ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - “Habemus Papam. We have a Pope. Boys and girls we have a new pope!” This was the exclamation proclaimed over the loud speaker as the white smoke poured out from the Sistine Chapel.  The PreK 4 class came out to the hallway to cheer and were encouraged to come to the main office to see the smoke.

“I was so happy to be in school to share this joyous occasion with our students.” said Mrs. Melissa Whelan Wisk, principal of Mother Teresa Regional School.  “Tomorrow and Friday I have meetings out of the school and was worried that the Pope would be chosen then and I couldn’t share this moment of joy.” Mrs. Wisk went to each class to speak with the students and to be sure that they were watching and hearing the excitement from Rome.  “We knew it would take a while to hear of the new Pope as he vested in the Room of Tears and then the cardinals sang Te Deum and the Holy Father spent time in adoration.” Students had learned all of this from their own conclave on Tuesday.  Cardinal Dolan had been chosen as the Pope and chose the name Aloysius, one of the great Jesuits.  The experience of the conclave helped to explain the process and made today’s announcement exciting for the students.

Students didn’t hear of the new Pope’s name until they were home, but some had cell phones out as they boarded buses so they didn’t miss anything.  In Mrs. Baeder’s last period class, students were watching the Trenton Monitor’s live streaming video and were able to witness the smoke as it first appeared. “The students started cheering and one went to the hall to alert the other classes” explained Mrs. Jennifer Baeder.  Faculty and staff members remained at school waiting to hear of the new Pope, watching the live video.

Today was truly a joyous day for our church. We are so blessed as Catholic school educators to share this joy with our students.  Now we will spend time praying for the new Pope and learning about him.  The students at Mother Teresa Regional School in grades Prek3 through 8th grade will gather for the Adoration of the Eucharist on Friday, March 15th at 9am to pray for Pope Francis.  For more information visit mtregional.com.