CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (CNS) — As soon as Rosa and Sergio Siller heard Pope Francis was visiting Ciudad Juarez, they knew they had to visit.
The couple led a group of pilgrims from Sacred Heart Parish in Phoenix to Sergio Siller’s hometown, the last stop on Pope Francis’ Feb. 12-17 visit to Mexico.
“Being from Juarez, and after all this turmoil that happened, we’re so blessed the pope (will) come to Juarez to bring a message of mercy, forgiveness and hope,” said Sergio Siller.
The Sillers typically visit Juarez three or four times a year, but when they learned of Pope Francis’ visit, they made arrangements right away.
“As soon as we learned, it was like, ‘Oh my goodness, we have to be there,'” said Rosa Siller.
They are meeting with four other pilgrims from Phoenix while they’re in Juarez, she said, adding that relatives from as far north as Indiana also were coming.
While they are in Juarez, the pilgrims hoped to visit several pilgrimage sites within the city. While visiting San Lorenzo parish, one of the parishes with a designated Door of Mercy, the Sillers also shopped at the gift shop to buy gifts for friends and family to be blessed by the pope.
In the San Lorenzo parking lot, Juarez locals Carlos Torres and Lourdes Gutierrez took the pope’s challenge to be “missionaries of mercy” to heart, passing out commemorative posters of Pope Francis’ visit.
When asked how much the posters were, they said they were free.
“We want to do this to help the people,” Torres said. “We’re doing this for no other reason than to thank God for all he has given us.”
Torres and Gutierrez are parishioners at nearby San Judas parish and are part of an unnamed group of Catholics from various local parishes wanting to show hospitality and mercy to all of the pilgrims.
“We’ll be meeting with some families to buy drinks, water, sandwiches, etc., for the people who will be waiting for the pope to pass,” Torres said.
San Lorenzo was the pair’s third stop late Feb. 15. Gutierrez said she was filled with “excitement, joy, peace and much more joy,” at the pope’s coming visit to her city.
“We want the pilgrims to leave with a beautiful image of the people of Juarez,” she said.
Juarez has been plagued by violence over the past decade, with the homicide rate peaking above 3,100 in 2010; 300 murders in 2015 was the lowest reported since 2006.
“There’s hope. God knows we’re in need here,” said Rosa Siller. “They need to feel like (Pope Francis) is bringing a message the Lord loves his people.
Gutierrez is editor of The Catholic Sun in Phoenix.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103