TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- As the whole world watched the white smote rise in Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City, signaling a new pope, Catholics in Topeka were celebrating as well.
People at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Holy Family Catholic School tell 13 News they feel a connection with Pope Francis, and hope he will unite Catholics worldwide.
Pope Francis is the ultimate sign of faith for Catholics, and for Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioners, this election in particular carries special meaning.
Father Oswaldo says the people were surprised to find out it was Jorge Mario Bergoglio. "I think they will be very happy and proud about this," he said. "They were like, 'maybe this time we'll have a Latino,' and so we have a Latino. So for us it means a lot."
Pope Francis is from Argentina. This give the parish's mostly Hispanic congregation more to connect to as Catholics.
Marcario Torrez is a member of the church and the 8th grade Confirmation class teacher. "It's kind of interesting that we would have a Latino pope," he said, "I think that'll bring a lot of enjoyment around here."
The Augustinian nuns of the parish feel the cardinals made a good choice, because of Pope Francis' reputation as a humble man.
"That's what we need, someone who is interested in the whole world, not just one section of the country," Sister Maria Luz said.
They're hoping the pope will help Catholics grow.
Sister Juanita Banuelos still can't believe it. "He'll do a good job, and the people have really welcomed him as well as we have."
Sister Rebecca said the children she teaches were praying just as hard as the sisters were. "What kind of pope do we need? One of the children said, 'a holy man,' and I think that's exactly what we need and I think that's what we have here," she said.
In mass, a prayer is said for the new pope marking the special day.
Father Oswaldo thinks Pope Francis will be an influential role model not just for those in Latin America, but Catholics everywhere.
"It's amazing. For all of us, I think, for all Catholics, this means a lot to us."
Pope Francis, is the first pope ever from the New World, and chose his name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, known for his work for the poor.