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.
PHILLIPS - The Price County Sheriff's Office wants to find out what it needs to do to get a K-9 officer. Sheriff Brian Schmidt believes a new dog would improve the office's ability to find drugs.
The county doesn't have its own K-9 officer. However, they do turn to other departments for help.
"What we would utilize is surrounding counties, and it is at their discretion," Schmidt said. "Like Rhinelander, we utilize their dog on occasion, maybe once or twice a year. But again, it is their dog, so they have their needs come first. So if we have our own equipment, our needs are met with our equipment."
VILAS COUNTY - Vilas County finally got what it wanted. For fifteen years, the county had needed someone to act as a full-time Recreational Officer--someone to monitor public safety on the snowmobile and ATV trails as well as the lakes and rivers. Now, Vilas County Deputy Sheriff Randy Schneider will fill that role.
VILAS COUNTY - Many snowmobile trails in Eagle River still need more grooming after all three trail groomers went out of service. The trails didn't get groomed for four days last week because all three of the Sno-Eagles Snowmobile Club's trail groomers need repairs.
The club hasn't had all of their groomers working for a couple of weeks. Sno-Eagles President Ken Storms said the trails took a big hit last week when all three went down. The club says it has made a concerted effort to catch up with trail grooming, and get the trails smoothed out.
WISCONSIN - The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling received a record number of phone calls to the helpline in 2014â€"14,731 to be exact. This is a 5.6 percent increase from calls received in 2013.
Some of the callers reported having to file for bankruptcy or having thoughts of suicide. The report from the Council also calculated $47,000 as the average gambling debt of callers in 2014, and $20,000 as the median debt.
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