Patty Knap calls herself a “born again” Catholic. She planned to be a wife and mother of four or five kids with several girls, but as life played out, she’s a single mom with two young adult boys. She counsels at a crisis pregnancy center, teaches CCD, takes online classes with the Avila Institute, and loves the beach, dalmatians, and America’s national parks. She also saves recipes in a pile until it gets big and then throws them out.
From 2008–2010, Ciudad Juárez, in northern Mexico was listed as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, due to drug and gang related violence. Now in a dramatic turnaround, the city is considered safer than several American cities, including Baltimore and New Orleans.
Fr. Patrico Hileman believes the change is due to Eucharistic Adoration. “When a parish adores God day and night, the city is transformed,” Fr. Hileman said.
Jorge Gonzalez Nicholas, a prosecutor from Ciudad Juárez, said, "Juárez has suffered so much and been through so much pain. But the city is reviving: It's a symbol of what can be done. There is no other place in the world that has managed to turn itself around so quickly."
Fr. Hileman told Radio María Argentina that missionaries opened the first Perpetual Adoration Chapel in Juarez in 2013. At that time “40 people a day were dying because two drug gangs were fighting over the city to move drugs into the United States.”
They were the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels — the latter of which was led by Joaquín “el Chapo” Guzmán Loera, who was recently extradited from Mexico to the United States. Fr. Hileman recalled that “the parishes were saying that the war wasn't ending because a group of soldiers were with one gang and the police were with the other one. They were killing people, burning houses down so they would leave, fighting over the city.”
It was right after Adoration was begun that the murder rate started dropping dramatically. From 2010–2015, the murder rate dropped from a staggering 3,766 to only 256.
One of the parishes that was “desperate” asked the missionaries to open a Perpetual Adoration chapel because they assured that “only Jesus is going to save us from this, only Jesus can give us security.” The missionaries only took three days to establish the first Perpetual Adoration chapel in Juarez.
Fr. Hileman told of one incident when the city was under a state of siege. A woman was on her way to the chapel to do her Holy Hour at 3:00 a.m., when she was intercepted by six soldiers who asked her where she was heading. When the woman told them that she was going to “the little chapel” the uniformed men asked her where that could be, because everything was closed at that hour. Then the woman suggested they accompany her to see for themselves. When they got to the chapel, the soldiers found “six women making the Holy Hour at the 3:00 in the morning,” Fr. Hileman said.
She added, “Do you think you're protecting us? We're praying for you 24 hours a day.”
One of the uniformed men fell down holding his gun, “crying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The next day at 3:00 in the morning they saw him in civilian clothes doing a Holy Hour, crying oceans of tears,” he said.
Within two months of the Adoration chapel opening, the pastor “calls us and says to us: Father, since the chapel was opened there has not been one death in Juarez, it's been two months since anyone has died.”
In February 2016, Pope Francis visited the formerly violence-torn city, and spoke at a local prison:
Let us together ask our God for the gift of conversion, the gift of tears, let us ask him to give us open hearts like the Ninevites, open to His call heard in the suffering faces of countless men and women. No more death! No more exploitation! There is always time to change, always a way out and always an opportunity; there is always the time to implore the mercy of God.