David Angelino of Kingwood's St. Martha Catholic Church and School considered becoming a priest since childhood. He moved to Houston with his family in 2001, and a few years later began studies at the University of St. Thomas. After a semester, he entered the seminary. Angelino, who now studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, set aside his studies for a few moments to answer a few questions from reporter Jayme Fraser about the elections for a new pope that begin Tuesday.
Q: Can you describe the atmosphere at the seminary and in the city?
A: The atmosphere in the seminary is one of excitement. We were all sad to see Benedict leave the papacy, but we recognize that he did it because of declining health and will continue to serve the church though prayer. Around town, there are a number of posters that the City of Rome put up with a picture of Benedict with the caption "You will remain with us forever. Thank you."
Being in Rome for the election of a new pope is a great blessing, and we are all looking forward to seeing where the Holy Spirit is leading the Church.
Q: What do you see as the most important challenges and opportunities for the new pope to address?
A: I think the most important thing that the new pope will have to address is, following in the footsteps of Benedict XVI, how to bring the message of God to a world that is growing more and more secular. The new pope will also have a great opportunity to foster Christianity in other parts of the world, where it continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Q: As a Texan, can you provide insight into the wonderful diversity in the church?
A: Cardinal DiNardo likes to point out that on any given Sunday, Mass is celebrated in 15 to 20 languages in Houston. This diversity among believers is also present in Rome. I attend class with people from all over the world and, despite our different backgrounds, we all share the same faith.
Q: From your time in Rome, can you provide insight into how worship and Catholic identity is different from Texas, or surprisingly similar?
A: The reason it is called the "Catholic Church" is because the word "catholic" means "universal." Our beliefs and worship are the same throughout out the world. One example to illustrate this: I had the opportunity to go to a Mass celebrated in Korean. While I wasn't able to recognize a single word (not even "Christ" or "Amen"), I was still able to follow along and knew what was happening the entire time.
Q: Minority Catholics here wonder if an African or Latin American has a chance at becoming Pope. More generally, can you share your thoughts on the wonders and challenges of the world's Catholics being so diverse?
A: I really can't speculate on who the next pope will be. As far as the diversity of the world's Catholics goes, it's amazing to see how different local traditions are can be incorporated into the Church. One of the challenges is trying to find a common language. The pope gives the bulk of his addresses in Italian and then addresses other language groups. Of course, that isn't a problem with written statements that are translated into all the major languages.
Q: What do you miss most about Texas, and what do you wish you could bring home from Rome?
A: What I miss most about Texas, aside from family and friends, is the food. Italians make Italian food really well, but they don't know how to make anything else.