Tulsa Catholics gather to welcome newly elected Pope Francis

TULSA - It was business as usual at the School of St. Mary, that is until the white smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel.

Word spread quickly that a new Pope had been elected. Students gathered in front of televisions to watch the unfolding news.

"It's kind of like watching one of your favorite movies," said seventh grader Hallie Cole. "You just love it and you just want to watch it. You don't want to talk about it. You just want to watch it."

Several of the students prayed during Pope Francis' first speech and many applauded when he finished.

"I was very pleased with what he said because he looks like a good person and I feel that God called the correct person to be the Pope," said Zack Lissau, a sixth grader at the school.

Father Ernesto Calvillo, the associate pastor at the Church of St. Mary's, was in a meeting when he heard the news.

He immediately joined the students in the school.

Father Calvillo says he feels a special bond with Pope Francis because, as a Mexican, he too is a Latino.

"I'm very happy because the entire church has a Pope now," he said. "I feel a special happiness too because he's a Latino."

Parishioners at Christ the King in Tulsa celebrated the new pope's election at a Lenten mass Wednesday night.

"I'm pleased that they picked someone who's non-European. I think that's a step forward. Someone from the western hemisphere for the first time, someone from an emerging nation I think is good," said James Bode.

"I'm excited about the new pope. The fact that he's from Buenos Aires -- Latin America. Representing so much of the Catholic world," said Linda Reis.

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