At El Paso church, people pray day and night for pope in Mexico

IMAGE: CNS/Nancy Wiechec

By Nancy Wiechec

PASO, Texas (CNS) — In Segundo Barrio, people having been praying day and
night for Pope Francis since he set foot in Mexico.

were set in front of a figure of the pope in the courtyard of the barrio’s
Sacred Heart Church. An image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in tile on a red brick
wall peered over the shoulder of his cardboard likeness.

day since the pope arrived in Mexico, in the morning and evening, we pray the
rosary for his intentions — for mercy, peace and for his protection,”
said Raquel Garay Williams, a member of the parish council. “Our hope is
that the Lord answers our prayers.”

was among dozens of parishioners stopping to pray at the temporary shrine Feb.
14, three days before the pope was to end his six-day Mexican visit in Ciudad
Juarez, the Mexican community on the border and El Paso’s sister city.

of the pope with words of welcome appeared on walls in and around Sacred Heart
Church and the Segundo neighborhood.

culturally vibrant parish, Sacred Heart’s roots stretch back nearly 125 years. It
is located blocks from one of El Paso’s busy border crossings. Jesuit-founded
and run, the parish serves people in the barrio as well as immigrants and people
passing through.

are held in Spanish or in English and Spanish. With its sacramental and
catechetical ministries, the parish offers English classes and courses in computer
literacy and citizenship. From its parish hall, it runs a restaurant and
catering business that employs people and offers low-cost meals.

Flores, who was born in Mexico but was brought to the U.S. as an infant, has
called Segundo Barrio home for quite some time. He stopped in Sacred Heart’s
courtyard to kneel and offer a short prayer. He carried the parish bulletin
featuring Pope Francis on the front.

needs peace for its people,” he said. “Now, with the pope (there),
people may find that peace in their heart — to live a new life with Jesus
centered in their heart.”

visiting the makeshift shrine was the Macias family.

Olivia and Rose Macias stood in front of the cardboard pope and smiled brightly
as their dad clicked a cellphone photo.

is as close as most will get to the pope himself, but that had not dampened
their excitement for his visit to the border area.

a really good man,” Flor, 10, said of Pope Francis. “He tells good
things to the world.”

Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops, has asked U.S. Catholics to “unite in prayer with our
sisters and brothers in Mexico — especially those most in need of mercy and
hope, those suffering most in poverty and fear — and celebrate the great
blessing of the Holy Father’s journey to their great nation.”

archbishop will be with other Americans on the levee in El Paso when Pope
Francis celebrates Mass in Ciudad Juarez.

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