Wichita Falls area Catholics express joy at papal election

By Jenara Kocks Burgess

Correspondent

Catholics in Wichita Falls expressed overwhelming joy upon seeing white smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel and the subsequent announcement that the new pope is the first one from the Americas — Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is the first pope to take the name Francis.

“I’m very excited,” said Fr. Jack McKone, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Wichita Falls. “I think it’s wonderful. We’re joking that it’s like he’s our neighbor, even though Buenos Aires — I just Google mapped it — is only 400 miles closer to us than Rome is,” he laughed.

“There are a lot of Hispanics in our diocese. They’ve got to be ecstatic — very excited. It’s going to be very exciting, I think, in a good way,” Fr. McKone said.

Fr. McKone used to be a missionary in Central America. He said although he did go to Bolivia once on a brief mission trip, which is “next door” to Argentina, he has never been to Argentina.

Deacon Anastasio Perez of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Wichita Falls said the parish staff members watched the announcement as soon as they heard about the white smoke.

“I’m just happy we have a pope before we celebrate Easter,” said Deacon Anastasio Perez of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Wichita Falls. “We’ve been praying for him, and we hope he is praying for us. We’re so happy.”

Liliana Samuelson, who has been a parishioner of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Wichita Falls since 1993, said she is very happy the pope is from Argentina because she is a cradle Catholic from Columbia.

“We’ve never had a pope from Latin America,” she said. “My mother called me, my children called me, and my sister called me. We were all rejoicing! It’s a pope that has lived all his life in Argentina. We have such different issues from Europe, America, Central America and Mexico because our culture is different. We have political issues and poverty issues that are very different. He is aware of all of that because he has worked with the poor throughout his priesthood. We are very happy that he knows all of that, and that he will be helping us with these issues,” said Liliana Samuelson.

She also said it is very special to the people of South America that the pope chose the name Francis.

“St. Francis is one of the saints that we Latin Americans love so much because we have so many poor people in our countries. He took that name, and we’re so grateful for that too,” Samuelson said.

“I think we were rejoicing that the Holy Spirit worked through them (cardinals in the conclave,) and the surprise of having a South American for the first time,” she said.

Catholics in Wichita Falls expressed overwhelming joy upon seeing white smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel and the subsequent announcement that the new pope is the first one from the Americas — Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is the first pope to take the name Francis.

Published