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As cardinals enter conclave, Houston Catholics offer prayers

Jayme Frase, Houston Chronicle
Updated 2:47 am, Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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  • Church members pray at a Mass at Houston's Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Monday. The conclave to elect a new pope starts on Tuesday at the Sistine Chapel. Photo: Eric Kayne, For The Chronicle / © 2013 Eric Kayne

    Church members pray at a Mass at Houston's Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Monday. The conclave to elect a new pope starts on Tuesday at the Sistine Chapel.

    Photo: Eric Kayne, For The Chronicle

 

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The cardinals who enter conclave today to elect the new pope were likely sleeping in Rome when Houston Catholics gathered downtown to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide them.

Pope Benedict XVI surprised the world last month by being the first pontiff in centuries to resign rather than serve until his death.

The Princes of the Church, or cardinals, gathered in Rome this month to prepare for electing his successor.

Almost 100 people celebrated a special Mass Monday night at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, where the Gospel readings and songs focused on church unity and trusting the Lord's guidance.

Bishop George Sheltz opened his homily by sharing a short phone conversation he had that morning with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who is representing the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in conclave.

"He asked me to extend to you all his best wishes," Sheltz said. "He asked that all of you pray for the church, pray for the cardinals, pray for him and to pray for the person they will select as the next pope."

Those gathered in the pews laughed at Sheltz's jests about running the archdiocese while DiNardo is out-of-communication during conclave and visiting the Sistine Chapel while he was "in baby bishop college."

Most of the Mass, however, was solemn and celebratory, singing the same hymn as the cardinals will on today before taking an oath of office and entering conclave.