ShareThis Page

Installation of Pop Francis celebrated by Lower Valley church leaders

| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
The Rev. Jospeh Keenan speaks to congregation after serving mass at St. Pio of Pietrelcina Parish in Blawnox.

Catholic school students celebrated the installation of Pope Francis on Tuesday with a day off school.

Religious leaders, too, throughout the Lower Valley appear to already have an affection for the new Holy Father — even without an excused day off.

“I'm very excited,” said the Rev. Thom Miller, pastor of St. Joseph Church in O'Hara, of the appointment of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires to leader of the Catholic Church.

“I'm surprised they picked a guy 76 years old, since most people are retiring by that age. But I really think he's ready for the job,” Miller said, adding with a laugh, “I guess it takes me out of the running.”

Pope Francis, who has spent nearly his whole career in Argentina, is the first non-European pope in a century. He was elected last week after the resignation of Pope Benedict, who also made news for being the first to leave the job in 600 years.

Pope Francis is also the first Jesuit and the first named Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, a friar who is famed for helping the poor.

Miller said the choice of name couldn't be more appropriate, because the new pope is said to be humble and shows a desire to be among the people.

“They couldn't have picked a better person,” Miller said. “He doesn't have a big bold cross, just a simple one that he used as Bishop of Buenos Aires. He's just so simple.

“He gave up his mansion for a small apartment. He rides with people in buses,” Miller said.

“He told people he wanted mercy and compassion shown to people and I think we will see something marvelous from this.”

The Rev. Joe Keenan, pastor of St. Pio Pietrelcina, said he also is elated with the choice of new pope.

Keenan gets a sense that Pope Francis is a down-to-earth man, he said.

“I am delighted with the choice of his name,” he said.

“There are personal reasons for selecting the name and it indicates the kind of pastor he will be.

“I think he's a heartwarming fellow who will do tremendous work for the world.”

Miller noted that prior to Pope Francis giving his first blessing to the public, he asked that they all bless him.

“We really see the kind of man he is,” Miller said. “The doctrine won't change but the tone, flavor and resonance will.”

Miller said people should be grateful to Pope Benedict for being wise and kind enough to retire if his health couldn't sustain the demands of the role.

Bishop David Zubik, of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, announced that Catholic schools would close on Tuesday in honor of the new pope's installation and invited all people to join in prayer that day to celebrate.

“Our new Holy Father brings with him the experience of a dedicated pastor who has served the church so well,” Zubik said.

“That experience, and the rock-steady faith that has guided him, will be his comfort and strength in the challenging days ahead.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.