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North country clergy are pleased with the new pope

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OGDENSBURG — In the Diocese of Ogdensburg, the bells at towering St. Mary’s Cathedral began to peal mid-afternoon Wednesday and resonated throughout the city.

They joined ringing bells from Roman Catholic churches all over the 104,113-member, 12,036-square-mile diocese that covers all of Northern New York.

There was a new pontiff to celebrate.

The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first leader of the church from the American hemisphere. He took his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who left riches and comfort for a life of poverty and prayer.

Local clergy reaction was positive.

“We’re very happy about the new pope,” said the Rev. F. James Shurtleff, pastor of Notre Dame Church, Ogdensburg.

The Rev. Joseph A. Morgan, rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Ogdensburg, joined in the praise.

“All we’re hearing about him is wonderful things, that’s he’s a very humble man,” Father Morgan said.

Other north country clerics agreed that Pope Francis will be a strong, informed and modern leader for the church and its estimated 1.5 billion faithful.

A delegation of dozens of members of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, Watertown, including the Rev. Donald A. Robinson, was at the Vatican when the announcement was made.

Deacon Kevin T. Mastellon of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Watertown, said it was a good sign for the church to have finished the conclave so quickly, and added that the new pope will have challenges to face in the new role.

“We pray that he’ll be ready to take on the task, and will be inspired to choose those battles that need to be fought and fight them well,” he said.

The Rev. Garvin J. Demarais, pastor of St. Rita’s Church, Deferiet, and St. Paul’s, Black River, said the voting cardinals did a good job selecting Pope Francis I, calling him both knowledgeable and humble.

“This is very good for the church,” he said.

Father Demarais said he and the church will be with the new pope in prayer as he takes on the new role.

Bishop Terry R. LaValley was attending a retreat Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

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