CIUDAD JUÁREZ — Ten-year-old Edgar Garcia didn’t mind waking up at 4 a.m. to cross the border from El Paso into Juárez Wednesday morning so he could see Pope Francis on the last day of his apostolic visit to Mexico.
“He felt even if we only saw him [for a few minutes] it would be a blessing for his family,” said his mother, Karla Garcia. “He told me there’s people coming from far away and we’re across the border. As a parent to see him have that devotion, that’s what brought me to come here.”
The Garcias are parishioners at St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso and were among the thousands of pilgrims and locals who lined the streets along the papal route waiting for the Holy Father to pass by.
“It’s a very happy moment and day for all of us who are here,” said Jorge Barrela, a parishioner at Santuario de Divino Niño Jesus (Sanctuary of the Divine Child Jesus) in Juárez.
Barrela was among the hundreds of volunteers who formed a human chain along Paseo Triunfo de la República, one of the streets on the Holy Father’s route. As part of a human chain, the volunteers helped with crowd control, but they had the added bonus of being in the front to see the pope.
“Perhaps we are pilgrims, serving the Lord,” he said.
Luz María Leyva, a parishioner at San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence) in Juárez, sat at a table selling T-shirts, mugs and other commemorative souvenirs in the Soriana San Lorenzo supermarket on the street. She was helping a friend who owns several stores inside the supermarket.
“Pope Francis is a beautiful human being,” said Leyva. “I loved that we had a Latino pope, but now that I’ve had a chance to get to know him more, I’m very impacted.”
To her, selling souvenirs for the papal visit is a service to the community.
“Life is full of moments,” she said. “The souvenirs are so [the pilgrims] can remember this moment.”
Irma Terrazas, a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi in El Paso, crossed the border Tuesday afternoon with her husband and three children.
“It’s a very beautiful thing that he’s concerned about this part of the world,” she said.
Terrazas is originally from Juárez and her family has been staying with her mother, Irma Estrada, a parishioner at San Mateo (St. Matthew) in Juárez. Estrada said that it sends a positive message that the Pope Francis is visiting the border.
“We’re united,” Estrada said. “This is a great blessing for all of Juárez. Tomorrow, we’ll be very content that he came to this land.”