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Home | Tag Archives: popeinjuarez

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Faith Leaders Stand with Pope Francis at the Border; Mass, Rosary set for Tuesday

A coalition of faith leaders, immigrants, and workers will gather in prayer on Tuesday evening to welcome Pope Francis to the border. The pope will be visiting Juarez on Wednesday and is expected to walk to the border fence and give a blessing to both the El Paso and Juarez sides of the border in solidarity with immigrants.

“The Church has always been a place where the excluded can find refuge. We know that Pope Francis’s visit to the border will help give a face to the suffering of immigrants, and we’re happy to welcome him and stand with him in solidarity,” said Sara Benitez, Latino Outreach Director at Faith in Public Life.

The Mass will be followed by a rosary event centered on the stories of immigrants.  Rosary will led by Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. Pimentel met Pope Francis during his visit in September, and was recognized by him during the ABC 20/20 Papal Virtual Audience for her response to vast numbers of women and child refugees on the Texas border in 2014.

She will be on the border Feb. 17th as a “Francis VIP” when the Pope gives a blessing for immigrants after mass in Juarez.

The event is organized by Sara Benitez, Latino outreach director at Faith in Public Life, where she works with Latino clergy and lay leaders of all faith traditions on civic engagement and immigration reform advocacy.

WHAT Pope Francis welcome rosary

WHEN Tues. Feb 16th — Mass 5:00pm ; Rosary 5:30pm

WHERE Sacred Heart Church, 602 S Oregon St, El Paso, TX 79901

WHO Faith leaders, immigrants, workers

Pope Francis: Journey to Paso del Norte – Preparations and Perspectives

It’s 6 p.m. and the sunlight is diminishing by the minute behind the mountains that overlook Guillen Middle School in South Central El Paso.

While school is out, there are dozens of cars crowding into the school’s parking lot, and many more overflowing into surrounding lots and any free space in the neighborhood adjacent to the school’s football field.

Upon exiting the vehicles, the occupants are not dressed in athletic gear, nor are they uniform in age or height – but they did come equipped with a similar goal – master 20 dances of prayer for their upcoming performance at the Sun Bowl.

More than 350 Matachines from local parish groups came suited with their drums, comfortable shoes, guajes, or dance rattles, and wooden prop arrows to practice for the evening.

“We are having a bit of trouble…but that’s just like everything else,” said Sylvia Perez, Coordinator the Matachines of St. Mark’s Catholic Church. “But I think everything will turn out fine.”

Beatriz Caballero, assistant coordinator for the Matachines, said they received the news that they were to perform at the Sun Bowl’s event, “Two Nations, One Faith,” two weeks ago. In that time, organizers were able to gather more than 350 dancers, schedule 20 dances, and schedule daily practices at the church and other venues. Practices last 2 to 3 hours.

“I have so many conflicting feelings right now,” Caballero said. “I am nervous and worried. (I hope) our dances turn out well for the Virgin Mary, the Holy Father and the Pope. It is a lot of responsibility for all of us to get together and unite. You have different characters and personalities – but we are working together and preserving.”

In an effort to stay organized during practices, coordinators use a large karaoke machine to broadcast their announcements. But once the drummers begin to beat on their instruments, it’s nearly impossible to hear anything else.

With this in mind, the dancers are divided into two lines and must dance in place. Instructions are visual and are accomplished through the use of a large flag that is waved to cue the dancers. Coordinators also communicate to the dancers by running up and down the field and yelling out instructions as best they can.

Dancers and drummers on their part must do their best to watch and listen as the evening wears on and their sight becomes limited.

With only a few dim stadium lights, dancers look to one another for guidance.

Beita Acosta, 9, a student at Purple Heart Elementary School, looked at the dancers around her and watched out for any coordinators that might run shouting out instructions. As she does so she stomps her feet on the ground – not missing a beat. Acosta said she joined the Matachines about six months ago and said she wasn’t sure how she felt about the upcoming performance.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” she said while fidgeting. “It’s cool because my mom came yesterday and she saw all the people lined up and she loved it. She showed me the video and it looked nice.”

When asked if she was nervous – Acosta exclaimed, “Yes I am nervous.”

The large group will have one more rehearsal on Tuesday, the day before the live broadcast before their performance at the Two Nations One Faith event at the Sun Bowl. The event is a celebration of Pope Francis visit to the sister city of Juarez at the Sun Bowl Stadium.

The celebration, set to begin at 1:30 p.m., will include a livestream simulcast of the Mass at El Punto, or what is knows as the festival grounds in Juarez, at 4 p.m.

In addition, country music artists Collin Raye and World Youth Day guitarist Tony Melendez will perform live, according to the Catholic Diocese of El Paso’s website.

