EUGENE, Ore. — The news of the white smoke traveled fast. Faithful followers watched intently to hear the announcement of the new pope.
Earlier Wednesday, employees at St. Mary’s Catholic Church gathered in their offices, patiently waiting for the name of the new pope to be called.
Everyone filed into any room with a screen live streaming the pope selection. Even the priest stayed as long as he could before leading noon mass.
Speculation about who would replace Benedict XVI has been a hot issue since late last month. And as Cardinal Bergoglio’s name was announced, cheers in the Vatican were echoed locally.
“I’m just amazed by the whole process, and he will be a good pope. I know it, even with just the little bit that I’ve seen of him,” said Sally Ross.
Some parishioners were especially excited to hear that not only is Bergoglio the first Jesuit pope, but also the first pope to come from the Americas. And they hope the new presence will bring more into the flock and more importantly, bring those who may have strayed away back into the fold.