Pope Francis' historic visit to the U.S-Mexico border is just days away. The Papal visit will include stops throughout Mexico City, and, will end with a mass in Juarez on February 17. More than 200,000 people are expected to attend, including some, from Central Texas.
The Bishop of Austin, Joe Vasquez and Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Garcia will travel to Juarez, along with a handful of other U.S. Bishops, to celebrate mass with the Pope. The mass is expected to draw more than two-hundred thousand people.
"Knowing how many people crossed the border," Bishop Vasquez says of the historic visit, adding, "particularly at this intersection between Juarez and El Paso. The Holy Father knows the importance of the place where many people cross over into this country seeking a better life, wanting to start a new beginning, wanting to reunite with their families."
Also invited to celebrate, Dr. Gerardo Ramos. He is the music minister at St. William Parish in Round Rock. A native of Juarez, he will be singing with the 200 member choir, and will also be performing a solo.
"The song, I have actually sang it already, so i am not worried about that," he says, "it's more about preparing myself spiritually and not musically."
A lifelong musician, Ramos grew up singing in his local choir in Juarez. A city that's been ravaged by cartel violence. "One of my choir members, a good good friend of mine was killed in one of these incidents."
That was six years ago. So in a sense he says he's been rehearsing for this spiritual moment for many years. "It's going to heal some of that emptiness that I have from the loss of one of my choir members."
And Ramos says he hopes the Pope's visit will do the same for the Mexican people who suffer those losses everyday too. "I think he is coming to help us heal our hearts."
And if you are planning to travel to Juarez, here are some things to think about:
-The roads and bridges to the border will be closed on the day of the mass
-The Diocese of Austin says they don't have any tickets to hand out for the mass
-The Diocese of El Paso is hosting a viewing party at Sun Bowl Stadium
-It will be a simulcast of the mass in Juarez
-Tickets for that are eighteen dollars
Fox 7 will be travelling to the border for the historic visit, and will be covering the mass live. It is set to start at 5PM CST.