There was running in the halls, talking and happy squealing during class and at least one mass student walkout during a test Wednesday—all completely acceptable behavior at the Catholic Seton School—at least when a new pope is announced.
The College of Cardinals at the Vatican in Rome selected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of Argentina, as the Roman Catholic Church new pope. The selection was made, shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday (a little after 7 p.m. in Rome). Bergoglio selected the name Pope Francis.
Normally a calm, layman-run Catholic school in Manassas, Seton was abuzz with activity when news of the new pope spread through the small student body of 350 pupils.
"Somebody comes into our classroom and he yells, 'New pope' and all the girls get up and they are like, screaming and they run out. Our teacher was like, 'Girls. Girls! What are you doing?'" said 16-year-old Seton student Regina Terreri.
The girls explained that the school's founder, Dr. Anne Carroll said there would be a special assembly in the gym as soon as the new pope was announced, Terreri said.
"The halls just filled, there was this joy that just shot through the school. It was amazing. The Holy Spirit was moving through the hallways. You felt it in your soul," said Joe Zapian—the student who shouted "New pope" into Terreri's classroom.
Seton School office administrator Debbie Cooper was also moving through the halls, teachers said.
"I've never seen Mrs. Cooper move that fast," Karen Parriott, the school's registrar said in jest.
Carroll, the schools' founder and religion and history teacher, allowed her students to leave class for the gym, even though a test was being administered.
"We finished up the question and then we left," Carroll said.
It was OK, the students seeing the new holy father was important, she added.
The assembly was full of excitement; at one point two students, one with the American flag and the other with the Papal flag, began running back and forth in front of the gym, Seton School staff said.
" ... it all happened right at once, so it was like a shot of Holy Spirit juice," Zapioin said.
No one seem to mind that they got out of school late after waiting for the identity of the new pope to be revealed.
"I was just really surprised that we have a South American pope and he's the first Jesuit and he's the first pope that took the name Francis. There was just so much new stuff and it was really exciting," Seton student Jude Van de Voorde said.
It's a special moment for all because Pope Francis is not only a spiritual father, he's like an earthly father leading them, 17-year-old Seton student Helen Kelly said.