DENVER - Young Catholics gathered outside the state capitol Wednesday celebrating the new pope.
The excitement in the crowd was palpable as they marched from Civic Center Park to a special mass at the Denver cathedral.
The choice of a Hispanic pope seems to be energizing many Catholics, and not just Latinos.
A lot of Catholics are hoping Pope Francis will be able to use his enormous influence for what they call "the new evangelization."
They hope the pope will reach more people, teach the Catholic message, and help rebuild the church.
The group, led by Brigid DeMoor, chanted "Habemus papam! [We have a new Pope] His name is Francis!"
DeMoor's husband, Seth DeMoor, runs the Catholic website www.onebillionstories.com and helped organize the rally.
"I am so excited as a young Catholic at the news of Pope Francis, because I know that he is a man of integrity," Brigid DeMoor said.
She hopes the story of Saint Francis will shape the actions of the new pope.
"God appeared to him and said Francis, I need you to rebuild my church," DeMoor said.
DeMoor, and others, believe rebuilding the church today is critical.
Years of headline-making scandals, and a perception that the church is out of touch, have pushed away many of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Only 25 percent attend mass on a regular basis, down from 75 percent 40 years ago.
Regis University President Father John P. Fitzgibbons, S.J., believes the new Pope has the power to bring Catholics back into the fold.
"This is a new day," Fitzgibbons said. "This is a person dedicated to doing good."
Francis is the first Pope from Latin America, home to around 40 percent of the world's Catholics.
Francis is also the first Jesuit pope, and has served as an advocate for the poor.
As a cardinal in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he lived a simple life and took the bus to work.
"It's a remarkable first. It's a series of firsts," Fitzgibbons said.
Just hours into the new papacy, the first papal merchandise is selling fast.
"I'm wearing the habemus papam shirt. Rally for the pope," t-shirt creator Dave Hazen said.
A crowd of young faces were clearly embracing a new leader, and a new era for the Catholic Church.
"Clearly very young, very enthusiastic, and they love the pope," Hazen said.
Choosing a name no pope has chosen before, many Catholics consider a sign of rebirth.
They hope Francis will be the pope who leads this church out of crisis, and brings back those millions of Catholics who drifted away.
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