BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Pope Francis celebrated his installation Mass Tuesday morning at the Vatican. One hundred and fifty cardinals, world leaders and thousands of Catholics packed St. Peter’s Square for the ceremony.

Monique Griego has reaction from local Catholics.

This is a big day for all Catholics but for one group of young men, Tuesday’s Mass holds a different meaning. They’re choosing to follow in the same path as the pope.

It was only 4:30 a.m. but at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, the guys were up and the goodies were out for a historic celebration.

“We know there’s people gathered in Rome and Argentina and throughout the city of Baltimore who’ve gotten up. Many of them Catholic, many of them not,” said Deacon Andrew Nelson.

Deacon Andrew Nelson is one of 40 seminarians who gathered to watch Pope Francis give his inaugural Mass. For these men who all hope to one day become priests, the moment was awe-inspiring.

“It’s hard to describe. It’s exciting and joyful,” said seminarian John Baab. “There’s a newness about it.”

“This is not something that occurs often and it’s unpredictable when it does happen,” said seminarian Matthew Jones.

Many Catholics have said they see this new pope as a new beginning for a church that’s struggled in recent years. Tuesday, seminarians here echoed that same message.

“Many of the challenges and scandals that are very difficult…horrible…needed to be faced up to,” Nelson said. “With Pope Francis, it’s an opportunity for us and all people to move forward.”

While tens of thousands watched the pope speak from the Vatican, millions of others could only get as close as their flatscreen. That, however, didn’t seem to take away from the moment. Pope Francis is already proving to be a huge inspiration for the men who will soon follow in his path.

“Seeing the Holy Father begin his Pontificate and I’m preparing to begin–God willing–my priestly ministry is very exciting for me,” said Nelson.

“I think it’s a new phase and a good phase,” said Baab.

Some of the men WJZ spoke with will be ordained as priests in a little more than two months.

Many of the seminarians say they hope to focus on serving the poor and less fortunate, just as Pope Francis has in his life.


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