Tampa Bay Jesuits, Latinos celebrate new Pope

Pope Francis I makes history

TAMPA - When the official announcement came that Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope, students at Tampa's Jesuit High School erupted in cheers.  After all, for them, it was more than just the selection of a new leader for the Catholic Church.  Pope Francis I was the first Jesuit ever to be chosen.

"My reaction was utter disbelief," said Sean Salai, a theology teacher at Jesuit High.  "He was the only Jesuit in the conclave, a member of my own religious order.  One out of a 115 chance that this would happen," Salai said.

Victor Pena, a freshman at the school, said his great uncle is Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Dominican Republican.  Pena said he was watching the coverage on television and saw the Cardinal several times during the conclave.

 "I knew that he didn't have much of a chance of being the Pope," Pena said.  "But just that he was there and he helped in the choosing, it's a big deal."

Jonathan Ruiz, 14, said he was proud to see a Latino elected for the first time.  "To be the first, it's just really nice because I'm hispanic.  So it mean a lot me to get an ethnic Pope in there," Ruiz said.

Raoul Sanchez, a Catholic originally from Colombia, said he could feel the excitement within the Latin American community.  

"I can see his management style and his humility," Sanchez said.  "It will bring a lot of good to the church."

A special mass was assembled Wednesday evening at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Lutz, where Bishop Robert Lynch of the St. Petersburg Diocese presided.  Lynch called for prayers for the new Pope and future success.

Earlier, the Bishop said he was surprised by the selection Bergoglio because of his advanced age.

"I was a little shocked initially thinking that we would possibly be leaning towards a younger candidate," said Lynch, who correctly predicted the new Pope's nationality.  

"I picked Argentina, but a different candidate.  So I had the wrong horse," Lynch said.


 

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