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.)

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