PORTLAND -- Argentine Jorge Bergoglio, a former Jesuit, was elected pope Wednesday and chose the papal name Francis, becoming first pontiff from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.
Rome and the Vatican can feel a world away for many Catholics in Portland, but the fact that the new pope was a former Jesuit quickly brought the news home at Jesuit High School.
Teacher Tom Manning’s class is made up of seniors and juniors. They cheered when the official announcement came and cheered again when they realized the Pope was a former Jesuit.
“I think it’s pretty awesome that he’s a Jesuit and that he’s going to be a man for others,” student Thien Vo said.
It was an historic moment that was especially powerful for students at Jesuit High.
“Oh, it’s very cool to have a Jesuit pope. I guess it’s pride for us here at Jesuit and I guess we’re really glad with the choice,” said student Doug Brenner.
To honor the selection, Jesuit’s bells rang for five minutes Wednesday, a rare and lengthy salute to the new pope. And since it’s a Catholic school, they offered prayers for him too.
The school has Jesuit priests among its teaching staff who were quickly learning about the new Catholic leader.
“He seems like he’s very brave. He stood up to some very powerful people in Argentina and that, that’s a good sign,” said Jesuit priest JK Adams.
With more than a billion Catholics around the world, the new Argentine pope will have many challenges to confront in the coming years. But for students and staff at Jesuit High School now, it’s enough to know he’s one of them.
“I’m excited, I’m really excited. Being a Jesuit, we couldn’t ask for more,” said Jesuit teacher Fr. Paul Grubb.
(KGW reporter Pat Dooris contributed to this report.)