SCRANTON -- A special mass was held in Lackawanna County Thursday to pray for the new leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.
At the same time the pontiff led his first mass as pope at the Vatican, Bishop Joseph Bambera led a celebration in Francis's honor here at home.
It was a time for celebration at St. Peter's Cathedral in Scranton, Catholics coming together to pray for their new pope.
"What a wonderful, wonderful day this is to celebrate the gift of God, seen so vividly and beautifully in our new Holy Father, Pope Francis," said Bishop Bambera during his homily.
There is a mass every day at lunchtime at St. Peter's Cathedral, but this mass was in honor of Pope Francis, led by the leader of Catholics in the Diocese of Scranton.
The bishop recited a popular Catholic Prayer, the prayer of St. Francis, the patron saint of the new pope.
"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sew love."
Those in the pews said it's a fitting prayer and a fitting name for the new Pope Francis.
"I like what he stands for. I read up on him on his bio and he seems like a great man. I think it's a direction the church needs. I don't think we'll see big change but we'll see some change," said pat Sheehan of Dunmore.
There's a statue of St. Francis in the back of St. Peter's Cathedral, as there is in many Catholic Churches and many homes here in our area, just one way Catholics are connected to their new pope.
"That's one of the incredible blessings of being Catholic. You can go to any church in the world. You can go to Buenos Aires where Pope Francis comes from, you can go to Rome, you can come here to Scranton and you celebrate the same mass, the same living reality of faith that we so, so treasure," said Bishop Bambera.
In fact, this mass in Scranton was being held at the exact time Pope Francis held his first mass in the Vatican as pope.
"Oh, it was very exciting. I'm so happy about the new pope. I'm really thrilled and I'm really excited that he's from this hemisphere and think that's a plus too," said Delores Groncki of Scranton.
"Oh, I think it's going to be a long way in the new church. It's going to be a new beginning and we're looking forward to it," said Tom Groncki.
Bishop Bambera said today at mass that the celebration of the pope is extra special for the growing Hispanic population in the Diocese of Scranton. Pope Francis is the first pope from Latin America.