Local Catholics celebrated the news of Pope Francis' election on Wednesday.
A number of parishioners were gathered at the Archdiocese of Atlanta when the new pope's name was revealed. The crowd cheered and clapped when Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio made his first appearance. He chose the name Pope Francis.
Many said they were surprised by the election of the first-ever Latin American.
"I didn't expect it. I was totally surprised. My hope was that it would be a Latin American and when they came out with that, I was floored," said parishioner Kat Doyl. "Because I really did kind of think it was going to go back to the Italians, so when they said that, I don't know, I was kind of floored."
Atlanta Bishop Luis Zarama, himself from Latin America, said the new pope has many priorities to address.
"I think this pope, coming from Latin America, will give a great opportunity to be and feel close to him," said Zarama.
At the largely-Hispanic congregation at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Atlanta, the selection was a point of pride.
"Well, I was really happy because we had a pope now, and well, it made me happier since he was Latin," said Carolina Torres.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church will be holding a mass in Spanish at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
Some said that they hoped that the new pope's name will be a reflection on his priorities. Zarama said that he selected the name after St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his humble ways.
"I'm hoping that the new pope will increase the knowledge of the poor and the needs of the poor," said Jim Skehan, who heads up a St. Vincent DePaul charity group.
Many local Catholics said that the new pope from Argentina but with Italian roots may have strong universal appeal to reach out to millions and head to church in the right direction.
"I think it's very important, especially with all the, you know, church scandals and things that have been going on, it's another way of bringing these people together and telling them that there is somebody there for them," said Pamela Pagano.
At the first glimpse of white smoke, Children at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Buckhead crammed into their monsignor's office, eagerly awaiting their first glimpse of the new pope.
Even before the name of Pope Francis was announced, students and parents hung a banner bearing the papal colors so it could greet parishioners as they came to their first mass since being introduced to their new leader.
"I was at my office, live streaming it on like four different channels. All my colleagues just went crazy because I started jumping up and down -- white smoke, white smoke, we have a pope," said Sarah Vabulas.
Some parishioners said they were eager to learn more about Pope Francis, who they say was a surprising choice.
Others believe they got a glimpse into his character as he addressed the faithful outside St. Peter's.
"He's very humble…very joyful. The first thing he did was ask the people to pray over him. And to me that was just a great act of humility," said Ann DiGiorgio.
Some people burst into tears at the announcement.
"I am a convert, and so the first time that I saw someone become pope, I was a middle school student just like my two daughters, and it was such a neat experience, even then. So to sit here and see this event with my three children was wonderful," said Heather Jones.
Many parishioners said they are grateful the decision was made quickly.
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