Pope Francis: Journey to Paso del Norte – A Self Reflection

Let’s start with a full disclosure so there’s no confusion: I’m Catholic.

I was raised Catholic and I was educated at two Catholic schools – Loretto Academy for pre-school; and St. Pius X Catholic School from the first through the eighth grades. In high school the cost of a private education was too much.

So, it was my parents’ decision that I attend a public school for my four years of High School.

It was scary at first – not knowing anyone and making new friends – but in all honesty I think it was the best decision they ever made – in fact, it was in high school that my yearbook advisor opened my eyes to this career. And besides, my Catholic education continued through the Catholic Church, as I sought to get confirmed.

I also have a godmother/aunt who was and still is my guide to the Catholic teachings of the church – and whenever I stray or don’t attend Church for a while she reminds me – or does it without even saying anything.

In all honesty, if this were a confession booth, I’d confess that I haven’t been to church for oh…longer than I’d like to admit, and there are times that I’ve come to question my faith.

Wednesday was not one of those times.

12751708_834623779997382_2040717246_oI went into the mass as a journalist, but as soon as Pope Francis spoke, I became an active participant.

I did my best to take photos and work – but his presence just feet away from me was at times too much. I found myself repeating the prayers and saying them along with everyone.

When we were asked to say, “peace be with you” – or shake hands with a stranger as a sign of peace – I was happy to find that another fellow journalist offered his.

And then came the moments of prayer – I cried.

I would like to say it was the lack of sleep I had the night before in anticipation for the day’s historical event; the blazing heat of the sun; and the pain in my feet and legs from all the walking, running and standing that I had done all day – but it wasn’t.

The tears only came when the Holy Father spoke; they came when he delivered the homily – and they came when he said his farewells.

And as I remember it now – I can feel my eyes getting watery.

In journalism you are taught to be unbiased and not let your voice get in the story – there are exceptions of course (like this one) – but that’s the idea.

So, as a journalist, I stopped wearing anything that would indicate I was Catholic – because some folks take offense to that or may feel uncomfortable. And it’s okay – I understand.

But on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 – a day I will never forget – I let my guard down, listened intently to the Pope and let God in – if only for a moment. It was all He needed – any uncertainties that I had became clear.

As a journalist I feel privileged and very lucky to have been part of this global experience. And it was in fact global – journalists who spoke Italian and French were there; reporters from Los Angeles, New York and all across the country gathered here to document this.

And I was there among them – reporting, participating and sending up some prayers of my own.

By Alexandra Hinojosa, El Paso Herald Post Contributor