BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thousands of Catholics gather in Baltimore to celebrate the anniversary of the pope’s election. Pope Francis has become wildly popular in his first year at the Vatican. His fresh approach and mass appeal is being called the “Francis Factor.”

Christie Ileto has more on his impact.

It’s not Mass but an event–the “Francis Factor”–that has nearly 3,000 Catholics heading into the Reitz Arena at Loyola Tuesday.

More than 365 days after being elected the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is making an indelible mark.

“It’s a transformational year for our church and he’s leading it and I’m so excited to see what other people are thinking about,” said Loretto Kane.

“The Pope is a true companion of Jesus,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley is one of eight cardinals selected by the Pope to serve on his Advisory Council to help govern the church and reform its troubled central administration.

“He speaks to us in very practical ways about accomplishing the mission and I really think he’s won a new hearing for the gospel and the church,” said Archbishop William Lori.

Pope Francis has millions of Twitter followers, graced the covers of magazines and has been praised for his humble attitude. So what is it that makes him so popular?

“I think people are really catching on to his message. He’s talking about change in the church. His message is resounding with a lot of people,” said Mark Palmer.

On the day of his anniversary, he thanked followers by saying, “Please continue praying for me.”

It’s that humility many Catholics say is turning the church in the right direction.

Pope Francis marked his anniversary in prayer on a week-long silent retreat away from the Vatican.

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