Members of Ottawa’s Catholic community said they’re pleased with the selection of Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis.
White smoke billowed from a Sistene Chapel chimney in the middle of Wednesday afternoon, sending many Catholics to St. Patrick’s Basilica on Ottawa’s Kent Street.
"My sister called me and told me," said Brenda Leonce, who was at work in Hull at the time.
"I was happy, and I said ‘Oh my goodness! They elected a new Pope ... I have to get into church to pray.’"
Lise Johnston said she showed up at St. Patrick’s a few minutes after the news broke.
"They said it would take about 40 minutes before they had a name, but I was so happy about that I came here immediately to pray for him," she said.
Father Tim McCauley is a member of the Archdiocese of Ottawa who is on a three-month sabbatical in Rome.
He said he was in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City when the new Pope first appeared.
"You see the smoke come up, so you know we have a pope ... and then when he came out and they announced Cardinal Bergoglio, everyone was silent," McCauley said.
"They were happy, but a bit surprised.... Almost no one was expecting this."
Pope taught at Ottawa man's high school
The news wasn’t as much of a surprise on one front for Father Jorge Lopez, who watches over Sagrada Familia Parish in Old Ottawa East.
"Latin America is growing ... the churches are packed, the church is vibrant," he said. "In Europe, the church is kind of dying."
Jose Nestor Ureta works at Argentina's embassy in Ottawa and said the Pope taught him in high school.
"He was very young (but) very mature for his age," he said. "We love him very much, this is very good news for not just Argentina, but for all Latin American countries."
Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic in the Catholic church and make up almost 40 per cent of attendees.
Archbishop of Ottawa says Francis could be more outgoing
Pope Francis is both the first Pope from the Americas and the first Jesuit to hold the position.
He wasn't considered a front-runner coming into the conclave, unlike Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouelett.
Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Prendergast said in a news conference Thursday Pope Francis will likely be a different kind of leader than his predecessor.
"Pope Benedict (XVI) had his own (style) — he was a professor, wrote brilliantly and spoke eloquently," he said.
"I think this man, while he's an intellectual … his approach may be more active and may be more the kind of qualities that are present in a bishop when they go out to meet the people.
"They say also Benedict was a shier person, (Francis) seems to be more of a spontaneous person who seems to engage and like people."
Pope Francis, who was elected on the fifth ballot, is set to hold his first news conference in his new role on Saturday.