Pope’s U.S. visit renews faith of local Catholics

By Helena Rodriguez

Catholic priests in Clovis and Portales describe Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to the U.S. this week as a shepherd tending his flock while Ted Olmos of Clovis recalls the “awe” of seeing another pontiff, John Paul II, in 1987.

Following a visit to Ground Zero in New York City this morning and an expected stadium-packed Mass this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at Yankee Stadium, Pope Benedict XVI will board a plane for Rome, ending his high-profile, six-day, first visit to the U.S. as pope.

“The Pope spoke to the people’s hearts, and it was wonderful for the people of America. In spite of all the problems we’ve had in the church, it has been enlightening to have your faith renewed in the presence of the Vicar of Christ,” said Father Sotero Sena, a priest of 26 years who pastors at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Clovis.

“I had somebody tell me yesterday, ‘We can’t go to Rome, but he’s come to us,’ and that’s awesome!” Sena said.

Sena was among a Clovis group that saw the late Pope John Paul II in Phoenix in 1987, noting that he was only five people away from John Paul II but was still unable to touch his hand. “I was so close. It was so awesome!” he said.

Sena also saw Pope John Paul II in Rome a couple of times.

Anthony Schroeder, a former district deputy for the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization, and the current faithful navigator for the fourth degree