Mar 20, 2013 at 8:56 am
ST. JOSEPH, Minn. (KNSI) - It's been one week now since Jorge Bergoglio was named as successor to Pope Benedict, and the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict are excitedly awaiting Pope Francis' first steps in his new role.
Sister Michaela Hedican, Prioress of the order in St. Joseph, says she and her sisters were surprised at the quick selection of Francis, and took turns going on "pope watch" last Wednesday when the smoke appeared from the Sistine Chapel.
Hedican has been the Prioress of the order since 2011. She, along with the other 280 members of her monastic community, were elated with the selection of the former Bishop of Argentina. She says it shows the church is recognizing the strong presence the catholic faith in Latin America.
Hedican adds, the fact that Pope Francis is also a Jesuit - a priest who takes a vow of poverty - shows he values humility, community service and social justice - qualities closely aligned with the mission of the Sisters of St. Benedict.
"He cooks his own meals, he uses mass transportation," Hedican says. "These things show a deep commitment to conveying the gospel through a simple life of service. He's not going to make a big show out of his position."
Hedican herself is a graduate of Seattle University, a Jesuit institution. She explains that there was a time in history when the Jesuit Order was suppressed by the Catholic Church, but the divergant groups have long since united in their cause. She says collaboration between all levels is essential in order to secure a strong future for the church.
"All of us, not just the hierarchy, need to bridge the differences through a presence to each other that is respectful, and a listening stance whereby we can hear where we're coming from, and to see where we can meet each other," Hedican says. "We need to keep the door open for dialoging, and stay present to each other. It's going to be vital, and the church needs to show us the way."
Hedican continues to pray for Pope Francis daily. Her order, like others, dedicates daily life to outreach and community service.
"You adapt to what the times are calling for. Caring for the sick, a gospel mandate. We built a hospital that we then gave to the city of St. Cloud," Hedican says. "Things like building the College of St. Benedict, which is now educating people from all over the world. Like a good social worker, you work your way out of a job."
Hedican says we live in times where it's crucial for the church to bridge the growing gap between the rich and the poor - something she feels, given his humble background, Pope Francis is well-equipped to explore. She also is waiting to see if Francis continues the move of Benedict in appointing more women to roles of leadership within the church hierarchy.
Pope Francis is expected to appoint a successor to the St. Cloud Diocese's Bishop Kinney, though the timeline on that isn't clear just yet.