I am Pepe Ruiz, a Jesuit priest, high school theology teacher and campus minister. I am a member of the USA 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 call it endearingly 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 Juarez was a popular hangout for people from El Paso, and the U.S. Also, during the mid 20th century, when the Catholic Church was heavily persecuted in Mexico, the Churches in El Paso, TX, were a 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. Having been known only by its darkness, may the light shine on Juárez, may it 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.
[Versión en Español Aquí]