EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – On Saturday, the gates of the border fence were opened so that El Pasoans could stand on the north side of the Rio Grande. As the community of Ciudad Juarez joined on the Mexican side of the river.
Bishops from El Paso and Las Cruces crossed a make shift bridge over the Rio Grande to hold a mass alongside the Bishop of Juarez. Some traveling from across the country to attend.
“It’s really symbolic I think that just even that little bridge there shows that everybody is united,” said Faith Caruso from St Louis Missouri. “We’re on two sides but we’re all here for the same reason.”
During the mass clothes that have been left behind by migrants crossing the river were placed on a table.
“Today, we remember in a very historical way those who have died trying to look for a better life, or escaping dangers themselves,” said Peter Baldacchino the Bishop of Las Cruces.
Some attending the mass from out of town had never seen the border wall before and say people who are not from El Paso or Ciudad Juarez don’t understand the relationship between the two cities.
“There are so many contrasts, the border the physical is such a division and yet there was such a unified spirit,” said Kathy Beemen from Chicago. “I found it very moving to be apart of it. At one point people were waiving across as we were sharing peace and it’s so many contrasts here and mixed emotions.”
Once the Mass was over, the bridge that allowed the Bishops to cross was taken down. However, the Bishop of Las Cruces says he understands the need for borders but also to care for those in need.
“I understand that every country needs to defend it’s area and we have no rights to be in a place,” said Bishop Baldacchino. “But at the same time to also recognize what are the needs of others and somehow reach out. I think we have many opportunities to reach out to others.”
Speakers at the Mass thanked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the International Boundary and Water Commission for letting them have the mass on either side of the Rio Grande. Making it possible for both communities to worship together.