Local priests praise choice of Pope Francis

Local Catholic priests say they’re excited about the choice of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new pope.

The Very Rev. Donald Czelusniak, pastor of Gloversville’s Church of the Holy Spirit and Johnstown’s Holy Trinity Church, was ecstatic about Pope Francis.

“My first reaction was joy because I thought, ‘wow, this is a Latin American and he is on our side of the hemisphere,'” Czelusniak said.

Czelusniak said the new pope’s choice of a name, St. Francis, is interesting.

Czelusniak said St. Francis of Assisi was a 13th-century Italian saint who was born rich but gave up his possessions to work for the church, developing a special relationship with the poor and reaching out to Muslims.

Czelusniak said he believes a Jesuit taking the name Francis is important to the area. Locally, the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs, run by Jesuits, is in Auriesville. The National Kateri Shrine, run by Franciscans, is in the town of Mohawk.

“Here we have … one man who represents the Franciscans and the Jesuits,” Czelusniak said.

Czelusniak said he believes Pope Francis will have what it takes to be a successful reformer in the church but said the pope would need help.

“We can’t just watch the leader … we have to be behind him,” Czelusniak said,

The Rev. Patrick Gallagher of St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Fonda and Sacred Heart in Tribes Hill said he was delighted to hear about the new pope.

“I think he was the kind of person that I thought was going to be elected,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher said he believes Pope Francis will be able to address some of the problems facing the church.

“He’ll be the pope that the church needs at [this] time,” Gallagher said.

The Rev. John Medwid of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Amsterdam was excited to hear about the selection.

Medwid described Pope Francis as a humble and spiritual man.