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Xavier Prep students celebrate first Jesuit pope

Xavier Prep Celebrates Newly Elected Pope

PALM DESERT, Calif. - With an announcement made in Latin over the intercom saying "we have a pope," students got the big news on Wednesday morning. It was a historical moment some of them say they won't forget.

"It was cool. It was history in the making in my lifetime. It's awesome we can announce it over the intercom loudly," said Niko Garcia, a 12th-grade student.

Xavier Preparatory High School celebrated the Catholic Church's newly elected leader, Pope Francis. He's the first member of the religious order Society of Jesus to take on the role.

"I think being a jesuit is something really important to our school. It's what we're founded on," said Christina McKeever, a 12th-grade student.

School Principal, Chris Alling says, "My hope is that my experience with this pope is similar to the experience of leaders I've been blessed to follow."

Some students discovered they have more in common with the pope than just faith.

"I texted my mom. She's like 'Oh, he's born on my birthday.' The pope and my mom share a birthday," said McKeever.

Jesuits work to look through the eyes of Christ and encompass his teachings. It's religious leadership that encourages love and compassion, which many believers hope will help Pope Francis reform the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church.

"Dominican, Jesuit or Franciscan aside, this leader has a lot of work ahead to do," said Alling.

Garcia, 18, says, "I know there's been a lot of scandals and it's put a bad name on the church, but with a new reform and a new extrovert pope, we can turn that negative view of Catholicism around."

McKeever, 17, hopes to learn and hear more about the church beyond the school campus.

"I think now that I'm more knowledgeable about the Catholic faith, I'll look to see what he's about and what he'll do for us," she said.

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