by Dennis Dalman – firstname.lastname@example.org
The election of a new pope has made Father Tim Baltes of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church and many others in Sartell very happy.
Members of the congregation are also pleased with the selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io) as the new pope of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church. The 76-year-old man, who chose the name Pope Francis I, hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he has lived for years in humble simplicity in a modest apartment. He is also the first non-European pope to serve in more than 1,200 years and the first member of the Jesuit order to lead the church. He will replace Pope Benedict XVI who announced last month he would retire because of aging issues.
Baltes said he did not know much about Bergoglio before his election as pope. As he learned about his life, however, he was impressed by what he learned.
“He (Bergoglio)) knows how to engage groups of people and send his message even in small ways,” Baltes said. “He seems to imitate Jesus’s message that we should not live to be served but to serve, a message of the gospels.”
Baltes said he was not surprised the cardinals at the Vatican decided to elect a man from the Western hemisphere because there has been dramatic growth in the number of Catholics in Latin America in recent decades.
Pope Francis I will not make momentous changes in church doctrine, in Baltes’s opinion.
“He will address issues from a different perspective, though,” he said. “His style will be different, too. He will teach the need to reach out to the poor, to take care of those among us, the least among us. That is critical – always to remember the least among us. There will be changes in his life, as in the need for security.”
Baltes said the pope’s choice for a name is a good indication he intends to follow the examples set by St. Francis of Assisi, the Italian friar who founded the Franciscan Order in Italy nearly 800 years ago. St. Francis was deeply dedicated to the poor and lived a life of chosen poverty even though he had been born in a well-to-do family.
“Even at his recent Mass, Pope Francis talked about caring for all of creation and for God’s people, which was the message of St. Francis,” Baltes said. “We are very excited about the direction we think the pope will take the church.”
There are about 1,700 households in the Sartell area whose members are parishioners at St. Francis Xavier.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.