Triad Priest On Pope: We Are Elated

11:09 PM, Mar 13, 2013   |    comments
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Courtesy: Getty Images

Greensboro, NC -- What do Catholics in the Triad think about their new leader?

A lot of local Catholics were pulling for a pope from the United States.

Some local priests, who are more in the know about which cardinals were candidates, had their own favorites.

But when they learned about the man now known as Pope Francis I, they were thrilled.

"I think it's a beautiful beginning, and one that I'm so at peace with it. There's just a sense I haven't had in quite a while," said Father Eric Kowalski, Pastor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Greensboro.

"We are elated. As one of my students said, we'll be learning the salsa," said Father Gerald Waterman, a Conventional Franciscan Friar Priest, who presides over the Newman Center at Elon University.

At Elon University Wednesday night, Catholic students gathered for mass.

They celebrated the new leader of the church, but also prayed for him, just as he asked.

The younger generation was well aware of the huge job Pope Francis has ahead of him -- dealing with the fallout from scandals and bringing Catholics back to their faith.

"I think it's change. I think it's very different and I think it's going to be extremely motivational. And I think it's going to be very uplifting for young Catholics," said Joshua McGee, an Elon student.

"He seems like he has such a diverse set of skills to bring to the table and great experience and involvement with all different groups of people," said Kristen DeMaria, another Elon student.

Kowalski said given Pope Francis's background, he thinks his mission will be outreach and evangelization.

However, both the students and clergy believe Pope Francis will be a leader and a healer. The name he chose reflects that.

"Francis is not only a great saint of humility, but also one of courage for reform," said Kowalski.

Kowalski added that he does not think the Pope's age, 76, will be a disadvantage for him.

"I think that age really starts to blend out when they start to accept him as Holy Father, as the Pope, and then it doesn't matter. You become timeless in a sense," he said.

According to Kowalski, the word "Catholic" actually means universal, so a pope from Latin America sends it's own message.

"I think it's reinforcing the universality of the church," he said. "And that God is calling all people to a relationship and to a holiness in that relationship."

WFMY News 2

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