Catholics react to the naming of Pope Francis I

Published On: Mar 13 2013 07:48:42 PM HST   Updated On: Mar 13 2013 08:05:52 PM HST

Jubilation in St. Peter's Square not seen for 15 centuries because the celebratory welcome for a new pope is usually tempered by the traditional mourning for the previous pope.  But not this time.

The unique circumstances have led Jorge Mario Bergoglio to this moment have the devout hoping for a deeper connection between the Vatican and the people it pledges to serve.

"Hawaii Catholics are rejoicing not only in the naming of a new pope, but in the name he has chosen for his papacy," said Sister Davilyn Ah Chick from the Order of St. Francis.  "I'm just ecstatic because the name, being a Franciscan, for him to have chosen that name."

The Order of St. Francis is one of the oldest in the Catholic Church centered in the Tuscan hills of Italy.

Hundreds of Hawaii Catholics have made pilgrimage there because of Francis' connection to the islands.  That connection is Hansen's Disease -- leprosy.

It was a leper that inspired the young Francesco Bernadone to devote his life to the church.  It was then St. Francis who inspired Mother Marianne to come to Hawaii.

Even today, the Franciscan nurses tend to the remaining patients in Kalaupapa.

At the St. Francis motherhouse in Syracuse, N.Y., the sisters are singing the praises of the new pope in choosing their patron saint as inspiration to the world.

"And hopefully our new pontiff will carry on in the footsteps of St. Francis as well," said Sister Rosemary Hendry of the Diocese of Syracuse.

Who is the new pope?

"Serving the most needy and the poorest.  Reaching out to those with leprosy.  That was one of Francis' gifts and calls.  So, I think our Holy Father is thinking of that," said Bishop Larry Silva of the Diocese of Honolulu.

Why does a cardinal change his name when he becomes pope?

He gives up his individual identity to assume a global persona, and often wishes to honor a favorite saint or past pope.

A name change is actually not mandatory, but it's been tradition since the 16th century.


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