Local Catholics say they're happy a new pope was elected so quickly. The announcement came down just before the noon mass at St. John's Cathedral in downtown Fresno. Bishop Armando Ochoa said Wednesday afternoon that Pope Francis will appeal to the Hispanic population in America, which makes up one third of Catholics.
Bells rang out for several minutes at St. John's Cathedral, following the news that a pope has been elected.
"It's just such a joyful time. I'm just very excited," said Mary Pat Larralde, who attended noon mass.
While much of the world waited to hear who the new pontiff would be, dozens of Fresno Catholics attended mass. While they were in prayer, word came down that the new leader of over a billion Catholics is Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina. He'll go by the name, Pope Francis.
Bishop Ochoa said he's pleasantly surprised. He feels a Latin American will bring some straying Catholics back to the church.
"A Hispanic presence worldwide is not only an area of prayerful concern, but an area of concern, what can we do more to welcome?" said Ochoa.
On Monday, the Bishop said he hoped for a more youthful pope this time around. Francis is 76, but Ochoa is careful not to pass judgement.
"I really and truly believe that the Holy Spirit guided the college of cardinals to pick the right man for the right time," said Ochoa.
Local Catholics are overwhelmingly happy and hopeful for the future of their faith.
"Somebody from Latin America, someone who is not from Europe, maybe there'll be changes," said Alexia Baca Morgan after attending mass at St. John's.
Ochoa says he's never met Pope Francis, but he'll likely meet him in an about four years during a scheduled "State of the Union" type event in Rome, which all bishops are invited to attend.