Outdoor Mass highlights pope's trip to Mexico

March 25, 2012 9:21:18 AM PDT
Pope Benedict XVI prepared Sunday for an outdoor Mass in Mexico that drew hundreds of thousands of people.

The Mass, scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Chicago time in the Mexican city of Silao, is the highlight of the pope's first official visit to the country. It was expected to last about two hours.

It was challenging to get to Bicentennial Park, the site of the Mass Sunday morning. Dozens of buses were trying to carry hundred of journalists from all over the globe to the Mass site to cover the event. That was in addition to the scores of the faithful traveling to Silao, as well, many walking miles to get there.

On Saturday night, the pope made a trip to the historic city of Guanajuato, which is the cradle of Mexico's independence. There, he met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Afterwards, climbed up to a balcony over a plaza and spoke to the children of Mexico and of the world, especially those who are abandoned, hungry and suffering. He called them God's gift and he says they should rely on the church and rely on Christ, and if they do so, they will never be alone.

The pontiff also said he wanted to raise his voice to protect children so that their smiles, as he put it, will never be erased and so that they can be hopeful about the future.

That message of hope, peace and faith was uplifting message for the people of Mexico and for Chicagoans who traveled to Mexico to see the pope, including the Lopez family.

"It is some important for me to go to mass because our Holy Father represents God, and this is my hometown. So, I'm anxious to be here, 4 o'clock in the morning all the way until the Mass," one family member said.

"I feel that my country needs hope, and to see the pope in my hometown personally, I feel proud of myself. I am Mexican, and I live in Chicago, but no matter where the pope is going, I'm going," said another relative.

Buses carrying members of the news media traveled the same roads from Leon, Mexico to Silao, Mexico that the pope was traveling in the pope mobile, waving to those lining the streets.

After Sunday's Mass, the pope has a break, and then, he is going to have vespers, or evening prayers, with the bishops from areas throughout Mexico and Latin America and other Catholic leaders. The hope is that they will hear his words, and then go back to their parishes and spread the pope's message.

Monday morning, Pope Benedict XVI boards an airplane to go to Cuba for the next leg of his journey. ABC7 's Chuck Goudie was set to report live from Habana, Cuba beginning Sunday night at 10 p.m.