Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

New Pope Has Caught Public’s Imagination

The diocesan Mass of thanksgiving for the election of Pope Francis had a decidedly Hispanic tone. Celebrated at St. James Cathedral-Basilica in Downtown Brooklyn, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was joined by Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros and about 25 concelebrants.

Not only did Bishop DiMarzio preach the first part of his homily in Spanish in honor of the first pope from South America, but also the congregation was representative of many Hispanic organizations throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

About 25 members of the Cursillo movement brought their own banner to unfurl. A group of Hispanic youngsters serenaded attendees as they exited from the church out into a freak winter storm that was playing havoc with people’s commute home.

After the final blessing, Bishop Cisneros led the congregation in a thunderous chant of “Viva, El Papa!”

“The fact that the new pope is Latin American is just the icing on the cake,” said Bishop Cisneros, a native of Cuba. “But the point is that he is a good man and he’s a holy man that the Holy Spirit has given us to guide the Church.”

Loren Martinez Corona, a member of St. Agatha’s, Sunset Park, attended with several other young women from the parish. They all wore white blouses emblazoned with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“It’s a great honor” that the new pope is from South America, she said. “It shows a lot of respect toward the Hispanic community.”

“It’s been a great surprise to all of us. He is bringing in a new style,” added Msgr. Renato Grasselli, who used to work with the Neo-Catechumenal movement in Jackson Heights and now serves as rector of the Missionaries Seminary in Newark, N.J.

“I’m very impressed by his humility, his charm, and the way he comes across.”

Norberto Saldana, a Cursillista, said it was important for him to attend the service because “this is the first time that we have a Latin American Pope. This pope is so humble. He has really touched me because I’m working with the poor through the St. Vincent de Paul Society and I know this pope is working with the poor.”

Several Latino youth movements also were present, like Jovenes de Valor. Andy Cruz, one of its members, expressed the feelings of many when he said, “It was important for Latino youth to be represented and to show that we are active in the Church. I believe a renewal for the Church will happen – something brand new and fresh.”

Katherine Andrare, a member of the Neo-Catechumenal Way at St. Joan of Arc, Jackson Heights, saw the election of Pope Francis as an historic event.

“My prayer for him is that he has the wisdom to guide the church at this moment in history.”

It was a sentiment felt by the 500 people who had braved the inclement weather and come out to pray on a work night.

Bishop DiMarzio said that he was impressed and excited to watch Pope Francis make his rounds during the first week of his papacy.

“Already we see a new enthusiasm about what he has to say to us. We’re looking forward to his leadership,” said the bishop, who added that he senses “a fresh approach” to the papacy from the way in which Pope Francis has handled himself in his first days as pope.

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