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Philadelphia Area Argentinians, Hispanics React To Election Of Pope Francis

By Jenn Bernstein, Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Eighth grade students at Saint Martin of Tours School in Oxford Circle cheered, and looked on in awe as a live feed showed white smoke billowing from the smoke stack in Vatican City.

It’s a signal heard around the world and these students were able to watch see it all unfold.

“It’s nice, one day I can talk to my kids about this, that I was part of this in eighth grade class!” said student Emily Pineda.

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“It’s really amazing, I mean it’s just incredible seeing the smoke, all the people,” said student Wilson Diaz.

Teachers taught students about the secret process, they even watched a YouTube video on how the Pope is elected.

“This is an exciting experience for them,” said eighth grade teacher Chuck Pavonarius, “These kids are growing up in a digital age and here’s an example of how religion is being broadcast around the world.”

(Saint Martin of Tours 8th grade class watching white smoke. Credit: Jenn Bernstein)

(Saint Martin of Tours 8th grade class watching white smoke. Credit: Jenn Bernstein)

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It was a prideful moment when Pope Francis of Argentina was named, for two young folks Sophia Filipuvzi and Valentin Grieco.

Filipuvzi is a graduate of Saint Martin of Tours, and Greico is a seventh grader. Both are of Argentinian nationality.

“I think that the new Pope from Argentina [shows] that the Hispanic community has no limits to what we can accomplish,” said Grieco.

“It’s just so overwhelming because no one expected an Argentinian Pope to win,” said Filipuvzi “It’s just so cool.”

Word spread quickly among the Latino Community about the Roman Catholic Church’s selection of an Argentine Cardinal as the next Pope.

PHOTOS: Argentine Jorge Bergoglio Elected Pope

The Hispanic Community Counseling Services is a center that serves at least 1,500 Latino’s a week. President and CEO Hector Ayala says the four story building on Kensington Avenue was buzzing with the news.

“I’m not completely surprised about [them] choosing a Latino Pope for this new generation. As we look into the numbers, more than 70 percent of the followers in the U.S. are Latinos and around the world 39 percent are Latinos,” says Ayala.

He believes this was a move from the Church to keep the larger group of the faithful and he says members of his community have been talking about it for the last couple of weeks.

Ayala believes the spirit of the Hispanic community will enliven the church.

“Music and, in terms of the service, I think that doing it in Spanish also plays a huge, huge role. So it’s a different energy, it’s less dull, less passive, less conservative. So hopefully this Pope will bring some of that!”

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