RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This past week, we spoke with spoke with father Mike McGovern. He is the pastor of the Church of St. Mary in Lake Forest, Illinois. He told us what the pope means to the church at large.
FATHER MIKE MCGOVERN: I think that in the minds and the hearts of most Catholics in the world and certainly here in the parish, the Holy Father is very important because they understand that when Christ established the church and he made Peter the Apostle the first pope that Peter is the shepherd of the whole church and his successors are that sign of unity. So, I think all the people in the parish, they feel good that there is a shepherd for the whole church globally, just like I'm their local shepherd here in my parish.
MARTIN: Did any of your parishioners come to you with concerns or worries after Pope Benedict stepped down?
MCGOVERN: Well, people, we all - I think felt a little funny because nobody had any experience of a pope resigning. And when people are trying to absorb, well, why did he resign, what does this mean and what will he do, there was a lot of questions in the air for at least a week when people were wondering, well, what does this mean? I think really, to be honest, Rachel, it's only with the election of a new pope that people, I think, have the kind of stability and security to wrestle with, now, what is the role of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI?
MARTIN: So, it's been an exciting week, as you have mentioned but you still have your own pastoral duties to take care of. Do you know how you will incorporate this event, the election of Pope Francis, into your homily, if at all?
MCGOVERN: Absolutely. So, preaching this weekend, the second record, the Epistles from St. Paul writing to the Philippians, and the talks about, you know, I have accounted all as rubbish so that Christ may be my wealth and I may be in Him. And so that sense of where do you find your true treasure in life, you know, there's a wonderful story about a woman in Buenos Aires who came to Archbishop Bergoglio asking for his help. She had not baptized her children. And because she felt like she needed to have a social get-together afterward, but she couldn't afford it - she was too poor. So, he said, well, I'll baptize them, and he did, and then he provided, Bergoglio provided the sandwiches and soda pop afterward so they could have this little get-together. And the woman said to him you make me feel important.
So, I think that's a marvelous anecdote about our new Holy Father, and also that sense of recognizing the dignity of people who maybe they're poor or destitute but their human dignity is always there and we're meant to cherish that dignity and to affirm it.
MARTIN: And I have to ask, do you think you're going to get better than usual attendance at Mass this weekend?
MCGOVERN: Well, I think part of it will be it's St. Patrick's Day too and part of it's the snowbirds coming back. But I think there is a kind of renewed pride with the new Holy Father. Even people maybe who've lapsed a little in the practice of the faith, with all the news, I mean, it's been an incredible amount of publicity in these last weeks where people will say, well, I want to make sure I make it Mass on Sunday, I want to make sure I make it to church because this is a new moment. And also it's a moment happening just as we're getting a little bit closer to Holy Week and to Good Friday and to Easter Sunday.
MARTIN: Father Mike McGovern. He is pastor of St. Mary's in Lake Forest Illinois. Thanks so much for talking with us, Father.
MCGOVERN: You're most welcome. Thank you. God bless you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.