KNOXVILLE (WATE) – For 1.2 billion Catholics, the election of Pope Francis was history in the making. For many Catholic youth, it was the first time to witness such a moment.
From college students huddled around the television to young third and fifth graders in religion class, the new pope was the topic of conversation for Knoxville Catholics.
"I was really excited that they had gotten it in just one day I thought it was going to take like five," said Brandon Blackstock, a third grade student in St. Albert the Great's religion class.
"I was so eager for it to just happen, now that it's happened I feel very happy," said Julianna Brunner, a fifth grade student in the religion class.
The instructors at St. Albert the Great say it was a day many of these children will always remember.
"It's a big deal for our faith to have a new pope and it's a big deal in their lifetime because it doesn't happen very often," said Lisa Minnot, the coordinator for the religion class.
Catholic students at the University of Tennessee, remember the selection of Pope Benedict XVI. Now they are ready to see what Pope Francis will bring.
"Unity in the church, a great leader, someone we can all rally behind, someone to get excited behind," Andy Christianson said he was hoping to see.
"I'm just overwhelmed right now, I'm happy we have a new pope and I'm about to go down and pray for him right now," Greg Hartman, a student at UT.
As Father Charlie Donahue explains, the day was a moment of togetherness for the Catholic Church, young and old, throughout Knoxville, and across the world.
"That's one of the great parts about being a Catholic Christian there's a great sense of utter unity," explained Father Donahue. "I mean Catholic means universal. The church is both ever the same and ever new, always, and this is us living that out."