Other performances will include a ceremonial dance by the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tigua Indian school; music by the El Paso Diocesan Choir; and Mariachis. The Matachines are expected to perform between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and when the Papal Mass is complete.


Across the border at El Punto, where the Papal Mass will be held, 32-year-old Juan Sanchez  unloads audio and production equipment from a large semi-truck with the help of his colleagues.

On Saturday, audio and video production crews were readying the screens that would broadcast the mass, and rigging the motors, Sanchez said. All this in preparation for the Pope’s Papal Mass, scheduled for 4 p.m., on Wednesday.

IMG_1099“This is just a ‘typical’ day for me,” he jokes. “Just collecting and gathering equipment and getting the screens ready. Just a normal day.”

Sanchez has been working on various tasks relating to the altar, rigging, audio and production for the past two months.

“I’m actually a freelance contractor for productions,” Sanchez added. “And I typically work on audio for the city and the courts. But we were asked to do this – and absolutely. We should be ready by Sunday.”

The construction of the altar, by the company Soyo Contrucciones began on Dec. 28, 2015, according to the Juarez Diocese. On Saturday, as construction crews worked tirelessly to place the finishing touches to the area, several locals tried get a peek and enter the site through the gate at Heroica Colegio Militar Avenue and Costa Rica Street.

Police blocked the entrance and explained that only workers could go through. When turned away – locals drove further down, and parked their cars along the roadway  for a brief moment to get a glimpse of refurbished Juarez Fairgrounds.

The fairgrounds aren’t the only sites that have been refurbished – along the Avenida Tecnologico, or the papal route, the streets have been cleaned and painted.

Billboards with the Pope’s image and his message line the streets along the route and businesses along the route sport banners withIMG_1094 his image as well. Along the way, he will make a stop and have lunch at the Seminario Conciliar, (the seminary).

Jesus Caldera, 34, said he is among a group of seminarians that will be having lunch with the pope on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be such a great joy to have him so close and to converse with him,” Caldera said. “I really don’t have any questions for him. I just want to listen to him. But if I could say one thing to him, I’d ask hi to keep us in his prayers. This city needs a lot of prayers – it was damaged and hurt by the violence and the insecurity that came with it.”

Caldera said that while the physical refurbishment of the city is one step in the right direction in preparation for the pontiff’s visit – more should be done.

Seminarian Jesus Caldera, 34, said he looks forward to having lunch with Pope Francis on Wednesday.
Seminarian Jesus Caldera, 34, said he looks forward to having lunch with Pope Francis on Wednesday.

“Everyone needs to get out of our comfort zones and seek out those in need,” Caldera said. “He (the pope) is asking us to reach out.”

Caldera, who is in his last year of study at the seminary, said he’s been mediating and studying the teachings of the catechist while reflecting on the message of mercy that the pope has instructed everyone to follow.

“It’s a spiritual preparation that includes prayer and invites us to look within ourselves to reinvent ourselves,” Caldera said. “And it’s not something that will happen overnight or just in one day – it’s a calling for us to be better in our daily lives so we can continue to carry out the Pope’s message of peace, mercy and love.”

 Breaking the Fourth Wall: A reporter’s perspective

As I prepared to cross into Juarez on Saturday morning with Andres Acosta – I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure, we had an overall idea of our task at hand – familiarize yourself with the Papal route – but that was it.

Upon crossing we hired a taxi to take us to El Punto, the site of the Papal Mass, and our cab driver immediately assumed we were tourists and jumped at the opportunity to take us to the site.

I later explained to him that we were in fact journalists from El Paso that wanted to take the entire route – with stops along the way. I IMG_1081expected hesitation from his part but to my surprise he agreed.

During our drive, which lasted about 2-hours, with stops and interviews along the way, he pointed out restaurants to us and gave us a plethora of information ranging from street names, Juarez history, his faith and his experiences during the drug wars which plagued the city with violence and death.

While I recorded our conversation, for the purposes of remembering street names, I didn’t catch his name – I know, I know – that’s reporting 101. (I can just hear my mentors groaning at this).

But after hearing his stories of the drug wars – I didn’t want to get his name. It was strange – even though I had only known this cabbie for two hours it felt wrong to ask his name, and perhaps it was my conscience or the uncertainty about how long the diminished state of violence will last that kept me from blurting out – “Y tu nombre?” (Your name?) and “Como se deletrea?” (How do you spell it?).

While the organization Seguridad Justicia y Paz, or The Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice AC, has recently removed Juarez from the list of the most dangerous cities, a travel warning by the U.S. Department of State recommends U.S. citizens traveling into Mexico to use caution while in Chihuahua.

