"Humility" is the first thing many area Catholics say to describe Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was elected the 265th pope and took the name Francis on March 13.
The next thing they mention is the broad appeal Pope Francis, 76, is likely to have around the world -- and the challenges he will face.
Bishop Richard Lennon, of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, called on the faithful to pray Pope Francis will by "word and example inspire and guide the Church."
"I also pray that Pope Francis may be a champion of the poor, a reconciler of nations, and a force for peace and unity in our world," Lennon said after the Vatican City announcement.
"The appearance of Pope Francis revealed a sincere and humble man," said the Rev. Jim Singler, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Cuyahoga Falls.
"It's only a speculation, but I think the cardinal-electors wanted to elect someone who would bring about a peaceful prayerful church, mindful of the third world and the poor, converting the powerful away from any wrongful 'stuff' the 'powerful' being any church man, politician, man or woman."
The Rev. Ralph Wiatrowski, of St. Barnabas Parish in Northfield Center, said he is sure the new pope is "overwhelmed at the thought of what he has to do."
"When you think of the Pope, who has the responsibility for 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, it extends into every country and culture, every language what is a concern for you and me here, might not be much of a concern in Africa or Asia and vice versa. The challenges and concerns are really different and the Pope is the one who has to have a view of all those things.
"You really need someone who is very humble to try and take it on and do what needs to be done, or just be open to the possibilities of things that he may not have thought of at all," he said.
The Rev. Clyde Foster, pastor of Ss. Cosmas and Damian Parish in Twinsburg, said the selection of an Argentine Jesuit as pope emphasizes that the Catholic church is a "worldwide" church.
"This would seem to be an affirmation that the spirits are working to make the church truly Catholic, reaching out to all people and embracing all cultures. So it's no longer dominated by a European culture. It's opening up a completely new horizon," he said.
The Rev. James M. Daprile, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Aurora, referred to the former Cardinal Bergoglio's lifestyle.
"He lived in a simple one-room apartment. He cooked his own meals and took public transportation. He is a humble and simple man," Daprile said, adding Pope Francis' first words included a call for prayers. "His work has been as an advocate for social justice and a simple way of life, which commands my attention and respect."
"It is a special joy to us to know that he is a brother Jesuit," said the Rev. Donald J. Petkash, S.J., Vice-President of Mission and Identity at Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls.
Jesuits are members of the Society of Jesus, which was founded by St. Ignatius Loyola. The Jesuits are noted for their scholarship and their history of missionary work, taking Catholicism to India, Japan, China, and South America.
They are also noted as an order of teachers.
"Although I do not know him personally, I am impressed by the reports of his humility, his simple lifestyle, his commitment to the poor and to social justice," Petkash said. "And it is good to know that, as a Jesuit, he has been formed in the spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola with its prayerful focus on the life and person of Jesus."
Local pastors also found significance in that the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be named pontiff chose to be called Francis. The name pays tribute to St. Francis of Assisi, who founded the Franciscan Order and espoused caring for the poor.
Before that was made clear by the Vatican, the local pastors thought the choice also could honor St. Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits, and who is the patron of missionaries.
Foster said St. Francis of Assisi is arguably "the second-most respected and loved person of Christianity."
"When Francis of Assisi went to the Holy Land, it was during the crusades, and the Sultan was taken aback by him because here was a Christian European coming to him without armor and without weapons, dressed very simply in a brown robe and desiring only to talk and listen, to proclaim the gospel -- when most other Christians were coming there to conquer."
Pope Francis takes the place of Pope Benedict XVI, who officially stepped down in February at age 85, announcing he was no longer up to the rigors of the job. The new pope is rumored to have been the runner-up to Pope Benedict when he was elected in 2005, but the Rev. John Madden, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Ravenna, said the world will never really know because the ballots are burned after the election.
The Rev. Ed Kordas, of St. Mary Church in Hudson, said Cardinal Bergoglio must have been remembered as a very prominent figure.
"I think I'm as much as surprised as the rest of the world," Kordas said. "This man was not among those who were talked about as front runners.
Editor's note: The Record Courier and reporters Laura Freeman, Conner Howard, Mike Lesko, Holly Schoenstein and Ellin Walsh contributed to this story.