One year ago, a little newsroom went ecstatic

It’s hard to believe it was one year ago. Smokestacks were on every TV and computer monitor; a local TV crew, who stopped by to see what it was like to work at a Catholic organization at such a monumental moment, was milling around waiting for some news — any news. We’d delayed going to press the day before in the hopes that Wednesday would be the day. Everyone was obsessed with a tiny chimney, smoke and — for a short time — some kind of seagull.

When the white smoke puffed out of the chimney, a little newsroom in Northeast Indiana went ecstatic. Crowds piled around the television, and cameras rolled. I awkwardly hugged my co-worker, whom I had known for less than two weeks. It was an incredible moment to work in the Catholic press.

Little did we know then that that incredible moment would extend for a year and beyond, leading into the roller-coaster ride that we now know as Pope Francis’ pontificate. For the past 12 months, we’ve been challenged, instructed, encouraged and inspired. Over and over, our Argentine pope has made headlines for his authenticity — to both the Church and to himself. It has remained an incredible time to work in the Catholic press.

Personally, justified or not, I have felt a special kinship with the man who was elected on my 12th day of work as editor of OSV Newsweekly. “We kind of came in together, me and the pope,” I’ve told pretty much anyone who would ask. Starting a new job, transitioning to a new life — it seemed, to me at least, that was reason enough for a natural bond.

One year ago this afternoon, we had no idea what to expect. When Pope Francis stepped out on the loggia for the first time and said “buena sera,” he captured our attention. When he asked us to pray for him, he captured our hearts.

This morning, his message was the same. Via Twitter, Pope Francis sent out four simple words: “Please pray for me.” In their own way, those four words wrap up the man behind the papacy. Simple, humble and faithful. It’s hard to believe it was one year ago — the day we first met Pope Francis.

Join us as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis' pontificate:

Gretchen R. Crowe is editor of OSV Newsweekly.