As the leader of the El Paso Catholic Diocese and more than 670,000 Catholics in 10 counties, Bishop Mark Seitz has proved to be as effective as he is eloquent, charismatic and caring.
And when, with just two months’ notice, he and the diocese learned that Pope Francis had added Juárez to his scheduled stops in Mexico in February, Seitz did what he could to ensure that El Pasoans would share that experience.
The diocese leased the Sun Bowl and made hasty arrangements to put Pope Francis’ live comments and Mass on the stadium’s Jumbotron, so El Pasoans could experience it together for free or for as little as $5, conveniently and above all, safely.
As it happened, the grave warnings about violence and dangerous crowds proved untrue, even as 220,000 people packed the El Punto site immediately across the border from El Paso.
The Sun Bowl watch party turned into a wonderful experience for an estimated crowd of more than 30,000.
“I am overfilled by this, and amazed,” one man said, in testament to the moving and memorable events on a day that two cities shared and many citizens will remember.