Where are you from?
“I’m from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.”
Oh, I heard about the violence. It must be terrible.
(Deep sigh. Tired, forced smile.) “Oh, it’s better now.”
Some version of this conversation is annoyingly common here in St. Louis. My barber says the same happens to St. Louisans when outsiders ask them about the violence in their city.
Why does this question make me sigh inside? I think it is because it gets the conversation started on such a dark note. In this city, I learned what it means to be a loving person. Here I experienced tremendous joys, and friendship. This is where God met me for the first time!
I don’t want to shy away from the real violence that takes place in Juarez, but I’d like to be able to show you the entire picture. So, I couldn’t be more happy that the Pope is coming to visit my hometown, and that my provincial asked me to talk about it.
Now the conversation can be:
Oh, I heard the Pope is coming to visit!
Yes! Let me tell you all about it!
So, where do we begin? I think I’d like to begin with what in the tradition of St. Ignatius is called a “composition of place.” I’ll try to paint a picture of the places I grew up, and where the Pope will be walking through on Wednesday, February, 17. I hope to be able to convey what his visit means for me and for the people in Juarez. Please let me know what you’d like to hear about.