History was made on Wednesday as new Pope Francis was elected in Rome -- but close to home, McGann-Mercy students had been following the momentous process of for weeks.
After the resignation of Pope Benedict in February, Father Gerald Cestare, campus chaplain, and religion teachers took advantage of the historic period to teach and prepare the students at Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan Junior High and High School for the election of the 266thpontiff of the Catholic church.
Students worked on assignments, researching cardinals that might be eligible to become Pope, presenting their findings to their fellow classmates and to Bishop William Murphy, Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
Another highlight over the past month was the McGann-Mercy Conclave in the school’s chapel, where students and faculty prayed over their decision as to whom they felt would be best to lead the Catholic Church and cast their ballot.
On Tuesday, as black smoke first traveled up the chimney in the Sistine Chapel, the results of the McGann-Mercy Conclave were announced to the student body by Bishop Murphy, who was visiting that day.
The McGann-Mercy Conclave had elected Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan. Bishop Murphy said he would tell him of his win in the eyes of the students, should he not be selected to serve as Pope by the Papal Conclave in Rome.
Excitement mounted amongst McGann-Mercy students when the announcement was made by the Vatican via a puff of white smoke that a new Pope had been elected.
Students and faculty watched the telecast on a screen in the auditorium amonst chanting and cheers as it was announced that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been elected the 266th pope of the Catholic Church and had taken the name Pope Francis.