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El Paso church anticipates papal visit with shrine

Sacred Heart Catholic Church is closest Diocese of El Paso church to border

Although Pope Francis is expected to be in Ciudad Juarez Wednesday, the anticipation for the visit is being felt on the El Paso side of the border.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church is the closest Diocese of El Paso church to the Mexican border. It sits just one and a half blocks away.

Father Ronald D. Gonzales, S.J. is the pastor of the church in the neighborhood called Segundo Barrio. Parishioners have set up a shrine to honor Pope Francis. People gather at it daily to pray for a safe trip for the leader of the Catholic church, as well as the safety of all those traveling just to get a glimpse of him.

Five miles away, at the Sun Bowl at the University of Texas at El Paso campus, tens of thousands of people will be at the Two Nations, One Faith celebration hosted by the Diocese of El Paso on Wednesday. Organizers have more than 700 performers, artists and speakers from around the world lined up. However, at 4 p.m. El Paso time, all eyes will likely be glued on the stadium's Jumbotron as Pope Francis holds a Mass at a large field near Benito Juarez Stadium.

The simulcast will also allow Pope Francis to see all those gathered in the Sun Bowl. Not only will he pray over the Rio Grande, the physical border between the U.S. and Mexico, he will bless all those at the Sun Bowl. 

Sacred Heart parishioner Raquel Garay Williams can't wait for the moment of the blessing.

"I do truly believe all the blessings that he's bringing ... he's going to make a change," Garay Williams said. "He's making a change already as is."

Pope Francis has been in Mexico for several days now. He's discussed important topics such as immigration, corruption and violence. In Ciudad Juarez, he will meet with Mexican prisoners, business leaders and workers ahead of the Mass.

KSAT-12 will have complete coverage of the six-hour Two Nations, One Faith event.