At Eastside Catholic School, you might call this their version of the Oscars. Not watching to see who would take best picture, but who would step 'into' the picture, as their new leader.

This is a great day in the history of the church and, really, the world, said Father William Heric, Eastside Catholic s Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry.

Pope Francis is the first pontiff from the Americas, and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium.

I was thrilled. And that was actually my hope that the Cardinals would be open to someone beyond the European church, said Heric.

In Miss O'Sullivan's religion class-- history just became a lot more present. It s like the first time I ve been old enough to understand what it means to pick a new pope, said junior Kristin Mikolajewski.

Students had been watching that smoke stack along with the rest of the world, wondering who would step out onto the central balcony over St. Peter s Square, and when.

I was surprised, I didn t know it would be so soon, and really happy, said junior Vanessa Munoz.

They paused to offer prayers for Pope Francis-- who assumes leadership of a catholic church challenged by its own policies and politics.

He s coming into a church in need of healing, no doubt about it, said Heric.

Heric also says the name Francis is a fitting choice. The patron saint of Eastside Catholic is St. Francis of Assisi.

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