"How delightful it is to be surprised by grace! The election of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the papacy has brought joy, hope and renewed zeal for our church’s evangelizing mission to the hearts of so many of us. As new archbishops, we received the pallium together from Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Basilica on June 29, 1998. At the Portland Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, when news about white smoke in Rome spread throughout the building, we gathered to witness history in the making. After hearing the Holy Father’s brief message and receiving his first papal blessing, many of us gathered in the Pastoral Center Chapel to celebrate the Eucharist in thanksgiving for our new chief pastor and in support of his servant ministry on behalf of people everywhere. Everything we’ve heard about the man signals quite clearly that the Holy Spirit was at work among the cardinals during the conclave and led them to select a pope in the spirit of his new patron, St. Francis, a man with a heart for the poor, experience as a pastor and an unmistakable embrace of humble service as the very heart of church ministry. Personally, I am thrilled, but also just a bit embarrassed as I prepare to retire, when a man my age has been called upon to take on a new job! God bless you, Pope Francis. Viva il papa!"

— Archbishop John G. Vlazny

“I am overjoyed and filled with hope as we welcome Pope Francis as our new Holy Father and Shepherd of the universal Church. I pledge my fidelity to the Successor of St. Peter, and I promise my prayers for him as he begins this awesome and heavy responsibility as the spiritual leader of over 1.2 billion Catholics throughout the world.

“It is exciting to have a Holy Father who comes to us from our own hemisphere here in the Americas. It should be very interesting to see what perspective a Pope from South America will bring to the ministry of the papacy. 

“I encourage all of the Catholic faithful to open their hearts to our new Holy Father and to pray for him as he has so humbly asked us to do.”

— Archbishop Alexander K. Sample
(For a podcast of Archbishop Sample's thoughts on Pope Francis, log on to www.dioceseofmarquette.org/podcast.php)