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New Pope Makes Local Catholics HopefulSubmitted: 03/14/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

New Pope Makes Local Catholics Hopeful
RHINELANDER - The world spent the last few days looking to the roof of the Sistine Chapel for white smoke. Yesterday we met the new Pope for the first time.

But he takes control of the Catholic Church at a challenging time. Still, Northwoods Catholics are confident.

As tens of thousands of faithful watched for white smoke in St. Peter's square, more than a billion Catholics around the world waited to find out who their new leader would be. That included students right here at Nativity of our Lord Catholic School in Rhinelander.

"The kids were really excited. And then we prayed for him that he would lead us, lead the church in so many wonderful ways into the future," says Mary Mangerson, a Nativity Kindergarten Teacher.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina made history Wednesday in more than one way. He's the first non-European Pope in nearly 2,000 years.

"It's a very positive and very historical change. Because the developing world is being represented now, where many of the poor and marginalized are being left behind," says Father Tom Thakadipuram.

He's also the first Pope to choose the name Francis, after Saint Francis of Assisi. One of the things he represents is rebuilding the Church.

"He heard that call to rebuild the church. I think that is the main message now. Because the Church has been wrought with different issues," says Father Tom.

The Papacy and future of the Catholic Church has been the focal point of international news for weeks. Every network has been on Pope-watch for days. Non Catholics KNOW the Pope's kind of a big deal, but why? What does the Pope mean to Catholics?

"We know that leaders are important to us in our everyday lives and as a Catholic we look to our leaders to guide us in our faith," says Stacie Simkins, a Nativity 2nd Grade Teacher.

"He becomes the face of Christ. He becomes the face of stability and at the same time inspiration to the new world," says Father Tom.

"I think it's a feeling of belonging; everyone belongs to this family, and he is the leader of our family," says Mangerson.

As the world learns more about this reportedly humble man from Buenos Aires, Catholics are hoping for someone up to the task of leading them through the challenges the Church faces.

"I think we need a leader who's pastoral. And he appears to me to be someone who loves people and has a gentle spirit," says Mangerson.

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When she became a part of the group, she noticed they did a lot of events with PADD, People Against Distracted Driving.

She got involved in that cause by bringing it back to Eagle River for the UTV/ATV Championships.

Her and her family took the annual scavenger hunt and turned it into an event to bring awareness to PADD

Decker thinks her young age can help make an impact on other young drivers.

"It's not like we're 21 yet and drinking and driving. That's another bad thing, but this is becoming even worse. I want to hit all the young kids that follow me, even on my Instagram or Facebook," said Decker.

Once Decker gets across the serious message of PADD, then comes the actual scavenger hunt.

The participants in the event had some funny challenges.

"They had to do crazy stuff like get a picture with a purple sock and a high heel, and all these crazy things and stop at all the bars across Eagle River," said Decker.

If you would like to learn more about PADD, follow the link below.


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Lenore Ehlert, from Merrill, turned 100 years old on Wednesday.

"Well, actually, it doesn't feel much different, it's just another day," said Ehlert.

While celebrating that milestone, she found herself thinking of her husband who she lost 65 years ago.

Her husband, Merrill Police Captain, Elmer Krueger was shot and killed while on duty in July of 1952.

"July 19th and he died about three days later," said Ehlert.

Records from that time show an officer's death didn't lead to weeks of ceremonies and salutes like it does now.

"After the funeral, everything was just kind of forgotten," said Ehlert.

But decades later, it's not all forgotten. Merrill police officers, members of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and other first responders were all at the party to show that they were bonded for life after the tragedy years ago.

"It really is truly, that Lenore is part of our family," said Michael Caylor with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

In addition to law enforcement, Governor Scott Walker, Congressman Sean Duffy and Attorney General Brad Schimel all wrote Lenore letters wishing her a happy birthday.

"It's quite an honor and I know part of it is for my husband and his memory," said Ehlert.

Elmer's memory was seen all throughout Lenore's special day.

"Know that you're part of the law enforcement family. Elmer was a brother, most of us didn't know him, but he's a brother nonetheless," said Lincoln County Sheriff, Jeff Jaeger.

She was surrounded by friends and family helping her celebrate her 100 years.

"If we're all to live as old and to be as loved as yourself, what a wonderful world this is going to be," said Caylor.

When asked for advice on how to live to be 100, Lenore said to keep your mind and body active, and to eat good food.

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On Saturday, many people who grew up going to the church went back to celebrate its history.

"At four years old I started coming to Sunday school," said Elise Marheine who grew up going to the church.

"I was baptized here and I've been here just about ever since," said Skip Rice, who also grew up attending The Log Church.

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