Rochester, NY - Even before they knew his name, Rochester
area Catholics prayed for the conclave process and the leader who would emerge.
“We’re really excited. We’ve been watching every night,” said Jean Smith of Farmington. “We watched the black smoke come out last night and hoped for white smoke.”
Jean and her husband, Jerry, hoped the face they would see on the balcony of the Vatican would belong to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.
Carol Oliver wasn’t so sure. “It won’t be an American Pope, not in my lifetime,” she said.
Several dozen people gathered at Sacred Heart Cathedral to pray and to pray for their new leader. “We pray for the Pope,” said Fr. Pius Pathmarajah during the service.
Pope Francis is described as unassuming, an advocate of service to the poor and of simple living.
Fr. William Graf of St. John Fisher said he had hopes the next Pontiff would hold that world view as well.
“I am looking for a Pope that has the sense of the people, of care and concern. Of someone who wants to be the servant,” he said.
The new Pope takes over at a pivotal time for the Catholic Church, especially here in the Rochester area. Catholics make up the largest religious group here, at 250-thousand, yet their numbers have fallen 24 percent from 10 years ago.
Even here at this single congregation in Rochester, those who were united in the prayers of their faith are also deeply divided on the church’s future.
“I think we have to get a little more modernized for the younger people,” said Lillian Scarantino. “We have to get the young people back into church.”
“In my opinion we need to stick to our traditional Catholic values and not be led astray,” said Dave Smith of Farmington.
“I think he will have to make decisions, then state his position because that is the position of the church and we will follow him,” said Gene Oliver.