Local catholic schools and churches are rejoicing in the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th leader of the Catholic Church.
Bergoglio has taken the original name of Pope Francis for his leadership. North Shore priests see the choice as a symbol of Bergoglio's character and what he plans to bring to his tenure as pope given that St. Francis of Assisi was a saint who dedicated his life to humility and helping the poor.
"What I've been able to gather from his character is it's very much in the mould of Pope John Paul II," said Pastor Gregory Smith, a Catholic priest at West Vancouver's Christ the Redeemer Church.
Smith hopes the new pope will follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and focus on issues such as social justice and poverty.
Smith also said he expects administrative changes in Rome under the guidance of Pope Francis.
"I think that's more or less inevitable," he said.
However, that's not what he's most excited for.
"I believe he's going to carry such a strong spiritual leadership that he's going to engage the world," he added.
Smith was in the Vatican for the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, and said just watching Pope Francis from his home on his television has completely won him over.
But Catholic priests aren't the only ones paying attention.
Reverend Angus Stuart of St. Francis-in-the-Wood Anglican Church was excited by the decision and the selection of Francis as the name.
"It suggests to me while this pope is quite conservative, as you have to be to be a cardinal, he's actually quite radical in terms of his approach to life and preaching the gospel," said Rev. Stuart on Bergoglio's choice of name. "I think that's very refreshing."
Stuart preaches in an Anglican church, but says the selection of a new pope affects not only Catholics but all Christians.
So far, he likes what he sees.
"We've heard stories of him as the man who moved out of the cardinals' palace and into a flat and he travels by bus when he goes to work rather than a limo," Stuart said.
"It makes you think that he's someone who's not going to talk the talk, but walk the walk, and I think that's something we all need at the moment."
North Vancouver's Catholic high school, St. Thomas Aquinas, was celebrating throughout the day Wednesday when the cardinals were officially electing Pope Francis.
Principal John Campbell said the school used the rare opportunity to discuss not only the process of electing a pope, but teaching students about the impact and weight the title carries.
"It is a very teachable moment," Campbell said. "We're teaching the kids that it doesn't only affect Europe. This affects the religion. And it's not just European cardinals (in the running). There's a cardinal from Canada, one from Africa."
Televisions were set up in classrooms and the staff room as they awaited the decision. During this time, Campbell reflected on what he wanted in a new pope.
"We need a solid leader and, our church being very deep in tradition, they have to be aware of that," he said. "However, they also need to be cognizant of the way the world is turning.
"I have every faith that will happen," he added.
St. Thomas elementary also took the opportunity to teach their students about the electoral process and the school spent part of its morning Wednesday in mass to pray for their new pope.
Instead of using televisions, they had a phone app ready to let them know exactly when the white smoke would come out, indicating the election was complete, staff said.
Pope Francis is the first Latin American, and the first Jesuit and non-European pope since the Middle Ages.