MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) While crowds cheered at St. Peter's Square with announcement of a new pope Wednesday, Catholics across the Gulf Coast are celebrating as well.
Local 15 News was with Mobile Archbishop Thomas Rodi as he watched Pope Francis address Catholics in Rome.
Mobile residents could hear the bells of Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception echo through Downtown Mobile as the news quickly traveled to the Port City.
Father Mateusz Rutzik dedicated the Wednesday evening Mass at St. Dominic Church to the new Argentinean pontiff. Rutzik said he shares the excitement of the Argentinean people having come from Poland where Pope John Paul II lived.
"It's great joy that there is somebody from among us," Rutzik said. "Somebody who we know, speaks our language, who knows our problems, our culture."
Fr. Christopher Viscardi, the theology department chair of Springhill College, said the first pope of the Americas was somewhat of a dark horse among the papal candidates.
"You'll find cardinals, you'll find some Latin Americans," Viscardi said referencing the Jesuit publication America Magazine. "You won't find his name, you won't find any Jesuits!"
Viscardi said it is joyful news for the Jesuit Springhill College, though Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, a jesuit, chose the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, who was the founder of the Franciscan Order of Priests.
"He was very committed to the poor and to simple lifestyle," Viscardi said, "and Francis of Assisi is the model, the icon of simplicity and poverty."
Ethelyn Rainosek, a parishioner of St. Dominic Church, said she was surprised by the speed at which the College of Cardinals elected a new pope.
"He became pope so quickly," Rainosek said. "He's God's minister, and whatever changes he makes, whatever he does, I accept."
SpringHill College will celebrate a special Mass on Thursday in dedication to Pope Francis.