Father José Quintana has been a priest for 17 years. For 12 years, he’s been over St. Francis Xavier.
He said he never would have guessed which cardinal would appear after seeing the white smoke plume in the Vatican.
“So there was that moment of excitement and trying to know who will be your new pope, who will be our new pope,” Quintana said.
Pope Francis from Argentina was the pick. Like the new pope, Quintana and many of his parishioners are Spanish-speaking.
Diocese of Grand Rapids Bishop Walter Hurley believes the new pick might reflect a demographic shift in the Catholic Church, internationally and locally.
“A number of years ago, it was simply the European communities that made up the Grand Rapids community of people whose roots were in Europe primarily, not exclusively but primarily, and the church sort of focused in that direction,” Hurley said.
“Now with the shifting population, we have people not only coming from South America. We have them coming from all over,” Hurley added.
“A great percentage of Catholics are in Central North and South America, and even in this country,” Quintana said.
Ultimately, Father Quintana says it’s about the pope setting an example for all Catholics.
“I know as the pope of the universal church. It’s not Spanish, English or French or Latin, but it’s a language of love,” Quintana explained.
“So, at this moment I want to tell my congregation. I wanna say myself, pray for him so that he will do the changes that the Holy Spirit is going to inspire him to do,” Quintana said.
He said he hasn’t had much time to process the news and study the pope. However, Quintana believes Pope Francis exhibits a humility he feels is necessary for the position.