Triangle woman has connection to new pope

Pope Francis looks out at the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

March 13, 2013 8:12:59 PM PDT
A local woman, who now lives in the Triangle, has a connection to new pontiff.

Alicia Rico-Lazarowski's mother was teaching at a school in Buenos Aires several years ago when she met Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who has now become Pope Francis.  

A group of people from Argentina who spoke to ABC11 said they were surprised to hear that the new pope was from Argentina. They expected someone from Brazil to be next in line.

When they heard Wednesday's announcement, they were very surprised.

"He's going to be like the pope of the people," said Rico-Lazarowski.

He's a pope of the people, with whom Rico-Lazarowski has a personal connection.

"My mother who is actually spending our winter in Argentina knows the pope," she said.

Rico-Lazarowski said her mother met the now Pope Francis when she worked at the Jesuit Catholic School in Buenos Aires.

When the news broke that he would be the new head of the Catholic Church, Rico-Lazarowski said she got on the phone.

"I called her immediately," she said. "She couldn't talk. She was so emotional she just couldn't say a word over the phone."

It was an excitement echoed by fellow native Argentineans we spoke to.

"I was jumping up and down. It was a big surprise," said Argentinean Roberto Restucha.

They all said Pope Francis is a humble man who will do great things in helping the poor and unifying the church around the world.  They said he is a man who, even while moving up in the church, always made time to visit old friends.

"When she moved to the U.S., he came to her farewell party the school the party for her," said Rico-Lazarowski.

That was eight years ago, and now Rico-Lazarowski said her mother will make it a priority to visit him one day at the Vatican.

The group we spoke to said, at one time, the new pope was quite the dancer himself.

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