Sunday marks first day of worship since Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Sunday, March 3rd marked the first Sunday since Pope Benedict XVI officially stepped down. Milwaukee-area Catholics gathered for worship on Sunday during this time of transition.

Some members at Old St. Mary Parish said Thursday's resignation of Pope Benedict XVI was bittersweet.

Pope Benedict XVI attributed his departure to waning energy and said he wants to dedicate himself to a life of private prayer.

"I totally understood and I really thought it was a brave decision. I thought it was great for him to think of us first," parishioner Caroline Lavery said.

Now, parishioners are praying for Pope Benedict XVI.

"We just want to makes sure he is okay and he is going to do everything he can now that he is retired to pray for us and really think of us," Lavery said.

Lavery says although the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church has not yet been chosen, the church still have direction.

"We do have a leader, he is just not human leader. We have God still and Jesus, so we are not completely alone," Lavery said.

Melissa Barta says the church has a strong foundation and members remain faithful that Pope Benedict XVI's successor will also serve wholeheartedly.

"I think the whole community has been praying that the cardinals make the decision that is correct for the church," Barta said.

Cardinals are making their way to Rome to elect the new pope, and Lavery has an idea of qualities she would like to see.

"I hope it's someone who can be aware of the different  needs of Catholics in different countries and parts of the world. It's going to be really exciting to see what happens next," Lavery said.

Some folks, like Barta say there's an upside to the transition.

"It's kind of exciting. We`ve been teaching our kids this is a really historic event and we get to see who is elected the new pope and we get to see the whole process -- to watch for the white smoke or black smoke," Barta said.

The cardinals who will elect the new pope will probably arrive in Rome early Monday or Tuesday. There, cardinals are expected to set a date for a special election, or conclave to pick the next pope.

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