Parishioners at St. Francis of Assisi Church of Silver Lake have a little more reason to celebrate this weekend with a pontifical connection. The soon-to-be installed pope of the Roman Catholic Church has taken the name of St. Francis after the 12th Century Italian Catholic friar and preacher. It’s also the saint named for the Silver Lake parish which was established in 1920.
“We are so happy, it’s just amazing,” says Lydia Emnace who was helping with the preparation for the 5 p.m. Saturday Mass. “We are so honored to share that name. We are so proud.”
Many parishioners who gathered for the Saturday Mass pointed out St. Francis’ connection to the poor, his humility and his message of peace and forgiveness – all qualities they are seeing in the new pope. “[St. Francis] was all about the poor and his life was simple,” says Franciscan Father Salvadore Parisi. Because of his appeal to non-Catholics, St. Francis was able to bridge faiths back in his time – and that’s something Father Parisi hopes Pope Francis will be able to do today.
Like many, parishioner Mike Lew said “Oh wow!” when he heard that the new pope was taking the name of not only his church, but the elementary school that he attended and graduated from many years ago. St. Francis has always been a man of the people, says Lew and his attraction was that he was “so down-to-earth and relatable. I think that reflects our parish. We aren’t fancy or extravagant.”
Brenda Rees is a writer and resident of Eagle Rock