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March 13, 2013

Local Catholics talk about their hopes for Pope Francis

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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The Rev. Leonard Obloy presides over morning Mass at the Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake March 13 in Orchard Lake. Many Catholics were praying for the selection of the new pope.

While top officials of the Roman Catholic Church convened thousands of miles away to elect a new pope, local Catholics said they are ready to receive his guidance.

Members of the Orchard Lake Schools campus met at the Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake March 13 to hold Mass and pray for divine guidance during the transition process.

The Vatican has announced that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, from Argentina, will be the next pope and will be known as Pope Francis I.

Before the Mass, Monsignor Thomas C. Machalski Jr. of SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary said his colleagues were praying for the cardinals who were holding private deliberations in Rome.

Those cardinals cast ballots to determine who among them should replace Pope Emeritus  Benedict XVI and lead the world’s estimated 1.2 billion professed Catholics.

The deliberation comes just weeks after Benedict XVI announced that he would be leaving his leadership role due to failing health.

Machalski said the new pope continues a long line of church leadership as the vicar of Christ on earth, starting with St. Peter, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples.

“We’re just praying that the cardinals that are going into conclave today will be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” Machalski said.

According to Machalski, an ideal 21st century pope would speak multiple languages and lead a “new evangelization” through the power of modern technologies such as computers, the Internet, and social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Orchard Lake Schools is no stranger to a papal visit. Pope John Paul II, nee Karol Wojtyla, visited the campus twice, in 1969 and 1976, though he wasn’t pope yet.

“I always remember him as a man of great simplicity … and great joy,” Machalski said. “You just knew that you were in the presence of someone who was holy.”

Patricia Zawadzki, director of advanced services at Orchard Lake Schools, described what the selection of a new pope means to her personally as a Catholic.

She described the crowds and upbeat atmosphere around St. Peter’s Basilica as exciting, but she said the new Holy Father will have many issues facing him, including evangelization and the sex abuse scandal.

“I just pray he has the spirit of Christ in his heart,” she said. “We need a pope who can hear a God who is still speaking and not just a God who spoke long ago, a pope who believes in miracles and helps us celebrate the saints that are ordinary men and women who dedicated their lives to build this church.”

Learn more about the Orchard Lake Schools campus at www.orchardlakeschools.com or by calling (248) 682-1885.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.