Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tenemos Papa!

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis
Formerly Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina) gently joked that the Cardinal Electors had gone practically "to the ends of the earth" to find the new pope. Then, led us in prayers for Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI and then humbly ask for us to pray for him, before blessing all those gathered in St. Peter's Square and listening all over the world.

I work in a bilingual Spanish/English parish and happened to be at work when the conclave ended yesterday with the election of Pope Francis.

It was quite a thrill to be there in the Parish Office as white smoke poured out of the Sistine Chapel's chimney.  The head of Latino ministries and the secretary immediately sent out broadcast texts to their families and friends saying, "Tenemos papa" (which means, "We have a pope.")

A few moments later, the Latino ministries head started laughing hysterically. She couldn't even speak she was laughing so hard. When she could breathe again she explained she had just received a text from her friend, a volunteer in the local food pantry, who had replied, "No, only bread and lentils."

The word for potatoes in Spanish is "papas".  Her friend thought she was asking if there were any potatoes in the food pantry.

At this, the secretary dissolved into giggles.  She re-texted her family in English to tell them "We have a Pope!" She had been wondering why none of them had replied to her text. When her husband arrived at the office he was laughing, too. "I thought you were asking if we had some potatoes at home and I thought, I don't know!  I thought we were talking about dinner!"

By the time Pope Francis was announced, practically the entire staff and many volunteers were in our little office huddled around the computer monitor watching the live feed from Vatican News. Since there was no translation and the sparse commentary was in Italian, it helped a great deal to have our pastor, who speaks Italian, Spanish and Latin (among other languages) to translate for us.

You can only imagine the open-mouthed shock and then unbridled joy at the news of a Latino Pope.

When Pope Benedict XVI resigned, my brother opined that something big was about to happen. I told him, yes, something big is going to happen and it will be something nobody expects because the Holy Spirit is in charge.

In matters of Faith, always expect the unexpected.

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