So, taking all that into consideration – I refrained from asking him to identify himself. That being said, at the start of our drive our cabbie said he was Catholic and would be among the thousands at the Papal Mass.

“I got the tickets from my church,” he said. “And the funny thing is- I stopped going to church a while ago – because you know it’s long, and then you have the kids that don’t know how to behave, and sometimes you fall asleep…”

“But then you heard about the tickets and the Pope’s visit and suddenly your going to Mass as a dedicated member,” I suggested jokingly.

“Well of course,” he said laughing.

After our visit to El Punto, he travels to the International Airport where the Pope will be arriving and departing. Our cabbie knows the route by heart and tells us when and where and at what time the Pope will arrive at each site.

“You see along here there will be a human chain – they say 80,000 people but I suspect that there will be more than 1 million in town,” he said as we travel down the Eje. Vial de Juan Gabriel toward the airport.

We continue on Juan Gabriel and turn left at the Calle Baranco Azul intersection.

“And there to your right behind you is the prison,” He points. “There all manner of violent and nonviolent criminals are there.” He keeps driving and doesn’t offer to stop at the prison.

We continue driving down the Calle Baranco until he reaches the Avenida Tecnologico, and situated at the end of the intersection is the airport.
He makes a left onto the Avenida Tecnologico – where billboards welcoming the pope are plentiful, and so are the restaurants.

Our cabbie starts to talk about El Bronco, and begins to give us mouth-watering details about how they prepare their burritos – clearly it’s close to lunchtime.

As we make our way toward the seminary, on Bulevar Manuel Gomez Morin, he starts to talk about the cartels and the violence that plagued the city for so many years.

“You know it’s not that they would seek out regular folks to kill or shoot them their fights were amongst each other not everyone else,” he said. “If there were vendors out on the street they were warned or told not to show up to work the next day – but people have to work and make a living so they might ignore the warning. In one day there were 38 killed – it was a massacre. Some were left without limbs, others were decapitated…just a tragedy.”

Because he’s very candid about the violence I get the sense that perhaps he feels safer, and if that’s the case, then maybe the city is safer. I ask him if that’s how he feels and he says yes, without hesitation.

“It’s very calm now. I mean there are a lot of new businesses popping up – and people that left and abandoned their homes because of the violence are coming back now,” he said. “It was such a destructive time, but now it’s calm now, and I think the Pope’s coming here speaks to that.”

Pope Francis: Journey to Paso del Norte – A visual preview

In a little less than 72 hours, Pope Francis will make history with a visit to Juarez and the Border. Ahead of his visit, the City of Juarez has done more than put out the welcome mat.

With streets cleaned, entire blocks of the city repainted and a new altar completed in record time, residents have gone all out to make our Sister City shine.  Ahead of the Papal Visit, Reporter Alexandra Hinojosa and Photojournalist Andres Acosta went to Juarez to check out the preparations and talk with residents.

On the day of Pope Francis’ visit, you can follow along by following our crew on Twitter: Alex (@AlxHinojosa), Andres (@ag4Images) both with up-to-the-minute reporting from Juarez and  Lolie Aguirre with her reporting direct from the Sun Bowl.  And we’ll have the overview of the entire region on our facebook page and twitter feed (@epheraldpost)

For now, enjoy the photos of all the various types of greetings Juarez has in place for Pope Francis.

IMG_1045 IMG_1075 IMG_1084 IMG_1088 IMG_1094 IMG_1089 IMG_1048 IMG_1054 IMG_1086 IMG_1072 IMG_1081 IMG_1073 IMG_1087 IMG_1098 IMG_1100 IMG_1049 IMG_1097

Pope Francis Merchandise on sale at Cielo Vista Mall; Command Center for Tickets Extends Hours

T-shirts, rosaries and other merchandise sold by the Diocese of El Paso for Pope Francis’ trip to the Borderland will have a special retail kiosk at Cielo Vista Mall.

The kiosk will be open during regular mall hours starting Sat. Feb. 13 through Tues., Feb. 16.

“We’ve had a huge demand for El Pasoans to show their love of Pope Francis and their support of the ‘Two Nations, One Faith’ event held at the Sun Bowl,” said Bishop Mark Seitz. “We understand that many of the rosaries sold are the very rosaries people plan to take to the stadium to have blessed when Pope Francis gives his blessing to attendees.”

T-shirts are $10, rosaries vary in price and can be purchased at Cielo Vista Mall as well as at the Pastoral Center’s Command Center which is located at 499 St. Matthews St.

Additionally, the Command Center has extended its hours to sell tickets as well as provide information on the “Two Nations, One Faith” event. The Command Center will be open Sat. from 9am-5pm and Sun. from 12pm-5pm.

