| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 05:15 pm
Upon hearing the news that white smoke was puffing from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, Fr. Ken Thorson, OMI, took a break from the minutes of a recent meeting he had been poring over to watch TV.
Like hundreds of millions of others he was anxious to see who the 115 cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church had selected as pope. He was excited when he heard that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, 76, of Argentina – known as Pope Francis – had been selected.
“My first thought was – I’m going to World Youth Day in Rio this summer – so my first thought was, ‘the crowds are going to be huge,’ ” Thorson laughed. “The crowds are always huge but now they’ll be doubly so.”
Thorson, who works with young men who are considering religious life as a career, said it was time that South America, the continent with the most Catholics in the entire world, was represented in the Holy See.
“I’m excited about the prospects his election to the papacy bring to the church and the focus of the church going forward,” Thorson said.
Pope Francis’ accession comes on only the second day of the conclave called to replace emeritus pope Benedict XVI, who resigned Feb. 28.
Holy Family Parish has confirmed it will hold a special mass in honour of Pope Francis tonight at 7:00 p.m. The church is located at 75 Poirier Ave.
There was already celebration in the offices of Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, according to superintendent David Keohane, as staff have been keeping a close eye on the live feed from cameras focused on the chimney at the Sistine Chapel.
“Every single computer in our office has had split screens, one for work and one for watching the smoke stack, seeing when the white smoke is going to come out. There’s been a lot of anticipation,” said Keohane.
Pope Francis’ election will mean a few changes at local Catholic schools. Staff will receive some materials on the new pontiff’s history, so the students can learn more about him. Also, as soon as they are ready, pictures of Pope Francis will be hung in the schools, over sections of wall that have sat bare since Benedict stepped down last month.
“We try to promote the pope, on the one hand as being selected to lead the Catholic church, but to show his human character,” Keohane said. “It enables all the children to learn this is someone we can learn from as a human being.”