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Joliet Diocese gathers to celebrate installation of Pope Francis

The Most Rev. R. Daniel ConlBishop Joliet blesses altar beginning Mass for Pope Francis Cathedral St. Raymond Joliet Tuesday March

The Most Rev. R. Daniel Conlon, Bishop of Joliet, blesses the altar at the beginning of the Mass for Pope Francis at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet Tuesday, March 19, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 21, 2013 6:52AM



Local Catholics celebrated the official installation of Pope Francis on Tuesday night with a celebration Mass led by Bishop R. Daniel Conlon and a number of area priests and deacons.

Nearly 50 priests and deacons from the Joliet Diocese led Bishop Conlon down the aisle of St. Raymond’s in a Mass filled with faith, hope and excitement. Conlon prayed for Pope Francis and his journey in leading the Catholic church and he spoke about the signs he sees in electing Pope Francis.

“Many nice things have been said about Pope Francis. He was elected, and something struck me in particular, the election of the first pope of the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere, it struck me that this was a sign, a recognition of the true global nature of the church,” Conlon said. “The election of the pope from Argentina, from South America, from the Americas, is a very visible sign of that universality.”

Pope Francis officially took the helm of the Catholic Church on Tuesday. The Argentine native is the first pope from Latin America and the first named for the 13th century friar St. Francis of Assisi, whose life’s work was to care for nature, the poor and the most disadvantaged.

Dawn Howard, 48, of Lockport, thinks the idea of the celebration Mass in honor of Pope Francis was fantastic.

“It’s a beautiful church and we’re excited to be here,” Howard said. “We don’t get to come very often and I think it’s a great way to unite the Catholics behind the new pope.”

Wendy Mammosser, 51, of Plainfield, said it is an exciting time for the Catholic Church.

“I’m excited,” Mammosser said. “I’m putting faith and trust they picked a good guy to carry on our faith and lead all of us. I’m excited to see what he has in store for us.”

Patricia Onyenemecu, 48, of Crest Hill, said she was thankful for the celebration Mass.

“I came to thank God for a colored church, for Pope Francis and for the Jesuits,” she said.

Michael Waninski, 27, of Frankfort, watched the installation of Pope Francis on television earlier in the day and watched the coverage of his selection last week.

“I just thought it was cool. There were hundreds of thousands of people there. I wasn’t able to be there in Rome, so I thought if I came it was like a Mass of my own,” Waninski said.

Contributing: AP



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