When exciting moments in history happen, we often share “where were you when” stories. And on March 13, one of those exciting moments happened.

Less than two weeks after Benedict XVI became the first pope in more than 600 years to resign, the world witnessed another set of “firsts” with the election of the new pope: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the first Pope Francis, the first pope from the Jesuit order of the church and the first pope from South America. 

Throughout Wednesday, we were gathering people's “where were you when” stories as we went out and reported.

Religious studies professor Chip Callahan was in his office, and he watched the announcement on his computer.

Fr. Thomas Saucier, pastor of the St. Thomas More Newman Center, was just sitting down to lunch when he got a text from someone about the new pontiff. 

Fr. Herb Hayek of Sacred Heart Catholic Church mentioned the new pope at the beginning of daily mass on Wednesday evening, and one woman there said that was when she heard the news.

Students at Fr. Tolton Catholic High School were in class, and as soon as the white smoke went up over the Sistine Chapel, signaling that a pope had been elected, the day turned into a celebration. 

What about you? Where were you when you heard there was a new pope? Did you watch the announcement? How did you first hear the news?

We'd love to hear your “where were you when” story! (And no, you don't have to be Catholic to tell it.)

Leave us a quick note about your experience in the comments section below.

6 Comments

  1. I was on my computer, looking for news as a way to procrastinate grading students’ papers. Loved the announcement in Latin – I just KNEW those 4 years of High School Latin weren’t wasted!

  2. Jacob Steimer

    I was in Spanish class when the new pope’s identity was revealed. When I felt my phone buzz, I knew that I was about to find out who the new pope was. I was really excited to learn his name, and I was even more excited when I started finding out about him. Today was an exciting day for Christianity.

  3. I was at lunch when I found out that white smoke had been spotted at the Vatican. I then proceeded to go back to my room and take a nap for two and a half hours. When I woke up, I went online and learned that Pope Francis had succeeded Benedict. I am very interested to see how this newcomer to the papal office affects the Church and the world.

  4. Cristina Alexander

    I was in the Journalism Institute when they announced the white smoke and immediately tuned into CNN, who luckily had the live stream going. Unfortunately, I had to leave for class, but was following on twitter anxiously waiting the announcement. After the announcement, I was happy to see that history had been made with a new Pope: he was not European! Being Latin myself, it is definitely a proud moment and an exciting one historically as well. Fun fact: he only has one lung!

  5. I was at home for lunch, frantically searching for ways to fix an annoying glitch in one of our systems’ wiring. Sitting on the phone on hold, I read the news of white smoke but had to wait until later in the evening to learn the new pope’s identity.

  6. Kelsey Gillespy

    I was glued to my TV like many other Catholic Americans! And after reading Brother Wesley’s piece, it sounds like a lot of Italians were doing the same thing!

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