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Juarez churches, shelters prepare for pilgrims

Nearly one million pilgrims from all over the world are expected to follow Pope Francis as he arrives in Juarez.

Local hotels, schools, churches and shelters are opening up to give them a place to sleep and feed them during their stay. The Juarez Diocese has 89 churches. The majority will house pilgrims and they are scattered across the city. If those churches fill up, other locations are on standby.

“Falta mucho,” Araceli Lopez, with Centro De Renovacion in Juarez says.

She’s talking about the group’s efforts to help the nearly one million pilgrims expected. These are no ordinary visitors. They’re pilgrims from different churches who set off on a spiritual journey to follow the pope.

“They’re from different parts of Mexico, and all over the world. They come from the United States, form South America and Mexico,” Father Hesiquio Trevizo said.

The city’s community centers, churches and shelters are helping them with housing and food. Even local Juarenses have offered their own homes.

“So many families volunteered to step in, to host one pilgrim, two, three, four. I’ve even had some that said they want to host as many as 15 in their homes,” Lopez said.

The center’s empty warehouse will serve as a pick up area for donations in just a few days. A storage room out back holds thousands of donated items, ready to be packaged. So far volunteers have put together 350 bags containing everything from toiletry items to food the family may need during their stay here in Juarez.

“This Saturday, we’ll have the last gathering. We’re all getting together to finish the bags and fill them with toiletries and have everything finished,” Lopez said.

Monday and Tuesday will be the busiest days for the 100 volunteers, when the pilgrims are set to arrive. But the long hours will be worth it.

“We’re overjoyed, honestly, it was something unexpected, we feel like we won the lottery. It fills us with hope about what’s going to happen here in our city,” Lopez said.

The Diocese of Juarez has added a map of all the churches in the diocese which can be found here:

A directory of all churches can be found here:

Other helpful information can be found here:

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