The next time there is a papal election, it might be just as well to skip the white smoke/black smoke suspense and endless speculation on who will be elected pope. Just call up St. Dominic School in Northeast Philadelphia and find out what the seventh-grade kids think.
The seventh graders ran their own election the day before the cardinals decided, and you guessed it, the clear winner was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Here’s how it worked, according to Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Danielle Bernadette, who teaches grade seven.
The entire College of Cardinals was divided up with each student taking five or so cardinals to research. The students then picked one of them to represent at their “conclave” and then explain to his or her fellow “cardinals” what they had done and what they thought the Church should do.
Now in the Sistine Chapel conclave a two-thirds majority was needed for election. At St. Dominic School, because they wanted their decision before Rome’s, they settled for a simple majority. Voting was on Tuesday, March 12, the day before the cardinals finished voting.
At St. Dominic’s (where no one had to take an oath of secrecy), Cardinal Bergoglio received 16 votes out of 25, which really at 64 percent is just shy of the two- thirds needed in Rome.
Several of the St. Dominic electors were at the March 17 Mass in Thanksgiving for the Election of Pope Francis celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, where they brought up the offertory gifts. Among them was Melanie Dubenko, who researched Cardinal Bergoglio, and assumed his persona for her presentation.
“I think he is an amazing role model for the Catholic Church altogether,” she said. “He is a great example of giving to the poor and he is a great example of a Catholic.”
Marie Dale, who cast her vote for Cardinal Bergoglio after the presentations, said, “I felt it was ironic that the pope was our actual choice.”
Melanie’s presentation had a lot to do with the election, according to Brianna Serverson, who said, “It was very well put together. What she told us about him made me think he would be a very good pope.”
The seventh graders were at a computer class when the white smoke signaled the election of the new pope, but Sister Danielle Bernadette ran to tell them.
Never mind that the school day ended before the actual announcement, many students stayed behind to watch history unfold, and of course, were elated by the results.
It is pretty much an open secret Cardinal Bergoglio was the runner up in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI. At this St. Dominic Conclave the runner up was Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan.
What do you think for the next time around?
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103