Local Catholics celebrate election of Pope Francis

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Members of the Catholic Church in Central Pennsylvania are celebrating the election of Pope Francis after two days of the conclave.

A group of staff and students at St. Anne School in Lancaster gathered to watch the pontiff’s first address to Catholics around the world.

“It’s a time to celebrate, it’s a time to rejoice, we have a new leader leading us,” said St. Anne Principal Suzanne Wood. “It’s just a very happy celebration.”

For a Catholic school especially, it’s also a great lesson on history in the making for students.

“They were trying to make a memory today,” said Jan Molchany, who teaches 8th graders at St. Anne School. “Let’s remember this, let’s remember where we were and what we were doing when the pope was elected.”

Bishop Joseph McFadden of the Diocese of Harrisburg said the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina as leader of the Catholic church speaks volumes.

“I think it’s acknowledgement that the Catholic Church is more than just a European religion,” McFadden said. “That it encompasses the whole world.”

Many Catholics said the new pope, and his message of coming together as brothers and sisters, is just what the church needs right now.

“Our hope is, is that we celebrate the unity of our Catholic faith,” Wood said. “We are all Catholics, we are all one and we just join together in unity and celebration.”

Local celebrations are being planned to honor Pope Francis.

On Friday, a noon mass will be held in St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg.