CD.JUAREZ, MEXICO – In anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit to Cd. Juárez, one group of young adults hopes to prepare the city’s youth spiritually before the pontiff’s arrival.
The group, “Juárez con Francisco,” comprises of about 30 young adults from various parishes of the Juárez Diocese. Through the use of Facebook and Instagram the group spreads the news of their upcoming activities and their actions.
Their goal – bring the Juárez youth and the city of Juárez closer to the Catholic Church.
On Saturday, during the Catholic Church’s Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the group began their journey toward their goal by dressing up as superheroes and visiting sick children and their families at the General Hospital in the 35th zone, located at Valentín Fuentes Avenue.
“We want to prepare the city for the Pope’s arrival,” said Jesus Delmar, 22. Delmar is a member of Juárez con Francisco “We want to do a lot of activities with the Juárez youth, to awaken their interest to live by their actions and not their words alone. We want to leave an impression in the city.”
The visit to the hospital is just one of several activities the group will complete prior to the Holy Father’s visit. Other activities that will follow will include giving food to the hungry and visiting the oppressed.
Juárez con Francisco will be presenting the results of their work to the Bishop of Juárez, Jose Guadalupe Torres Campos, in the hopes that they will be invited to see the Pope.
While being able to see the Pontiff and attend his mass would be a great honor – members of the Juárez con Francisco stressed that their actions are mainly to increase awareness and interest in the Catholic Church.
“Our objective is first to invite everyone we can – the youth, the disabled and all those that really need it – to come and listen to God’s message in the Gospel,” said 16-year-old Verónica Ibáñez Rubio. “We are trying to live by Christ’s example so that those that don’t know him yet will know him, so that when the Pope arrives, they aren’t vain and simply think that ‘just a man’ came into Juárez. We are also trying to prepare ourselves spiritually and bring as many as we can closer to the church.”
During their visit at the hospital, the group told a modernized tale of the prodigal son with puppets, and led the children in fun-filled spiritual songs. In addition, members provided face paintings to the young patients and a piñata.
Daniela Reyes, 10, smiled and laughed as members of Juárez con Francisco sang and joked with the children.
“Está muy padre,” I think it’s really cool. Reyes said in Spanish when asked of the group’s visit.
Then 10-year-old was admitted into the hospital last week after her family noticed her left arm was swollen, said Reyes’ aunt Madel Rosario Blanco.
Blanco added that the visit from Juárez con Francisco was welcomed. “It gives her a chance to have a bit of fun.” Blanco said.
While the group led the patients and their families in sing along, 2-year-old Tiffany Cordero Ramirez showed her mother, Daisy Ramirez, how well she could blow on a party favor whistle.
“I’m really glad the nurses told us to come out here and brought the children out,” she said. “I mean it gives those of us (patients and parents) a chance to get out and have a bit of fun, instead of being enclosed in the hospital.”
As the group joked and spoke with patients, several of them asked the patients what eternal love and forgiveness meant to them. The interviews were filmed and will be available in the coming days in the group’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
“With this being the year of mercy for the Catholic Church – we wanted to ask the kids what they thought the meaning of love and forgiveness is to them.” Delmar said. “It is in kind with the Pope’s message of forgiveness and love.”
The El Paso and Juárez Dioceses released Pope Francis’ itinerary for his visit on Feb. 17 on their websites. According to the Juárez and El Paso Diocese, the pontiff will arrive in Juárez at 10:30 a.m., on Feb. 17. A 2-hour mass is scheduled for 4 p.m. at El Punto, which is near Benito Juárez Stadium.
Admission to the Mass is free, but attendees must have a ticket to enter. About 220,000 tickets for the mass will be distributed by the Diocese of Juárez to their various parishes according to the Dioceses of Juárez’s website. Officials with the El Paso Diocese stated on their website that tickets will also be made available to parishes in the El Paso, however the details of how these tickets will be distributed is still unknown.
“The city of Juárez has garnered a bad reputation and a bad name and we want to change that,” Delmar said. “And we want to do that with the help of all those that are willing to assist us.”
For more information on Juárez con Francisco visit their website at http://www.juarezconfrancisco.com/ or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Author/Photographer: Alexandra Hinojosa