Hispanic community celebrates Pope Francis

Pat Shea
Sun associate editor

There was smoke. There was cheering. And for Pilar Caceres, a native of Argentina, there were tears of joy.

   When Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was announced as the new pope, Caceres, a parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Syracuse, couldn’t seem to stop crying.

   “When I watched the TV and saw the white smoke, I cried. When they said the pope was from Argentina, I cried. When I heard his name, I cried and then cried some more,” laughed Caceres. “I was so proud and so happy that I just keep on crying and [cried] so much my husband finally said, ‘Stop Pilar, stop! You can’t cry so much. Stop all this crying.’”

   For Caceres and the Hispanic community throughout the world, the announcement of Pope Francis is long overdue.

   “I am so excited,” said Caceres. “He is a good person and I will be praying for him. I thank God for this.”

   Father Robert Chryst, director of the Spanish Apostolate in the Syracuse Diocese, agrees with Caceres that the choice of Pope Francis is a good one.

   “It’s a wonderful move,” stated Father Chryst. “This is obviously a holy man, and a learned man. This is someone who speaks Spanish and is familiar with the fact that most Catholics speak Spanish.”

   At St. John’s Parish in Utica, Father Luis Olguin, a native of Chile and the Coordinator of Spanish Ministries, is thankful that the cardinals chose a pope with the knowledge, experience and insight to bring greater awareness to the issue of poverty in South America.

   “In the last 30 years I think we have been losing sight of social issues,” stated Father Olguin. “Pope Francis has been directly involved in Latin American life and understands the severe poverty people are living in. He can reveal to the Universal Catholic Church that people [in South America] are suffering. He can give a voice to their problems.”

   Elle Jimenez, a native of the Domincan Republic and a parishoner at St. John’s Parish, hopes the new pope, “will  eliminate politics within the Church. I think he was chosen because of his background as a Jesuit and his expertise in theology. Being of Hispanic descent is also a big indication that the cardinals are recognizing that Catholics are from all over the world and not only Europe.”

   Caceres also looks to the new pope to also bring the unique spirit of Argentina to the people of the world.

   “I came here from Cordova, Argentina over 22 years ago,” explained Caceres. “My patron saint town was Saint Marie. I grew up in the Church there — everybody did. On Saturday and Sundays we would go to Church and after the service, the [priests] played soccer with all of us. It was so much fun. I think the new pope will be like this. He has a beautiful spirit and he is for everyone. He will help all people. He is an everybody pope.”

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