COVINGTON, Ky. - As the Vatican handled a crowd of about 200,000 people to watch Pope Francis' inaugural Mass Tuesday, the Sisters of Notre Dame in Covington gathered in their convent's community room to witness history.
A room of sisters who have all had experience an inaugural Mass in Rome, one of whom has been present for the last six papal inaugurations, discussed some of the moments that stood out during the ceremony.
The crowd may be the biggest in Rome since more than 1.5 million people came to the city for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II on May 1, 2011.
"I was touched by the simplicity of Pope Francis. He is not afraid to show his feelings. I find him to be very compassionate and relatable," said Sister Shauna Bankemper. She resides 20 minutes from Vatican City, but is home as a part of her service. She returns to the Vatican at the end of April.
"I think it can be a little chaotic," Bankemper said. "People trying to get communion are practically crawling over each other so its nice to watch it this way."
The group of sisters discussed what Pope Francis was wearing. This was the first time the sisterhood recalled a pope dressed so simply.
"They are usually wearing gold and jewelry. Not just plain white," said Sister Marla Monohan.
Sister Margaret Agnes, who spent 50 years in Rome and witnessed six papal installations, agreed about the simplicity of the the ceremony.
"I was struck by his simplicity. He speaks the people's language," Agnes said. "This was also the first time I saw such a young boy who sang the psalm in response after the first reading."
The women shouted in excitement when they recognize some of their sisters standing in the audience watching the Mass.
The sisters described the pope's homily as one of hope, love, and goodness. "A pope who dwells among us" was how the sisters described Pope Francis after the ceremony.
The Sisters of Notre Dame say they could not be happier with the message Pope Francis delivered to the world Tuesday morning. As to how this will affect the convent and church, the sisters say the pope will keep the true meaning of the word catholic: "all are welcome."
The Covington Archdiocese will hold a mass to celebrate the new holy father on Thursday at their Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption at 7 p.m.
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