OKC Catholics Rejoice For New Pope

Wednesday, March 13th 2013, 10:42 pm
By: News 9

Pope Frances I now represents 1.4 billion people throughout the world, including roughly 200,000 Oklahomans who identify as Catholics.

Many Oklahoma Catholics are celebrating the election with special Masses. Earlier Wednesday evening, Catholics prayed for the Holy Father at the Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church in far northwest Oklahoma City.

It has, indeed, been a special day for Catholics of all backgrounds, but for Hispanic Catholics, it's been a day of great pride. On Oklahoma City's south side, Hispanic neighborhoods were full of joy.

"It's an honor to us," Hispanic Catholic Natalie Pledez said. "It's something big."

3/13/2013 Related Story: Archbishop Of Buenos Aires Selected As Pope

Out of the more than 260 men who have filled the chair of St. Peter, Pope Francis is the first from the "New World." It was a historic moment that the Oklahoma City archbishop said came as a wonderful surprise.

"This is quite significant," Archbishop Paul Coakley said. "This is the first non-European pope in the 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church."

Just down the hall from Coakley's office, decorations were draped above a chapel doorway as churches throughout the state also prepare for days of rejoicing.

Rev. Roberto Quant is the pastor of Oklahoma City's largest Hispanic Catholic church. He says the new pope will offer a different perspective than his European predecessors, while offering a strong connection to the Church in Europe, the Americas and throughout the world.

Celebratory Masses will continue Thursday, including one at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help near NW 30th and Western.