Pope’s election serves as teaching moment for local Catholic stu - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Pope’s election serves as teaching moment for local Catholic students

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Millions watched as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina emerged as the new pope Wednesday.

The announcement caught many faithful followers by surprise, including some local Catholic students.

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Jonesboro began its white smoke watch shortly after the 115 Cardinals met at the Vatican Tuesday to begin the process of picking a new pope.

"All the teachers had the smoke watch cam on or whatever," said Sister Glorea Knaggs, a third grade teacher. "We had it minimized and checked on it throughout the day."

Sister Glorea, her students and the rest of the school gathered Tuesday to hold a prayer service ahead of the papal conclave.

"[We] just said some prayers that the person who is supposed to be pope would be elected," she said, "and it happened."

The election of the new pope happened much sooner than anyone at the school expected, as it took the College of Cardinals only five ballots to name Pope Benedict's successor.

"I had [the smoke watch cam] minimized because my kids were working on something," Sister Glorea said, "and a teacher knocked at my door and said I think the smoke is white.

"We turned [the television] on, and that was it for the rest of the day," she said. "All eyes were on the TV screen."

The students watched history unfold, which the teachers said proved more exciting because all the students had learned about the process of choosing the newly named Pope Francis I.

"The kids knew what to watch for and what to listen for," said Carol Stoverink, the school's computer teacher and librarian. "It was so much fun watching the kids go, ‘There's the white smoke. There's the bells – do you hear the bells?'"

The Blessed Sacrament school will now have to replace a picture of Pope Benedict hanging in its front entrance with one of his newly named successor. Sister Glorea and her students plan to pray for Pope Francis every day.  

"The pope is kind of like the father of our family, and it's good to have father there," Stoverink said. "It fills a void, so it's just a good thing that way."

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