Seminarian’s long wait at St. Peter’s Square rewarded

| March 21, 2013 | 0 Comments
Pope Francis greets people after celebrating Mass at St. Anne Parish within the Vatican March 17. The new pope greeted every person leaving the small church and then walked over to meet people waiting around St. Anne's Gate. CNS photo / Paul Haring

Pope Francis greets people after celebrating Mass at St. Anne Parish within the Vatican March 17. The new pope greeted every person leaving the small church and then walked over to meet people waiting around St. Anne’s Gate. CNS photo / Paul Haring

Joseph Kuharski, who is from the Twin Cities, is studying for the priesthood at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. His home parish is St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony.

WHEN THE WHITE SMOKE APPEARED: I was in St. Peter’s Square; I had been in the square for nearly two hours (with the Bernardi Study-Abroad program of the University of St. Thomas) by the time the smoke went up. . . .

It first came out as blackish grey, but then everybody started yelling, “We have a pope!” After jumping up and down once or twice to celebrate, our whole group rushed up into the sea of umbrellas in front of us. It was like a stampede, until we were all packed in like sardines. People were yelling “Habemus Papam”, and then they started to chant “Vi-va il Papa!”, “Vi-va il Papa!”, “Vi-va il Papa!” (“Long live the Pope”)

The chanting started to die down as people started to talk about who it could be that was elected in such a short time — only in five [ballots]. The few of us that got separated then prayed another rosary for the new Holy Father, since we waited for over an hour before he actually came out. At various points, the crowd started to chant the Marian hymn, “Salve Regina,” which at least once was started by the Bernardi crew just up in front of us.

WHEN THE NAME OF THE NEW POPE WAS ANNOUNCED: I was shocked; no one saw it coming. I had only heard his name once before, but I had remembered hearing in general that he would be a good candidate.

Then, basic biographical information started to spread through the crowd like wildfire — like his age, former position, and his defense of Church teaching. I was very encouraged to hear this and to hear that he had actively combated the misguided strains of “liberation theology” in Argentina. . . .

In an interview here at the college, Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan talked about how when [Pope Francis] was elected, after coming out of the room with the cardinals, there was a line of dignitaries that wanted to meet him. He thanked them for being there, but then he asked for them to excuse him so that he could come out and greet the crowds in the square because he said he knew they had been waiting a long time in the rain. The more I heard about him, the more I admired him and thanked God for giving our cardinals the wisdom to elect such a holy man!

ELECTING AN ARGENTINIAN POPE: shows how important the Church of Latin America is for the future of the Church. Along with the upcoming World Youth Day in Buenos Aires, the Catholic hierarchy recognizes that this is a battleground for the faith, since Catholics have often been led away from the faith.

CATHOLICS CAN EXPECT FROM POPE FRANCIS: a holy, humble man who will lead the Church in continuity with the legacy of Bishop Emeritus of Rome, Benedict XVI, and our previous popes. I think he will continue to lead the charge in the new evangelization, perhaps with a particular emphasis on matters of social justice. As archbishop, he spent a great deal of time in the slums and had a special place in his heart for the poor, the infirm and the unborn. In his own gentle and humble way, I think he will bring a message of conversion, not merely to the curia, but to all of us, since we all need it.

It seems that the exercise of his leadership will primarily be by his deeds. Yesterday, immediately after asking our Blessed Mother to bless his papacy at Santa Maria Maggiore, he stopped by the Casa del Clero where he was staying to personally pay his bill. I heard he did this to give an example to other bishops and cardinals, to be prompt in paying bills and to shun any special treatment.

FOR ME PERSONALLY: This might seem like an exaggeration, but in a spiritual sense, it is like I have a father again. I’ll look up to this father not only for his teaching, when I hear him nearly every week at the Angelus, but also in simply how he lives his life. I certainly felt like something was missing in my spiritual life during the “Sede Vacante,” especially since there was no current Holy Father to pray for.

AS FAR AS THE NEW POPE’S TRACK RECORD: I was very happy to hear about his uncompromising defense of Church teaching, both in regards to issues in the secular culture as well [to] the Church hierarchy in Argentina. I was very glad to hear that his great efforts in matters of social justice had the issues of unborn life front and center.

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Category: Welcome Pope Francis