I am Pepe Ruiz, a Jesuit priest, high school theology teacher and campus minister. I am a member of the U.S. Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus, currently serving at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis, Missouri. But I am a native of Ciudad Juárez, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
At one time, Juárez was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Locals are fond of calling it the “Gotham City of Mexico.” The violence has subsided somewhat in recent years, but the city still suffers from poverty, crime, and corruption. Located right on the border with the United States, Ciudad Juárez serves as a portal for immigrants, both documented and undocumented. This places Ciudad Juárez at the crossroads of globalization—in the intersection of cheap labor, industrial development, and all their unintended consequences. Did I mention that Juárez is also where the margarita was invented, and probably the burrito as well? During the U.S. prohibition years, Juárez was a popular hangout for people from El Paso, TX and others from the U.S. Also during the mid 20th century, when the Catholic Church was heavily persecuted in Mexico, the churches in El Paso, were hosts to many from Ciudad Juárez. In fact Sacred Heart, from my very own Jesuit Province, still serves Spanish speakers as a result of that historical relationship.
This month, Ciudad Juárez will welcome Pope Francis. The excitement in my hometown is palpable, and I cannot stay away. Thanks to the leaders of my province and the high school where I serve, I will return to Juarez to experience the papal visit firsthand. This blog will be the place where I share my thoughts and feelings and what I see and do. I hope you’ll join me!
I plan to provide you with the “inside scoop” as I interview people and share with you what this place means to me. Although Juárez is often known for its darkness, I pray that light would shine on Juárez and touch the hearts of many. May this agent of God inspire the leaders of tomorrow and the leaders of today, who work so hard to make my hometown a better place.