As the sea of reda flowed into the conclave to be sealed until the moment the Holy Spirit produced a new leader, the faithful at St. Joseph’s Home in Louisville watched and prayed with the rest of the world. The Residents, staff and of course the Little Sisters were all eagerly awaiting the news on Wednesday. They could not help but take a peak at the recreation room’s TV, as they passed by to see if the big announcement was close. The Sisters and staff continued their work of taking care of the needs of the Residents and the routine of their day. But the day was anything but ordinary and the excitement in the air was proof of that.
For the residents of St. Joseph’s Home this is not the first time they had waited for the Cardinals to send a sign of a new leader, most remember when Pope John the XXIII emerged onto the balcony to greet St. Peter’s Square and the millions of his flock.
As they continued to watch the TV, several shared their memories of past Pontiffs. Elizabeth remembered meeting Pope Paul VI when he was a Cardinal and she was a freshman in college. She said she had the privilege of attending Mass at the Vatican for six weeks when she visited Rome. Klaus, who taught German and French at Trinity High School for 39 years, shared that he had also visited the Vatican twice. The recreation room at St. Joseph’s Home started to gradually fill as time crept close for the next vote and the Residents, volunteers and staff continued to share their stories.
Suddenly over the intercom, Mother Chantel’s excited voice proclaims the announcement everyone had been waiting for “a new Pope has been elected,” then with the spirit of the Little Sisters, she lead the Home in the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving.
“It was lonely without a Pope,” was Elizabeth’s comment as she attentively watched the white smoke pour out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
It is no longer lonely, Elizabeth; the church has a new Father, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina … Pope Francis, the successor of St. Peter is home.