Saint Mary Parish of Middletown has put plans in place for when the Vatican announces the newly-elected Pontiff -- “Habemus Papam!” which is Latin for “We Have a Pope!”
Over the past several days, 115 Cardinals traveled to the Vatican in Rome for the Conclave. Tuesday was the first day of the Conclave, and black smoke rose from a chimney at the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel signifying that a Pope has not been chosen in the first ballot of the Conclave. Father Jeff Kegley, Pastor of Saint Mary Parish and Director of Mater Dei Prep and Saint Mary School, believes it is important for the Catholic community of Saint Mary to implement a few traditions upon the proclamation of “Habemus Papam!”, and his plans are in place at Saint Mary’s to recognize this historic moment of the Catholic Church.
Wednesday is the second day of the Conclave and after the morning’s vote, black smoke poured from a chimney. The Cardinals will have three more opportunities to cast a ballot Wednesday, and a two-thirds majority is needed to elect a new Pope.
The community of Saint Mary’s will be joining people around the world (1.2 billion Catholics) watching for black or white smoke. When the white smoke billows from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel announcing the Supreme Pontiff, yellow and white bunting is scheduled to be put up immediately on the doors of Mary, Mother of God Church, Saint Mary Chapel, Mater Dei Prep and Saint Mary School.
The bells of Mary, Mother of God Church and Saint Mary Chapel will ring in unison for a period of time notifying the Middletown community of this momentous announcement. Saint Mary Chapel is 135 years old and the church bells have been chiming for all those years.
If school is in session, under the directive from the Diocese of Trenton’s Office of Catholic Education, the staff, faculty and students will turn their attention to Rome and view the live coverage as the new Pope emerges from the Vatican, steps onto the balcony, and is presented to the people and gives his first papal blessing. All students, faculty and staff of both schools will gather for Mass on Friday at 9 AM, if by this time a new Pope has been elected, and Father Jeff’s homily will address the Conclave and Pontiff Election. All members of the community are welcome to attend this Mass.
This is an exciting time for our Catholic community, yet met with some anticipation. Many people have been filled with up and down moments of emotion upon learning the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation and are eagerly awaiting the announcement of his successor.
Since most residents in Middletown will not be in Rome, Father Jeff’s decision to carry out the appropriate liturgical environment will be appreciated by many. With great thanks to Father Jeff, the community of Saint Mary and its fellow neighbors now has the opportunity to witness these traditions firsthand – some for the very first time. The vision of yellow and white bunting throughout the campus of Saint Mary and the sounds of Church bells ringing will be spiritually uplifting and should positively resonate throughout the community of Middletown and our neighboring towns.