Under what could only be described as a heaven-sent, picture-perfect day, thousands of the faithful turned out at Juarez’s international airport to welcome Pope Francis to the Pass of the North.
About 5,000 children, special needs adults and children, as well as local bishops were in attendance to receive Pope Francis at the Benito Juarez International Airport.
As the Pope’s descent drew nearer, the anticipation was palpable. A symphony played a melodramatically, and the beat of the drums and the pace of the violins was enough to get quicken the pulse.
Dalia Villegas, a mother with a young women’s group said she was excited and pleased to be part of a once in lifetime event.
“We are part of a movement to get young women involved to speak and spread the word of God,”Villegas said. “We have 17 girls from our group here and they are so excited to be here.” The selection of the 17 girls was done through seeing which students put the most effort forward, and who were considered leaders in the organization.
“We were here since 5 a.m.,” Villegas said
As the attendees waited they waived white handkerchiefs decorated with his image. Then, as AeroMexico made it’s descent the cheers grew louder – and then a temporary hush fell over the crowd – but not for long. The music began once more as the AeroMexico Boeing 787 drew closer to the ground.
As the crowd cheered, the group of selected bishops from Juarez, El Paso and Las Cruces gathered at the tar mat, and waited patiently. A group of 8 children followed them, ready to present him with flowers.
Then – the moment of truth – AeroMexico touched down, the crowd roared, “Se ve, se sente, Francisco esta presente.” (It can be seen, it can be felt, Pope Francis is present.)
After what seemed like hours, or about 15 minutes, the Pope’s plane stopped and the hatch door opened – and Pope Francis smiled and waved at the crowd. Thousands cheered and began to chant. The song, “Francisco Es,”filled the air.
Once off the plane, the pontiff greeted the bishops – and received a key to the city from the Mayor of Juarez, Javier Gonzalez Mocken. The Governor, Cesar Horacio Duarte Jaquez, also greeted him.
One by one, the pontiff shook hands and hugged the bishops and the children who presented him with the flowers. As he made his way to his vehicle, the crowd cheered and chanted. He entered, and waved and smiled, but did not get to far before getting off of the mobile when a disabled woman and her father caught his eye.
And the Pontiff, asked his driver to stop, so he could bless them both before he made his way to Cereso Prison.
Jesus Ablerto Gonzalez, said it caught him by suprise when the Pope came forward to bless his daughter. His wife, Rica Ruiz Gonzalez said she felt blessed.
“He didn’t speak or say anything, he just blessed her,” Ruiz Gonzalez said, her face stained with tears of joy.
Their daughter, also named Rica, is 21 and had a disability that made it difficult for her to walk or speak. “But with a lot of work we’ve been able to get her to walk today,”Gonzalez said of his daughter, his eyes watery from the blessing that took place just minutes before.
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