Marian HS students cram into classroom to watch Pope Francis election

White smoke billowed from the chimney at the Sistine Chapel, around 2 p.m. EDT signaling that a new pope had been chosen.

The cardinals elected Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who chose the name, "Francis".

Pope Francis is the first pontiff from the Americas, and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.

The 76-year-old spent nearly his entire career in Argentina, and is known as a humble man who modernized a church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America.

As the new pontiff looked on to celebrations in Saint Peter's Square, the excitement continued, an ocean away, right here in Michiana.

At Marian High School the receptionist was live-streaming news coverage on her computer. Students were saying prayers in the school chapel and then during tenth hour, word broke that the white seagull had given way to white smoke.

More than 50 students gathered in a theology classroom to watch a live stream from Vatican City. When Pope Francis spoke in Italian, the students listened. When he led Saint Peter's Square in prayer, the students followed, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary.

"We were in the hallway and a couple of the seniors ran down saying, 'we have a pope, we have a pope.' I was late to class so I just ducked into a religion class next door instead of going to Latin and we saw the white smoke going up and the curtain was moving and it was really exciting," sophomore Joan Becker said.

For most of the kids, this was the first conclave they can remember. After all Pope Benedict the 16th was elected in the spring of 2005, now eight years ago.

"You can feel the vibe of everyone being relieved and happy that there's someone in the world that's going to be our new leader and the new father for everyone in the world," sophomore Isaac Torres mentioned.

While born in Argentina, Pope Francis is the son of Italian immigrants, meaning this selection is a bridge between the new and old world. It also honors many Catholic’s desire for change and modernization.

While some were concerned about tension brewing between a current and retired Pope, Pope Francis' blessing of Benedict XVI calmed any of those fears.

"It would have been amazing to see it in person, but watching it with classmates was next best thing. Just knowing that God's in there with us, the new pope with his blessing and everything, it's just perfect," sophomore Chris Schaeper concluded.


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