Taos artist creates ratablo in honor of Pope Francis

Pope Francis saw a baroque painting of Our Lady Undoer of Knots while studying in Germany in the 1980s. He liked the symbolism of Our Lady. She is undoing the knots of our confusions and the knotted errors of our ways and sins bringing us closer through her motherly kindness to unity with God. He brought a post card of the image back to Argentina promoting her veneration.

Taos artist Lynn Garlick  created a small retablo of Our Lady in the Fall of 2015 and wanted to make a much bigger piece. Pope Francis has now inspired that.

“I got very excited when David Villanueva, from Galleria Zia, asked me to bring some originals with me as well as my production pieces to the El Paso airport for sale while the Pope was visiting Juarez,” Lynn said. “This was the perfect opportunity to create the larger retablo. It is my way of honoring, His Holiness, Pope Francis.”

Lynn will showcase her retablos at Galeria Zia on Feb. 16th at the El Paso International Airport at 11am. All proceeds from the sale of the retablos will go to a local non-profit in honor of Pope Francis.

“I am so excited to be in the same vicinity as Pope Francis, a pope I greatly admire for his compassionate heart and his focus to be of service to mankind. He is an inspiring example of a life well lived. Though I will not see him in Juarez, I feel blessed to be this close to him.”

DSC_0363 DSC_0334 DSC_0325taosPope DSC_0406

Discounted ‘Two Nations, One Faith’ Tickets in Honor of Ash Wednesday Available

The Diocese of El Paso is excited to announce that in honor of Ash Wednesday, donors have come forward to offer discounted tickets for those who want to attend the “Two Nations, One Faith” event at the Sun Bowl on February 17, 2016 and receive a direct blessing from Pope Francis.

Beginning this Wednesday morning February 11, 2016 through Wednesday evening tickets to the “Two Nations, One Faith” event will be available for $5, more half of the original price ($3 service fee still included). No code will be needed, the Box Office will offer this rate to all purchasers from Wednesday morning until Friday February 12, 2016.

“We are truly thankful for this generous gift on one of the most important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. And we thank these donors for recognizing that this gift will enable many with limited means to enjoy this historic holy event,” said The Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso.

Through a live stream simulcast, Pope Francis will be able to fully view the Sun Bowl event as he formally blesses the thousands of attendees inside the stadium.

In addition to Pope Francis’ blessing, the “Two Nations One Faith” Sun Bowl event will feature multi-platinum country music artist Collin Raye and World Youth Day guitarist Tony Melendez. In addition to Mr. Raye and Mr. Melendez, other scheduled performances will represent the diversity and culture of these communities.

The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tigua Indian School will help open the musical program by performing a sacred ceremonial prayer dance, and the El Paso Diocesan Choir, composed of 120 musicians and singers, will reflect the bicultural reality of the borderland and invite the crowd into sacred song. El Paso-based youth choir Elohim, and local parish-based Mariachi and Matachines dance groups will also showcase the cultural heritage of the border region.

Sun Bowl Stadium Stage, Wednesday February 17, 2016

Final performance order to be announced, doors and performances begin at 12:00PM MT

Collin Raye & Andrea Thomas

Tony Melendez

El Paso Diocesan Choir

The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tigua Indian Nation Social Dancers

Because of the high volume of visitors, the expected road closures and the desire to create an event representative of the El Paso and Juarez cultures, the “Two Nations, One Faith” event is designed to have entertainment for the whole family, games and a kid zone for children, and programming that includes testimonies and stories of faith to lead up to the live simulcast of the Juarez Mass and Blessing.

To Purchase Tickets before the event sells out, please visit:

To help offset costs related to this special event, ticket prices will be a special rate of $5 plus a $3 university service fee, and other applicable service fees, which may increase total cost.

For all local El Paso individuals and parish ticket orders, please purchase tickets from the University Ticket Center or call (915) 747-5234 for ticket purchases and inquiries. For all out of El Paso area individuals or groups, please visit Ticketmaster for ticket purchases or inquiries.

There is a $3 university service fee to purchase tickets through the University Ticket Center. The fees associated with ticket purchases through Ticketmaster will vary. We strongly encourage all El Paso residents to purchase your tickets through the University Ticket Center.

Throughout the program the Pope’s journey through Juarez will be live-streamed on the Sun Bowl Stadium Jumbotron. On-stage program will conclude prior to the telecast of the papal Mass.

El Paso Parishioners Prepare Spiritual Bouquet for Pope Francis

As Pope Francis’ visit to Ciudad Juárez nears, the Catholic Diocese of El Paso and its parishioners are preparing a spiritual bouquet to present to the pontiff.

