MADISON (WKOW)-- A lot of world wide excitement for the new pope and many here in Southern Wisconsin share that feeling.
It's excitement that traveled nearly 5,000 miles all the way from the streets of Vatican City.
"A lot of joy and excitement," Catholic follower Connie Nielsen says. "It's important that we have a pope that speaks to the youth. It was nice to see so many young people in Rome today."
Many are simply thrilled to see the first non-European pope in a thousand years. Being born in Latin America, he's the first pope to come from the Western Hemisphere.
"It's definitely a very big thing in the Latin American countries. It's a big part of their life," says St. Ambrose Academy student Jose Flores.
Studies show nearly 40% of the world's Catholics live in Latin America. At Good Shepherd Catholic parish, members are catering to the growing number of Latinos in Madison. They now provide both Spanish and English masses.
"I'm sure they're excited," parish member Carol Kinney says. "It will be interesting to talk to them tomorrow."
Some think that even the new pope's choice for a name brings excitement. He announced his name Pope Francis, named after Saint Francis, a figure many can connect with.
"Even though he was born into a very rich family, he renounced all of that because he loved the lord so much," Catholic Nancy Zeller explains. "He renounced all the material things of life and got back to the basics of really what makes a person joyful."
Catholic follower Paul Schroeder says he also finds comfort in a pope that values the teachings of Saint Francis.
"He was a real, kind of a hellion at the beginning of his life and then turned his life around a little bit," says Paul Schroeder, talking about the stories of Saint Francis.
However, many feel the biggest strength of the new pope is his humble and caring demeanor and his ability to build a global following in god.
"That is something about Christian teaching and Catholic faith is, we're all in this together. Wherever we are in the globe," Good Shepherd member Alan Zeller says.
Local Catholics were also excited to see that the new pope is a Jesuit, being educated in that Catholic tradition. He is the first Jesuit to be elected pope.