ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - It was the moment everyone was waiting for: the thick, red velvet curtains opened, and a new Pope to lead the Catholic church emerged.
Thousands of miles from Vatican City, Bay area believers felt a rush of excitement. Some of the comments made from people at St. Raphael's Catholic Church included, "Overjoyed! It's wonderful, it's a wonderful occasion."
"It's something that we need here today, something to connect with."
"I think it's going to be a new breath for the church and I think it's wonderful."
As Wednesday mass was celebrated around the Bay area, Pope Francis I was the topic of discussion. Parishioners are pleased with the new Pope, but they say he's facing one big uphill battle. The number one challenge for Pope Francis, according to followers, is breathing life back into Catholics, renewing their spirit after so much scandal.
Stephen Salamone told 10 News, "Well, I think the church has gotten a bad wrap. When you're managing a church 2,000 years old, represented everywhere in world, has a billion followers, you have the very best people in the church and you have the very worst people of the church."
Marge Colraby said, "Well, the world especially the United States, needs new faith, new spirit, and new morals, looking back to Christ for their answers, and I think he'll be a good leader to do that."
Bishop Robert Lynch from the Diocese of St. Petersburg spoke at length with the media about Pope Francis, stressing the fact that this new leader seems to be media savvy, which in this day and age is crucial. He's lead the diocese for 17 years.
The bishop told 10 News, "It's absolutely essential. I said that in the beginning, that they will look for someone comfortable in his own skin, and can take the occasional question that hurts."
Diana Gandia said, "Being able to have that one-on-one connection with someone like that, I think it's going to be great to have our pope in place for that."
Salamone added, "From all accounts, this pope has been an exemplary archbishop and cardinal, man of peace, great learning being a jesuit. I think he represents a lot of important elements of church today."