The pope will be visiting Ciudad Juárez on Feb. 17 – his final stop during his visit to Mexico, which is set to begin on Feb. 12 in Mexico City according to the Juárez Dioceses. Prior to his visit to Juárez the pope will be in Ecatepec, Mexico on Feb. 14, then onto Tuxtla Guiterrez, San Cristobal de las Casas on Feb. 15 and finally Morelia on Feb. 16 before arriving to Juarez on Feb. 17.

It is not known when the spiritual bouquet will be presented to the pontiff during his visit to Juarez on Feb. 17.

The Catholic Diocese of El Paso has encouraged its parishes to display their Acts of Mercy on a Mercy Wall. At St. Mark's parish at 11700 Pebble Hills, the Mercy Wall displays more than 300 spiritual acts of mercy behind the altar.
The Catholic Diocese of El Paso has encouraged its parishes to display their Acts of Mercy on a Mercy Wall. At St. Mark’s parish at 11700 Pebble Hills, the Mercy Wall displays more than 300 spiritual acts of mercy behind the altar.

The spiritual bouquet, which consists of hundreds of decorative paper doves, which represent acts of mercy each parishioner has either done or promises to do during this year of Mercy for the Catholic Church.

Wednesday is the last day parishioners have to submit their acts of mercy to their parishes.

“The spiritual bouquet is a gift from the whole diocese for the Pope,” said Veronica Rayas, director of the office of religious formation for the diocese in an email response to the El Paso Herald Post.

“All parishes are working on it and we will get everything back from them in time to get the gift ready for the Bishop to present to the Pope in Juárez. Everyone is doing different acts of mercy as their offering. Then the parishes are making mercy walls where all their doves are shown. A heart punch is taken from each dove and then they (the heart punch) are collected to make up the gift.”

At St. Mark’s Catholic Church, 11700 Pebble Hills Dr., the spiritual doves float above the entrance to the church, with hundreds more surrounding the large crucifix at the alter. This large display of doves makes up the mercy wall for the church.

Monsignor Arturo Bañuelas said the bouquet was a physical representation of acts of mercy.

“He (the pope) doesn’t want to have more things. He doesn’t want gifts,” Bañuelas said. “But he does bring a spiritual renewal to the church. So, by doing acts of mercy the church is getting renewed. Each one (act of mercy) represents one person, an adult, a child, who has said this year they are going to do an

Close UP of Doves: Each one of these doves has a promise from a parishioner or an act of mercy written on it. A heart stamp from each of these doves will be collected by the Catholic Diocese of El Paso to create a spiritual bouquet to present to Pope Francis during his visit to Juarez on Feb. 17.
Each one of these doves has a promise from a parishioner or an act of mercy written on it. A heart stamp from each of these doves will be collected by the Catholic Diocese of El Paso to create a spiritual bouquet to present to Pope Francis during his visit to Juarez on Feb. 17.

act of mercy. And there are hundreds.”

The collection of the acts of mercy began around January, Bañuelas said.“And it just caught fire,” he said.


Bañuelas said the spiritual renewal of the church, through these act of mercy, isn’t meant to be a one-time event.

“Because if you do it once (an act of mercy), then you are likely to do it more than once because it taps into the goodness of your heart,” he said. “And once it taps into your goodness you want to keep doing good things.”

Bañuelas will be among several of the El Paso Diocese priests that will be at the Papal Mass in Juárez, scheduled for 4 p.m. at El Punto, located outside of the Benito Juárez Olympic Stadium.

The Pope’s full agenda, according to the El Paso and Juárez Dioceses for Feb. 17 is as follows:

 10 a.m., the pope will arrive at the Juárez International Airport.

 10:30 a.m., the pope will take a motorcade to visit inmates at the Cereso Prison.

 12 p.m., the pontiff will then meet with 3,600 business leaders and workers at the Colegío Bachilleres.

 After his visit the Pope will then take a lunch break at the Juárez Seminary and prepare for his Mass at 4 p.m.

 4 p.m. the Papal Mass will begin at the area known as El Punto, just outside of the Benito Juárez Olympic Stadium.

 6 p.m. arrive at the Juárez International Airport for departure to Rome.

If you’ve missed any of our coverage on the upcoming Papal visit, click to read Pope Francis: Journey to Paso del NorteWall2

EPISD’s closure for Pope’s visit changes basketball, soccer game times

EPISD has announced date changes to the athletic schedule during the week of the Papal visit.

The District will be forced to alter the schedule of several high- and middle-school athletic events because the District will be closed on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Additionally, several schools in the Bowie and Jefferson feeder patterns will have early dismissal on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

Schedule changes affect high school boys basketball, softball, soccer and girls middle school basketball.

