Sammamish Catholic community excited about new pope

March 14, 2013

By Ari Cetron

New: March 14, 2:20 p.m.

The Rev. Kevin Duggan, pastor at Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church, is the first to admit he’s not very familiar with the new Pope Francis, but he’s still excited about him.

Duggan noted the new pope has a reputation for living simply and reaching out to the poor in his home country of Argentina.

“I was really pleased the cardinals had selected someone with those characteristics in his own life,” Duggan said.

Duggan said he was also excited about the prospect of having a pope who is not from Europe, and who is the first Jesuit pope.

“It represented the cardinals were thinking more broadly,” Duggan said.

Rich Shively, parish administrator at Mary, Queen of Peace, agreed, noting that 42 percent of Catholics worldwide are from Latin America.

“That had to occur to the cardinals, you would think.”

Shively also noted that this pope has a reputation for reaching out to the poor, and, at the same time, preserving many church traditions.

Students at Eastside Catholic shared in the excitement, said the Rev. William Heric, priest at the school. As the conclave began, they had put the faculty on notice that the school would want to allow students to participate in seeing the new pope once he was named.

When he was first announced and came out to greet the public, the school was able to stream the video live into every classroom.

The students, he said, also share in the excitement of the selection of a pope from outside of Europe, and feel connected to having a pope from the same hemisphere.

While it remains to be seen what changes, if any, the new pope will usher in, Heric who also works in other churches around the region, said locally, things are likely to remain the same for the time being. He and other Catholics will continue to spread the gospel and help in the community.

“The work on the ground, I don’t think, changes,” he said.

Heric noted that the name Francis has particular meaning for the Eastside Catholic community. The school’s patron saint is Saint Francis of Assisi – the same man from whom the pope drew inspiration for his name.

Duggan also noted Francis of Assisi as a possible inspiration. The historical Francis was renowned for helping the poor, Duggan said, and he noted that the new pope has spent a lot of time helping the poor as well.

Duggan noted another Francis important to Catholics was Francis Xavier, one of the first members of the Jesuit order. Duggan said that the new pope could be connecting himself to those two men and a host of other respected Catholics named Francis.

“It’s kind of like a name that, in a lot of ways, brings together a lot of themes,” Duggan said.

Duggan said that at every mass, Catholics pray for the pope, and that tradition will continue, albeit with a new name included. However he said it was too soon to say if Mary, Queen of Peace will plan anything special. He noted that Catholics are currently observing Lent and will soon celebrate Easter, so they might wait until a little later to allow time to focus on the pope himself.

Duggan said, “We want to give him his due.”

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