St. Helen's Pastor Calls First Latin American Pope a 'Nice Surprise'
Fr. Michael Saporito says he imagines Argentinians are "ecstatic."
Rev. Michael Saporito, pastor of St. Helen's Catholic Church in Westfield, called this afternoon's announcement that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, of Argentina, a Jesuit, was elected pope "a nice surprise."
"It is very exciting time, of course," said Saporito. "There are a great many Catholics in Latin America. That's an area where the Catholic Church is thriving and I imagine the people there must be ecstatic right now."
Across town at Holy Trinity Interparochial School Mary Kay Cullinan, religious education teacher, said the students were very excited as they eagerly awaited word of the selection of the new pontiff.
"We have a 'Cardinal Display' in our hallway with pictures of each 'Pope contender' Cardinal and a brief biography," Cullinan explained before today's announcement. "This was put together by my seventh grade religion class for all to see. Each of them now wants his/her Cardinal to be Pope!"
It was a day of firsts for the Roman Catholic Church as Pope Francis is the first pope from the Americas and the first Jesuit.
On Westfield Patch's Facebook page, Trish Carey Fitzpatrick, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Saint Peter's Preparatory School, wrote, "As someone who works at New Jersey's only Jesuit high school, Saint Peter's Prep, I rejoice!"
Saporito said this selection will most likely be met with joy among the Catholic community in the Diocese of Newark.
"We've got an awful lot of Catholics from that part of the world here in the Diocese of Newark and it's very, very exciting for all of them," he said.