Jackson area Catholics say it's a very significant day - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson area Catholics say it's a very significant day

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Father O'Brien and Ebony Welch Father O'Brien and Ebony Welch
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is the new pope. Parishes in Jackson, including St. Richard Catholic Church, anxiously awaited the announcement Wednesday.

Ebony Welch said, "It's history in the making. We're all excited right now."

After two thirds of the vote, Pope Francis was announced as the new world leader. Ebony Welch, Parish staff member from St. Richard Catholic Church in Jackson said she believes she speaks for many when saying, it was a very significant day.

"It's a spiritual time for us and it's exciting. Especially during the Lenten season where we are so focused on bettering ourselves and proving our faith. It's great," said Welch.

The 76-year-old is the first ever from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. Father Mike O'Brien said while this is something special, the meaning is much deeper.

"The entire world is watching this great pageantry, but the big thing is really all about Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit," said Father Mike O'Brien. "We see that electing the Pope, the Pope is the successor of Peter carrying on the work, keeping the church united in faith."

The new pontiff was elected on the cardinals fifth attempt at a vote, and the second day of the conclave. There has not been a fifth ballot pope in more than 100 years.

Father O'Brien said this is not a new beginning, but a time of continuance for the church.

"We're continuing on the presence of Jesus in the world. The risen Christ. Church is the body of Christ and so it's a new beginning of sorts, but guided by the Holy Spirit. Keeping the church united in faith, continuing to preach the gospel," said Father O'Brien.

"It's great to turn on the news and it's the focus of everyone right now," added Welch.

The Catholic Diocese of Jackson also weighed in, Spokesperson Mary Woodward said, "This is a time of great excitement for us and also a time for many to renew their commitment to their Christian Catholic faith. We know the new pope will face many challenges as leader of the church and as a world leader. We will certainly keep him in our prayers."

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