The Catholic Church was one of the earliest built in Gamboa. Architecturally it was the largest and arguably the most eloquently designed. Most ‘Gyambo’ residents were descents of Caribbean cultural and religious heritage and therefore worshiped in several local protestant churches in the section of town called ‘Church Square (St. Simon’s Episcopalian Church, Mr. Jarvis’ Christian Mission Sunday School (conducted under building # 330 ), The Baptist Church, and Seventh Day Adventist Church). However, while relatively small, ‘Gyambo’ Catholics attended ‘Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church’ along with fellow Catholics from ‘up the hill’…the U.S. rate, so called ‘White’ side of ‘Gyambo’. While all Church Square churches welcomed congregants from all races, cultures and ethnicities, ‘Our Lady of Good Counsel’ was the one that experienced some constancy of ‘racial integration’ on days of worship. On Sunday mornings the Catholic Church bell would resonate clearly and gloriously calling all to service. It was a curiosity to most of ‘Gyambo’ residents to see white/U.S. rate residents’ descent from the ‘hills’ in their cars, while black/Local rate residents walk from their quarters to the Catholic Church to take Holy Communion (it was common knowledge that ‘Whites’ sat in a separate section of the church and also took the rites of ‘Holy Communion separately from ‘local rate’ church worshipers; particularly in the 1950 to mid-1960’s) . The curiosity of this uniquely ‘mixed’ church community was heightened, of course, by the constant physical, social, political, and economic symbolic and actual racial divisions of life in the Canal Zone. Nevertheless, this was the reality that dominated our everyday existential consciousness. We all knew that whatever church service we attended on Sunday, however ‘integrated’, we all would return to ‘normalcy’ on Monday mornings… where ‘Gold and Silver divided the human race’.
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