Naperville reflects on impact of new pontiff
By Susan Frick Carlman and Emily McFarlan Miller Sun-Times Media March 14, 2013 4:09PM
Office staff and students watch a broadcast of the new pope at All Saints Catholic Academy in Naperville on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 16, 2013 4:02PM
Naperville residents are still buzzing about the election Wednesday of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, as pope.
Bergoglio, who has taken the name Pope Francis I, is the first pope from the church’s Jesuit order and the first pope from the Americas. His election comes after another first: Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down as pontiff.
Most of the Catholic churches in Naperville had messages on their web sites welcoming the new pope. St. Thomas the Apostle Church was able to acknowledge the new head of the church in style. The church had already planned a special service Wednesday evening in honor of St. Patrick with the West Suburban Irish group. The event was also made into an opportunity to celebrate Pope Francis’ selection.
The Rev. Dennis Lewandowski, pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Community in southeast Naperville, was pleased with the selection.
“I really kind of expect him to be a real transformational leader for our church,” he said.
As both the first Jesuit and the first South American named pope, his style may be influenced by those factors, he said.
“He certainly seems to be a man of compassion who will be of service to the oppressed and downtrodden,” Lewandowski said.
He said that Pope Francis I may end up being a different ponfitt than his predecessor.
“I think maybe he will bring a freshness and a newness that Benedict was trying to get out,” he said.
The selection of the new pope was a great teaching moment at All Saints Catholic Academy in Naperville, said Principal Sandy Reneha.
“We’re so excited,” she said. “Our superintendent is a Jesuit, so we’re thrilled for him.”
Also, having a non-European heading the Vatican might open new possibilities for the church, Reneha said.
“I think this allows our church to have a full global community,” she said.
It was fun waiting out his emergence on the balcony in Rome on Wednesday afternoon, she said.
“We were sitting there, hanging for that door to open. The kids were so excited,” she said.
The school had been studying the whole process of naming the new pope. It had a “conclave” on Saturday with the junior high students, some of whom were attired in full red robes like the cardinals who named the new pope.
“They got educated about each of the candidates, none of which were from Argentina, interestingly. I don’t think anyone saw that coming,” she said. “We’ve been very much excited for this. It has provided a great teachable moment.”