Jesuit from Pittsburgh serves in new pope's homeland
The Jesuit house in Cordova, Argentina, where Pope Francis once called home.
Room No. 6 at the principal Jesuit house in Cordoba, Argentina, where Father Capuano said the Jesuits will probably have to put up a sign: "Pope Francis I slept here."
The Rev. Vincent Capuano, a Jesuit priest who is a native of Brookline, takes a photo of himself in Argentina.
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The Rev. Vincent Capuano was taking a much-needed siesta Wednesday afternoon -- he had ridden an overnight bus through Argentina from Buenos Aires to Cordoba -- when he was awakened by noise coming from the television room of the house where he was staying.
His fellow Jesuits told the Brookline native that the white smoke signaling a new pope had just risen over the Vatican, and with the rest of the world, they waited to see who the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church would be.
The name, once revealed, was one they knew well: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires.
"We just looked at each other," said Father Capuano. "Nobody said anything."
There they were, shocked into silence, at the principal Jesuit house in the city of Cordoba, a residence that dates to the 17th century and where, two decades ago, a man who would one day be pope lived in a little room out on a patio, a room no one occupies currently because it requires walking out in the cold to get to the bathroom.
Father Capuano, reached by telephone Thursday, said reporters had been coming by since the announcement to see Room No. 6, and said the Jesuits will probably have to put up a sign: "Pope Francis I slept here."
Raised in Brookline, Father Capuano attended Resurrection School and graduated in 1972 from South Hills Catholic High School, now Seton-La Salle.
He went to Clarion University, then received a master's in education from the University of Pittsburgh, and for one year in the 1980s, he was the head basketball coach at Thiel College in Mercer County.
He decided to join the Jesuits, and at age 44, he was ordained.
Now 58, he has been living in Argentina since 2000, currently serving in Salta, located in the northwestern corner of Argentina, a poor, remote area.
In more than a decade in Argentina, he never crossed paths with the man who is now pope, but he knows a great deal about him from other Jesuits.
"He's a man of prayer. He's a man of the people. He is highly respected among his clergy.
"He's not one for pretenses and ceremonies and things like that. He's very down to earth," Father Capuano said.
Father Capuano said he thinks his fellow Jesuit will have a mixed reception from the world.
"I think he will disappoint traditionalists and he will disappoint liberals," he said. "He's not going to change Catholic teaching. He is not going to promote the Latin Mass, either."
The simple archbishop of Buenos Aires has continued his simple ways as pope, declining some of the trappings of the papacy, and Father Capuano said that although Pope Francis is not one for ceremony or formality, as pontiff, he will have to adjust.
"One of the things will be that he has to learn to be pope," he said.
First Published March 15, 2013 4:30 pm