Report from Ciudad Juárez by Lucina Kathmann

Tabor House, February 25, 2016

[Tabor House is the home of Sr Betty and Fr Peter who live and work with the people of Ciudad Juárez on the Texas/Mexican border.]

I am in Ciudad Juárez, a large city still completely in the throes of Pope Fever. Every person,
publication, billboard, front door....every everything has its own take on the matter. I have seen displays which seemed to indicate that the pope was repairing autos since the business featured a big picture of Pope Francis instead of their usual logo. The same with the children's schoolbooks: algebra and grammar evidently courtesy of the pope. Not to mention special publications which go to every unlikely detail. In one of them I was just reading the recipes for ten of the most frequent dishes served to His Holiness at Casa Santa Martha.

Although you can hear quite enough right here in Tabor House, which is either agreeing with o
energetically opposing every comment on the pope's visit every minute, we went out to talk to a few other citizens of Colonia Insurgentes. They act like regular people until you mention the TOPIC when they explode in smiles and want to tell their whole story, every word. Did I hear about the amazing inmate woman orator at the mass at the jail? What section was this neighbor standing in, with what relative or friend and for how many hours? What sort of hat did she have? And so on. I have learned to ask 200 questions I never heard of in my 73 3/4 years of life until yesterday.

It is contagious. At first I thought, "Oh yes, these comments are inevitable," and I thought it was mildly nice. By today, when I saw Señora Candelaria's video that her sister took right at her elbow, when the absolutely unexpected thing happened and the pope passed them at an arm's distance, when the pope appeared I screamed.

So have I become a citizen of this town or what?

The pope's visit cost a lot of money and did not fix any social problems. It transfigured a whole
city, though. Seems like a pretty good investment to me.