When white smoke came from the Sistine Chapel in Rome on Wednesday, the third-graders at St. Joseph Catholic School in Issaquah chimed the bell for five minutes.
The news of a new Pope was exciting for them and others around the globe, who watched as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, the son of an Italian railway worker, became the first Jesuit and first South American pontiff.
Father Todd Strange--who oversees the St. Joseph parish of 1,400 households and preK-8 school of about 350 students--watched a live stream of the event with the office staff.
The pause between the smoke, signaling the election, and the actual announcement of a new successor made for “an extended period of suspense,” Strange said.
Much of the initial news coverage focused on the humility of Bergoglio, who chose Francis as his name.
The London Guardian and National Catholic Reporter described Bergoglio as a Jesuit intellectual who travels by bus, cooks his own meals and lives simply. After being appointed cardinal in 2001, "Bergoglio persuaded hundreds of Argentinians not to fly to Rome to celebrate with him but instead to give the money they would have spent on plane tickets to the poor," the Guardian said.
“I tend to think that all the Popes are humble,” Strange said. “To be willing to do it is an act of handing oneself over.”
“In terms of how (Bergoglio’s) humility will affect us here at the school or specifically in this parish--it’s a good question. It remains to be seen. I think any model of humility is always good for us, and reminds us of, ultimately, our own call to be humble servants or humble disciples.”
A special Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Francis was planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph. The church is at 220 Mountain Park Boulevard S.W. in Issaquah.
Bergoglio originally planned to be a chemist, but began studying for the priesthood in 1958, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
In addition to his advocacy for the poor, Bergoglio believes in contraception to prevent the spread of disease, faces no questions over abuse scandals and would reform the Vatican Curia, according to the Guardian. He also strongly opposed Argentina's decision to legalize gay marriage, saying children should be raised by a father and a mother.
Shortly after he addressed the crowd at St. Peter's Square, the Vatican issued a tweet via its papal Twitter account. It said in Latin, "HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM," which translates roughly as "We have Pope Francis," according to the Los Angeles Times.
What do you think of the new Pope's selection? Tell us in the comments.