It’s not every day the Pope comes to visit – and when only 500 people were invited to attend a special mass – it was an honor to be included!
Upbring Transitional Foster Care – El Paso received the special invitation through Father Arturo Banuelas with St. Mark Catholic Church, one of two parishes in the community providing services to the young, unaccompanied children in our care.
Because the event was scheduled to take more than six hours, and the majority of transitional foster children in our program are age 13 and younger, only older children could participate. Five children, six staff members and one foster parent took part in the binational Mass, along with other El Paso-area organizations who care and work with immigrants in some capacity.
The special mass took place on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the levee on the border of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Our group was able to listen and watch the mass as it was celebrated approximately 200 yards away in Juarez – Cardinals and Bishops on the U.S. side gave communion at the levee.
At one point, Pope Francis – only approx. 120 yards away as he walked up a specially built platform next to the Rio Grande River – made the sign of the cross and blessed our group. Pope Francis then offered a silent prayer for the thousands of immigrants who have died while trying to reach the United States.
About Upbring Transitional Foster Care – El Paso
Upbring Transitional Foster Care was established in El Paso in 2008 to provide expanded services to very young unaccompanied minors. The program has served hundreds of children since – furnishing lifesaving support including medical care, case management, education and psychological and spiritual care, legal services and community-based activities. Upbring Transitional Foster Care is called to serve these children and offer them opportunities for a better life.
Verified foster families in the El Paso area care for these children, ages 0-17, with priority given to those 12 years of age and under, sibling groups and pregnant or parenting teens. The program has the capacity to care for 50 children.