It wasn’t just like being in Rome, but the enthusiasm was there.
And some of them might even know who Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of Argentina, is.
When the white smoke escaped from the Sistine Chapel chimney just after 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, March 13, the students at Assumption Regional Catholic School were waiting to be dismissed. When Principal Mary Ellen Schurtz told them a new pope had been elected, they erupted with joy.
“They were so excited because it was all brought to them for the last two days,” Schurtz said. “I had to tell them to calm down.”
And that was before anyone even knew who the pope was going to be. Chances are, once the church revealed Bergoglio’s identity, at least a few students knew a little bit about the new head of the Catholic Church without consulting the Internet or an Encyclopedia.
The students were directed to adoptacardinal.org, where each one was given a cardinal to keep in their prayers throughout the process, Schurtz said.
“Over 500,000 people went to that website to learn a little about all the cardinals,” Schurtz said.
When Pope Benedict XVI resigned last month, Schurtz said the school could use this moment as a teaching opportunity for the students, and that’s what it did.
For the last two days, the school brought the entire process to the children via live stream on the school’s smart boards of the various news channels.
“The children watched the cardinals walk in, take their oaths,” and then begin the process of electing a new pope, Schurtz said.
While some of the children may know who the new pope is, not everyone will know all the details. They’ll begin that lesson on Thursday.
“The cardinal who was elected will take a new name, and we’ll discuss why he chose the name he did,” Schurtz said. “There’s always a reasoning behind the name. We’ll talk about who he is and where he’s from. That’ll all be on their smart boards.”