by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A normal day took a surreal turn for Susana Marcos when she got a phone call from a friend she hadn’t talked with in years.
Marcos, a member of the Church of the Nativity in Leawood, was at her grandson’s elementary school on Wed., March 13.
“I was so surprised when I got the call,” said Marcos. “I thought something must be wrong.”
Actually, something was very right. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, had been elected pope.
“When she told me, I just started screaming in the school,” said Marcos, who was born in the city of Parana in the state of Entre Rios, about 350 miles northwest of Buenos Aires. She came to the United States in 2003.
“I just ran and told my daughter, and two or three people I knew there,” she said. “I went out and got phone calls from so many friends. I was really happy.”
Rosario Garriga, a member of Good Shepherd Parish in Shawnee, was doing translation work at home when her mother in Argentina excitedly contacted her via Skype.
“I said, ‘Holy cow,’” said Garriga. “I was shocked.”
Her children Sophia and Max, at Good Shepherd School, had been watching the news, too. Sophia was so excited, reported her teacher, that she kept jumping out of her chair.
“People [in Argentina] were going crazy,” said Garriga, who comes from San Isidro, a suburb of Buenos Aires. “All Argentinos, whether they are practicing Catholics or not, were excited. The pope is a universal figure.”
Carmen Lafalce, who was born in Buenos Aires and came to the United States in 1987, was teaching her first-grade class at the Foreign Language Academy in Kansas City, Mo., when she got the news.
“I also heard from friends and relatives, not only in Kansas City,” said Lafalce. “Everyone is really excited. Even though they might not be from Argentina, my Colombian and Mexican friends are expressing their happiness and congratulations.”
The selection of Pope Francis gives all Latin Americans feelings of pride and hope, said Marcos, who has her own radio show on Kansas City area station AM 1440 at 6 p.m. on Sundays.
“I think most of all [I felt] hope — that he was going to be different,” said Marcos. “These people in Europe don’t have a clue about real life on this side of the world. Latin America is a whole different reality. Unless you get deeply involved in it, you don’t understand.
“Being one of us, [Pope Francis] can really represent and understand the needs of so many millions of people on this side of the world.”
For Garriga, an Argentine cartoon passed around on Facebook says it all:
Under the caption “What the World Saw,” Pope Francis is waving from the balcony and wearing a white papal cassock. Under the caption “What the Argentine People Saw,” Pope Francis is waving from the same balcony — but is wearing an Argentine national soccer team jersey emblazoned with the number “10” of star player Lionel Messi.