Yumi Gat Papa! (Habemus Papem)

Early Thursday morning, about 4am PNG time, I hear Br. Jim’s quick steps along the friary veranda.

“White smoke!  We got white smoke!”, he calls out.pope-1

I knew that he had planned to get up at 3am to check the results of the evening votes of the conclave (Wednesday Rome time), so it wasn’t unexpected to hear some sort of report from him.

So, I jumped out of bed and made my way over to our TV room, soon joined by Nate, our other CapCorps volunteer, and Fr. Peter Meis, the Capuchin Vice Provincial who happened to be visiting St. Fidelis for a few days.

Much like the rest of the world, we watched the white smoke pouring from the Sistine Chapel and the crowd gathering in St. Peter’s Square, anxious to know who the cardinals had elected as the new pope.

When the announcement was made from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, we didn’t quite hear it clearly, except for the name “Francis.”  We had to wait for some more minutes until the new pope came forward.

It was thrilling to learn that a cardinal from the Americas had been chosen and someone who has had such connection to the poor of his country.  The Capuchin Franciscans here were pleased and excited to know that he had chosen “Francis.”

Not more than 45 minutes after Pope Francis was introduced to Rome and the world, we joined the seminarians for their 6am Morning Prayer and Mass, and were able to inform them of the election of their new pope.

Although we didn’t have much information at that point, the students were understandably excited and  cornered us after Mass, full of questions:

  • Where is he from?
  • What is he like?
  • Is he white or black?
  • Why doesn’t PNG have a cardinal?
  • Wasn’t this a quick election?
  • Will he visit PNG?

Later that day, I had the opportunity to show the Propaedeutic students the first episode of Fr. Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” series.  If you’re familiar with that episode, “Amazed and Afraid”, there’s a scene near the end from the election of Pope Benedict XVI.   It was very fortunate to be able to share that particular episode with the students and to explain that that was very similar to what had just happened in Rome with our new Pope Francis.

So like the rest of the Catholic world, we’re all learning and sharing everything we can of our new pontiff.

Just as I have very vivid memories of the last days of Blessed John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict, I’ll always remember waiting for and watching the election of Pope Francis from our little outpost on the north coast of Papua New Guinea.


7 thoughts on “Yumi Gat Papa! (Habemus Papem)

  1. That must have been very special! And it’s wonderful to be able to use the Conclave moments as a teaching tool. For me, it was very special to have followed Fr. Roderick’s podcasts and videos through the entire process, and he is still the same guy with the infectious enthusiasm that shone forth very clearly in his voice and in his appearance in sound and video. I’m sure one of us will ensure you get CDs of the audio… and can perhaps work out a way to get the videos to you as I understand streaming these things might be difficult. Fr. Roderick’s Habemus Papam podcast episode was 2 hours long (110+ MB file)!!!

    • For now, the internet situation is hopeless for podcasts and online videos. I tried to watch Fr. Roderick’s “Habemus Papem” video and could only get the first 1 1/2 minutes until Youtube stopped responding. I know that a package from Capt. Jeff with some past podcasts is on the way here. Maybe he’ll be able to include some of those videos in a future mailing. It would be great to share those with the seminarians.

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