EL PASO, TEXAS While hundreds of thousands gathered for the papal mass Feb. 17 on the Juárez, Mexico, side of the border, roughly 550 people that the El Paso diocese called "Pope Francis' VIPs" -- including immigrants, activists, students and religious -- awaited a blessing from the opposite side of the fence.
"Se ve, se siente – el papa está presente!" the crowd chanted ("It's seen, it's felt; the pope is present"), which eventually morphed into a collective scream as the pope arrived at the platform where he would have a moment of silent prayer and wave to the animated crowd about a football field away.
Those in attendance said the experience was unforgettable and that they felt fortunate to be one of the few with the opportunity to see the pope. But his words, more importantly, left an impression on the crowd, primarily his call for a conversion of mercy toward migrants.