Changes include:
• Basketball – the following boys varsity, junior varsity and ninth grade games will move from Tuesday, Feb. 16, to Monday, Feb. 15:
o Burges vs. Bowie
o El Paso vs. Jefferson
• Game times remain the same: Varsity and JV 7:15 p.m.; and freshman 5:45 p.m.

• Softball – the following varsity and junior varsity games will be moved from Tuesday, Feb. 16, to Monday, Feb. 15, at 4 p.m.
o Bowie vs. Fabens (varsity)
o Fabens vs. Bowie (JV)
o Jefferson vs. Coronado (varsity)
o Coronado vs. Jefferson (JV)

• Soccer – The following 5A boys varsity and junior varsity games have been moved from Wednesday, Feb. 16, to Monday, Feb. 15.
o Austin vs. Andress
o Bowie vs. Canutillo
o Irvin vs. Burges
o Chapin vs. Jefferson

• The following 5A girls varsity and junior varsity high school games have been moved from Tuesday, Feb. 16, to Monday, Feb. 15.
o Canutillo vs. Bowie
o Jefferson vs. Chapin

• Girl’s middle school basketball will be moved to Thursday, Feb. 18, from Wednesday, Feb. 17. Game times are 5:30 p.m. for seventh grade games. Eighth grade games will follow at approximately 7 p.m. or 15 minutes following the seventh grade game.

o Magoffin vs. Guillen
o Morehead vs. Hornedo
o Canyon Hills vs. Wiggs
o Lincoln vs. Ross
o Armendariz vs. Henderson
o Terrace Hills vs. Bassett
o Richardson vs. Charles
o Brown vs. MacArthur

County Offices, La Fe’s South El Paso Campus to close during Pope’s Visit

Officials with South El Paso’s Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe (La Fe) Campus announced late Monday they would be joining local ISD and governmental offices in closing during Pope Francis’ visit to Juarez.

In a release to the media, La Fe officials stated, “To ensure the safety and security of our patients, staff, and students during Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Ciudad Juárez, Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe (La Fe) will observe a one-day closure of its South El Paso Campus facilities on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.”

Additionally, El Paso County officials also decided to close on February 17th.  As posted on the county’s website, “El Paso County offices will be CLOSED on Wednesday, February 17th (the day of the Papal Visit) due to limited access to and from the El Paso County Courthouse and the potential for significant traffic congestion.”

La Fe Officials added that the closure will only affect the following Segundo Barrio facilities: the La Fe Central Clinic, 700 S. Ochoa; the La Fe Social Services Department, 618 S. St. Vrain; the La Fe Women’s Health Clinic, 700 S. Ochoa (Rear Building); the La Fe Child and Adolescent Wellness Center’s Medical Unit (721 S. Ochoa); the La Fe Child and Adolescent Wellness Center’s Culture and Technology Center , 721 S. Ochoa (Rear Building); and the La Fe Preparatory School, 616 E. Father Rahm.

All other La Fe facilities throughout El Paso County will observe their regular business hours and service on this date. All La Fe facilities will resume regular business hours and activity on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. All affected La Fe medical patients will have their appointments rescheduled.

For More Information, La Fe patients may contact the La Fe Central Clinic Switchboard from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at (915) 545-4550.

Pope Francis will bless the attendees of “Two Nations, One Faith” event at Sun Bowl

The Diocese of El Paso announced Monday afternoon that Pope Francis will bless the attendees at the “Two Nations, One Faith” event at the Sun Bowl on February 17, 2016, during this historic Mass on the border of Juarez and El Paso.

 Through a live stream simulcast, Pope Francis will be able to fully view the Sun Bowl event as he formally blesses the approximately 50,000 attendees inside the stadium.

 “We are thrilled to announce a Sun Bowl blessing from Pope Francis. What a unique opportunity for our residents and visitors to El Paso. Together, we will experience this incredible moment of faith that transcends borders and demonstrates to the world that we are one community, ‘Two Nations, One Faith,’” said The Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso

In addition to Pope Francis’ blessing, the “Two Nations One Faith” Sun Bowl event will feature multi-platinum country music artist Collin Raye and World Youth Day guitarist Tony Melendez. In addition to Mr. Raye and Mr. Melendez, other scheduled performances will represent the diversity and culture of these communities.

The Tigua Indian Nation Social Dancers will help open the musical program by performing a sacred ceremonial prayer dance, and the El Paso Diocesan Choir, composed of 120 musicians and singers, will reflect the bicultural reality of the borderland and invite the crowd into sacred song. El Paso-based youth choir Elohim, and local parish-based Mariachi and Matachines dance groups will also showcase the cultural heritage of the border region.

