teach will benefit most. Selection will be based on experience, expectations and language proficiency.
The Diocese of Panama gives seminarians a warm welcome and invites them to experience the life of this diverse and exciting part of the Anglican Communion. Life in Panama can be challenging, and participants should be prepared for tropical heat and Panama’s rainy season, lots of walking and perhaps some physical labor. Field work assignments are often in areas of the country without running water and where travel conditions may be rigorous.