Local Catholics are excited to once again have a leader and one that breaks the mold.
Hundreds of children attend religious education class every Wednesday night at St. Francis of Assisi in West Des Moines. It was perfect timing to learn as much as they could about the new pope including his name: Francis.
"I think it tells us more about the person that we don't know that much about yet," said Christen Cota, the director of religious education for the parish. "I just wanted to follow it very closely too particularly so we can use it as a teaching moment for our students. "
The name Francis recalls two great saints. One of them was a Jesuit missionary; the other was known for caring for the poor and living a simple lifestyle. But it's not all about the name.
"People would say what do you want in a pope? I start with being Catholic. Second, be a faith-filled man and a hope-filled man," said St. Francis of Assisi's Father Bob Hoefler.
He is excited to see the largest Catholic population, which is in Latin America, now represented in Rome.
"We're from all over the world so why can't the leader come from anywhere in the world?" he said. "I'm happy with it."
Parents picking their children up from class also have been following the reveal of their new leader.
"There was a lot of talk about the potential of a cardinal from the United States being elected to the pope so I suppose a little disappointed there, but it's nice to see somebody from the Americas," parishioner Doug Moore said.
Bishop Richard Pates of the Diocese of Des Moines believes Pope Francis will be a good leader by example to Catholics. For example, he leads a very simple lifestyle when many people are distracted by materialism.