 Final performance order to be announced, doors and performances begin at 12:00PM MT

Because of the high volume of visitors, the expected road closures and the desire to create an event representative of the El Paso and Juarez cultures, the “Two Nations, One Faith” event is designed to have entertainment for the whole family, games and a kid zone for children, and programming that includes testimonies and stories of faith to lead up to the live simulcast of the Juarez Mass and Blessing.

Throughout the program the Pope’s journey through Juarez will be live-streamed on the Sun Bowl Stadium Jumbotron. On-stage program will conclude prior to the telecast of the papal Mass.

 To Purchase Tickets before the event sells out, please visit:

 To help offset costs related to this special event, ticket prices will be $15 plus a $3 university service fee, and other applicable service fees, which may increase total cost.

The fees associated with ticket purchases through Ticketmaster will vary. We strongly encourage all El Paso residents to purchase your tickets through the University Ticket Center.

For all local El Paso individuals and parish ticket orders, please purchase tickets from the University Ticket Center or call (915) 747-5234 for ticket purchases and inquiries. For all out of El Paso area individuals or groups, please visit Ticketmaster for ticket purchases or inquiries.

The Diocese of El Paso has benefactors available to cover the cost of the Sun Bowl for parishioners who find the discounted fee a challenge. Anyone who wants to attend the “Two Nations, One Faith” event can contact the Diocese of El Paso at 915-872-8400 for more information.

Click here to view our complete coverage of the Pope’s Visit

El Paso Police: Closure of Border Highway, banning pedestrians to ‘ensure safety’ of all during Pope’s Visit

The Papal visit to our community is a historic event. Due to our communities being sister cities, and the proximity of the event to El Paso, we have to take steps to insure the safety of everyone, including Pope Francis. Most importantly, the El Paso Police Department has met with the U.S. Secret Service from the onset on this plan.

The Secret Service is the federal safety coordinator for the event. The decision to close the area was reviewed by the Secret Service and accepted as an appropriate response, for safety of the community with the available personnel to handle the event. In addition TXDOT made it clear that they would not allow people on the Border Highway or on the overpasses.

In the event of an emergency, Border Highway has to be used for emergency personnel to respond. The closure of it ensures that the highway will remain available for the quick movement of first responders should an emergency arise in the area.

It is true that there are portions of the “jumbotrons” that can be seen from El Paso, and it may even be possible to catch a glance of the structure where the Pope will be, from the El Paso side. However, these spots are small and will not accommodate large masses. They present many dangers and jurisdictional challenges.

In Philadelphia, the viewing route was for several miles, and easily accommodated large groups. The total possible viewing areas in El Paso combined are less than a mile. The viewing spots are not capable of holding more than small groups at best.

Allowing persons to these areas would place those viewers at danger due to the natural and manmade barriers that are associated with a border; such as the river, highway, railroad, a canal, and the border fence. We also understand that with the excitement of this historic visit, an emotional response will lead the crowd forward, in an attempt for a closer view leading to the possibility of other viewers being trampled and seriously injured.

The most vulnerable are the elderly, children and those with any disabilities. We understand that most in our community are welcoming this visit, but we must also remember that there could be an individual with other intentions easily mixed in a large crowd.

Our challenge is the safety of everyone, and at times, it is not easily understood by the general public.

Diocese of El Paso releases video ahead of Pope’s visit; Explains events, ticket availability

With a little over two weeks until Pope Francis arrives in Juarez, the Diocese of El Paso prepared a video for those interested in buying tickets and learning more about the visit.

The Diocese has created the video, which will be played at all parishes this weekend. Five parishes (see video for details) will sell tickets this weekend and every weekday through Feb. 14. Tickets are also available via UTEP at 915-747-5234. Tickets  are $10 for parishioners with an access code provided at the parish, $15 for general tickets.

Friday afternoon officials said, “The Diocese strongly encourages groups to purchase their bulk tickets this weekend. We have interest in tickets from as far away as Miami, Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Therefore, we suggest El Pasoans and Las Crucens purchase tickets quickly to ensure a premium view of the day’s events.”

More than 200 applications for media credentials have now been received so it is apparent that Pope Francis’ visit to the border will garner worldwide attention.

Diocese officials add, “The Diocese of El Paso is excited to show the world our faithful community amd we invite everyone to come be a part of Two Nations, One Faith celebration at the Sun Bowl.”

Earlier this week, the Diocese of El Paso announced tha multi-platinum Country Music artist and Catholic convert Collin Raye will perform at the Sun Bowl, along with fellow award-winning guitarist and World Youth Day performer Tony Melendez, as a prelude to the official U.S. Papal Mass Telecast.

