UPDATED: Catholics in Andover React to New Pope Francis I
The white smoke appeared on Wednesday, signalling that the conclave had chosen Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be the new head of the Catholic Church. Locals across the community responded.
The Catholic Church as a new leader and this means many things to people in the Catholic community. And to the church leaders at St. Augustine's Parish on Essex Street in Andover, it's positive news.
As the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from South America and the first non-european pope in 13 centuries, the choice is unique, said Deacon Lou Piazza, of St. Augustine's Parish.
"Pope Francis is an unconventional choice, a surprising choice to lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics," said Piazza. "His first actions of pope, centered in prayer, welcoming the assembly in St. Peter's Square addressing them as Brothers and Sisters, are indicative of his style of leadership and his own personality."
He commented that Cardinal Sean O'Malley is a strong member of the Catholic church and that they're lucky to have him.
"Cardinal Sean is a local treasure, and a gift for the Catholic people of the Archdiocese of Boston. We are blessed to have him as our local shepherd, and I'm thrilled that he'll be returning to Boston," said Piazza.
Also from St. Augustine's, Father Peter Gori had good things to say in his first impressions of the new pope.
"I know almost nothing about him yet, but the first impression made when he was presented "to the city and the world" (Urbi et Orbi) was a very good one," said Gori.
"He strikes me as gentle, humble and prayerful. All good qualities that he shares with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.I am delighted that he is from Argentina. (My first Spanish teacher was from Argentina.) I know he is very well respected by those who do know him."
Gori also had comments on why the choice was made to name the new pope Francis.
"In honor of St. Francis of Assisi whose mission/vocation was to "rebuild the church" according to the account of his mystical expeience at San Damiano. In this way, I suspect that Pope Francis sees his role as an important instrument in the church's recovery from some serious, well known difficulties," said Gori.
"Francis is also in honor of one of St. Ignatius's closest friends and collaborators, St. Francis Xavier. This would reflect the Pope's Jesuit vocation."
St. Augustine's Youth Minister Katie LeBlanc said her first reactions of the new pope was that he was a little overwhelmed by the news.
"My first reaction, he kind of looked like a deer in headlinghts," said LeBlanc. "It wasn’t my sense that he was happy about it but he seemed super humble."
She also feels the new pope represents a new beginning and a chance for the Catholic church to heal as a whole.
"I think there are layers of healing needed," said LeBlanc. "This is a sense of hope at this point."