Local Catholics Gather To Celebrate Election Of New Pope - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Local Catholics Gather To Celebrate Election Of New Pope

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The Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville. The Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville.
Local Catholic students gather outside Aquinas College in Nashville. Local Catholic students gather outside Aquinas College in Nashville.
Students at Christ the King School on Belmont Boulevard watch the video feed as Pope Francis was announced as the new leader of the church. Students at Christ the King School on Belmont Boulevard watch the video feed as Pope Francis was announced as the new leader of the church.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Catholics in Nashville gathered downtown at the Cathedral of the Incarnation to celebrate and give support to their new leader, Pope Francis.

Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected pope Wednesday, becoming the first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He chose the name Francis, associating himself with the humble 13th-century Italian preacher who lived a life of poverty.

Pope Francis will lead 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, including those in Middle Tennessee.

A special rally was quickly organized at Aquinas College along Harding Pike after the announcement that a new pope had been selected. Dozens of people turned out to talk about the excitement of the day.

Father John Baker from the Cathedral of the Incarnation had what was probably a similar reaction to the millions of people glued to their television when Bergoglio was announced as the new pope.

"Wow. I mean what else can you say, it's a lot quicker than I was expecting for one thing. A lot of firsts – First Pope from the Americas, and I think the first Jesuit pope, so it's very exciting," he said.

Father Baker thought Pope Francis seemed comfortable and poised in his first appearance as the new church leader.

"He just seemed to be quite content to just stand there and I thought he was very poised. What a difficult role to be thrust into and he just seemed to be able to stand there and just enjoy the moment, and just - when it quieted down, to speak," he said.

Before the rally hundreds of Catholic school children watched history in the making.

Hundreds of students were also waiting in suspense at Christ the King School on Belmont Boulevard. They all huddled together in the gym with eyes glued to the video live feed from Vatican City.

"It helps us become part of our faith. We get to watch this election process and witness it first hand," said 8th grader Sarah Wilson. "We can study it, but witnessing it first hand is completely different and it's a completely new kind of thing."

Wilson said for her class, the election of the pope allowed them to see a part of history that doesn't happen very often.

"It was very important for us to do that because not every class gets to do that, and this only happens every so often. It's not like you can just turn it on one day," said Wilson.

The day of celebration ended at the Cathedral of the Incarnation on West End Avenue.

There Nashville Bishop David Choby presided over a special votive mass in celebration of Pope Francis.

"(It's) a joyful day, and a happy day that the church once again has its chief Shepard," Bishop Choby said.

The Bishop explained how he was surprised the church's Cardinals came to a decision on a new pope so quickly.

"I thought it might go into Thursday, even possibly Friday, but anyway, everybody is excited about the prospect of Pope Francis," the Bishop explained.

Pope Francis' election was historic on several levels, but the Bishop spoke out about him being the first Latin Pope to lead the church.

"The Hispanic culture has contributed so much to the life of the church through the centuries, and now for that community to have as Pope, one of their own, I am sure must bring them great joy," according to the Bishop.

Hundreds of students were also waiting in suspense at Christ the King School on Belmont Boulevard. They all huddled together in the gym with eyes glued to the video live feed from Vatican City.

Students knew they were watching history unfold.

"It helps us become part of our faith. We get to watch this election process and witness it first hand," said 8th grader Sarah Wilson. "We can study it, but witnessing it first hand is completely different and it's a completely new kind of thing."

Wilson said for her class, the election of the pope allowed them to see a part of history that doesn't happen very often.

"It was very important for us to do that because not every class gets to do that, and this only happens every so often. It's not like you can just turn it on one day," said Wilson.

Pope Francis was expected to celebrate a Mass on Thursday at the altar in front of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" in the Sistine Chapel with the cardinals.

On his first full day he also plans to pray at St. Mary Major basilica in Rome. American Cardinal Timothy Dolan said Francis told fellow cardinals he would visit Benedict on Thursday.

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