First Jesuit pope sparks pride at Carmichael Jesuit High School

7:28 PM, Mar 13, 2013   |    comments
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CARMICHAEL, CA - A Sacramento community is celebrating Wednesday after the Papal Conclave selected a new pope. For the first time, the new spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide is a Jesuit.

It took five ballots, but Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina is now Pope Francis I, the first pope from outside Europe in modern history. Thousands celebrated the selection outside the Vatican.

Pope Francis I is a member of the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus. The Jesuits were founded by Saint Ignatius Loyola in 1534 and are devoted to missionary and educational work.

If you live in the Sacramento region, you've heard the word before. No one was as surprised as the folks at Jesuit High School at the selection of the new pope, in part because the selection of a Jesuit was considered a longshot.

While the world waited to learn who the new pope would be, some Carmichael area high school students took a particular interest in monitoring the leading candidates.

"We did a sweet 16. We set it up with a top 16, and he didn't even show up in our final eight that we thought would be selected as pope," Jesuit High School senior Will Peters said.

That's because Peters and his classmates have been taught that members of the Society of Jesus typically don't seek high leadership roles.

"St. Ignatius did not intend for the priests, Jesuits to aspire to be in those positions, but if asked to do so, then they can," Peters explained.

"It just has plenty of influence already without having the Roman pontiff also being a member of the Society of Jesus," President of Jesuit High School Father David Suwalsky added.

Despite his surprise at the selection, Suwalsky, a Jesuit himself, said he's proud to know what it means for the new pope to have a Jesuit background.

"You're an educator. You're a retreat giver. You're a confessor. You're a priest pastor sort of thing as all of us try to be, aspire to be, so in that sense, it's exciting 'cause it just brings a different lens to the role that he'll play as the holy father," Suwalsky said.

"To me, it really reflects the values of the school that I've attended for the last four years," Jesuit High School senior Riley Harbour said.

"Here at Jesuit, I've been taught to be a man for others and very centered around service and being with the least of God's children, those who are in need, and I think that that's something that's really neat to see in a pope. There's a lot of hope there," Peters said.


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