Hispanics describe close ties with pope | VailDaily.com

Hispanics describe close ties with pope

Veronica Whitney
Preston Utley/Vail Daily The Pope's death this weekend affected many in the Eagle Valley.

EAGLE COUNTY – Six years ago, Juana Rivera traveled 20 hours by car to see Pope John Paul II when he visited St. Louis.”When you were in his presence, you felt a peace I can’t describe. It was a beautiful experience,” said Rivera, 27, of Edwards. “I can’t compare it to anything. I felt a tranquility I have never felt again.”Rivera and other Hispanics gathered Sunday at St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church in Edwards to attend Mass and pray for the pope, who died Saturday in Vatican City after leading the Catholic church for 26 years.Laura Garudono called Pope John Paul II a special person who she saw three times during his visits to Mexico, the largest Catholic country in the world after Brazil.”When I saw him, I felt a peace and serenity I can’t explain,” said Garudono, 32, of Avon. “Just knowing he was close to you, changed you.” Georgina Hernandez also made a pilgrimage to see the pope when he visited Mexico City in January, 1979.”The pope gives Hispanic Catholics a lot of faith,” said Hernandez, 56, of Avon. “I had the luck to see him in Mexico City. Mexico was one of the first countries the pope visited. Today, I feel a great sadness over his death. I don’t think there will be a pope like this one again. He was my favorite. I didn’t get to know the other popes, but never before a pope had visited my country.”

Juan Manuel Guillen agreed with Hernandez that it will be hard to replace John Paul II.”He was the only pope who traveled across the world,” said Guillen, 30, of Avon. “It’s a great loss.”The path to GodTo Guillen, religion is the road to God.”And (John Paul II) was the path to God,” he added. “I hope the new pope goes out to take God’s message as Christ did.”Behind his glasses, 11-year-old Brandon Guillen’s long eyelashes filled with tears when he started talking about the pope.

“I was very sad, I cried a lot and prayed for him,” Brandon said of his reaction when he heard of the pope’s death. “I had fear about his death. It was like it was my father.”Although she is sad about the pope’s death, Elizabeth Soto said it was probably a relief for the pope.”He was very ill. I think he is better now,” said Soto, 32, of EdwardsTo Marta Solano, 30, of Edwards, the pope represents the maximum authority of Jesus on earth.”I hope the ones who choose the next pope do it with full consciousness to do it well,” Solano said. “I hope they choose the right person.” There are now 117 cardinals eligible to vote in the conclave to elect John Paul’s successor. Armando Reyes said he hopes another pope with the same qualities comes along.

“I liked his charisma and dedication to the church,” said Reyes, 42, of Edwards.Juana Rivera said she expects changes of the new pope. “Religious and liturgic. Mostly a change in the personality,” she said. “I hope (the new pope) continues to pay attention to the young people and the families.”What Pope John Paul II left to Catholics and people in the world with his teachings is a better path to follow, Garudono said.”I hope the next pope is similar to him,” she added. “I hope he visits the Third World countries, the poorer countries, like he did.”Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or vwhitney@vaildaily.com. Vail Colorado

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