JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Millions watched as Cardinal JorgeBergoglio 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 itswhite smoke watch shortly after the 115 Cardinals met at the Vatican Tuesday tobegin 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 andchecked on it throughout the day."
Sister Glorea, her students and the rest of the schoolgathered Tuesday to hold a prayer service ahead of the papal conclave.
"[We] just said some prayers that the person who is supposedto be pope would be elected," she said, "and it happened."
The election of the new pope happened much sooner thananyone at the school expected, as it took the College of Cardinals only fiveballots to name Pope Benedict's successor.
"I had [the smoke watch cam] minimized because my kids wereworking on something," Sister Glorea said, "and a teacher knocked at my doorand said I think the smoke is white.
"We turned [the television] on, and that was it for the restof the day," she said. "All eyes were on the TV screen."
The students watched history unfold, which the teachers saidproved more exciting because all the students had learned about the process ofchoosing 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 somuch fun watching the kids go, 'There's the white smoke. There's the bells – doyou hear the bells?'"
The Blessed Sacrament school will now have to replace apicture of Pope Benedict hanging in its front entrance with one of his newlynamed successor. Sister Glorea and her students plan to pray for Pope Francisevery day.
"The pope is kind of like the father of our family, and it'sgood to have father there," Stoverink said. "It fills a void, so it's just agood thing that way."