For more information, click HERE


Rosa Guerrero Elementary kindergartner to help welcome Pope Francis

When Pope Francis arrives at Abraham Gonzalez International Airport for his historic visit to Juárez on Feb. 17, a little bit of EPISD will be there to greet him.

Rosa Guerrero Elementary School kindergartner Iván Andrés Ávila will be among the 100 special-needs children and young adults who have been selected to welcome the pontiff during his visit to the Borderland.

“The date is really meaningful because it is one day after Iván’s birthday,” said his mother Astrid Ávila. “I know my son is a miracle, so for me this represents that I am doing a good job as a mother. Iván is my life.”

Iván, 5, has brittle bone disease and his bones can break easily. He also has some brain damage from a lack of oxygen during birth, his mother said.

Iván’s physical limitations do not dampen his spirit. His small brown eyes light up with all the attention he’s receiving as news of his visit with the pope grows.

“When he came home from the hospital he didn’t laugh or have facial expressions, but now he cracks up laughing,” Ávila said. “Those are beautiful things that he has learned here with his classmates.”

Iván and his mom will arrive at the Universidad Tecnológica de Juárez early Feb. 17 to be escorted to the airport for Pope Francis’ arrival and his welcoming reception. Initially, Iván was offered a ticket to the mass but had to decline because of his delicate condition.

He then was invited to meet the pope in a more private and controlled area.

“My greatest wish is for Iván to receive a blessing from Pope Francis,” Avila said. “Getting the blessing from the pope would be a sign that things are going well with Iván … that I’m doing what I need to be doing to be a good mother to him.”

The staff at Guerrero said teachers and students at the campus have slowly learned about Iván’s participation in the papal visit, and share in the excitement of the news.

“Iván is a blessing … a child that is loved by everyone at Guerrero,” said Principal Jill Crossley. “For him to be present at this historic event is just wonderful. He represents the hope and the perseverance of every child, not just at Guerrero, but throughout EPISD.”

Iván is enrolled in the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities and is non-verbal. However, he is adept at communicating with others and has flourished in the few years he’s attended Guerrero.

“For a student like Ivan who everyday has challenges and struggles that the rest of us can’t even imagine, this honor of going to see the pope is in my opinion so well deserved,” Crossley said. “It touches all of us because we see the hard work of his teacher and his mother. He is one loved child.”

To read all our coverage on the Pope’s Visit to Juarez, click HERE.

Author/Video: El Paso ISD

El Paso Diocese presents check for $73,000 to Juarez for Papal assistance

El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz called for a second collection Jan. 9-10, 2016 to help the Juarez Diocese off-set some costs related to their Papal visit and El Paso Catholics came through in a big way.

On Wednesday, Bishop Mark presented Juarez’s Vicar General, Msgr. Jose Rene Blanco, with a check of about $73,000.

Diocese of El Paso officials, via a news release, said “Thank you El Paso for coming through so generously and doing what you can to help ensure a beautiful visit to Juarez by Pope Francis.

A second check for $12,000 was also raised at a private event held to help the Juarez Diocese.

To view all our coverage on the Pope’s Visit, click HERE

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El Paso Diocese opens Command Center for questions on Pope’s Visit

The El Paso Diocese has opened a Command Center for local and out-of-town inquires regarding tickets for the “Two Nations, One Faith” celebration at the Sun Bowl on Feb. 17.

The phone number is (915) 872-7475. It is open daily from 9 AM – 5 PM (MST.) The Diocese of El Paso is honored to host a papal celebration for the faithful at the Sun Bowl which will include a live, two way telecast of the Mass in Juarez.

This will allow Pope Francis to see our community gathered together and he will offer a special message to all attendees.

There are 2 available options for purchasing $10 discounted tickets (plus applicable service fees) to attend the two-way simulcast event at the Sun Bowl:

1) Parishes throughout the city of El Paso will have Sun Bowl tickets for sale. Please visit your local El Paso parish to purchase either individual or group tickets with cash or check.

2) Parishioners can purchase discounted tickets through the University Ticket Center located at 2901 N. Mesa or by calling (915) 747-5234.

Each parish will provide a table for selling tickets before and after masses on Saturday and Sunday for ticket purchasing convenience. Cash and check will be accepted. This is a great opportunity to purchase your tickets with convenience before the Sun Bowl is SOLD OUT.

There is financial assistance available for any parishioners who cannot afford the discounted tickets.

Due to high demand from out of town visitors, Parish tickets will only be reserved at the discounted rate through February 8th 2016 at 5 PM MST. Buy your tickets now to take advantage of the discount code listed above and reserve your spot at this special event!

Click here to purchase your tickets:

General admission tickets are also available through Ticketmaster, however, the regular ticket

price is $15 + additional service fees.

For more information and additional details, please visit:

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