SPOKANE, Wash. -

Local Catholics are celebrating now that the church has a new pope after white smoke billowed out of the Sistine Chapel and less than an hour later 1.2 billion Catholics around the world were introduced to Pope Francis.

Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio took the name Pope Francis for Francis of Assisi. He is the first Jesuit pope and the first pope from the Americas.

On the Gonzaga University campus Wednesday there was a great deal for the new pope and because it is so rare to see a day when white smoke billows from a chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, the signal that the Papal Conclave has elected a new pope.

"(It's a) great day for the Catholic Church," Cheryl Fitzpatrick said.

The bells at Our Lady of Lourdes rang out at noon at the start of the daily mass but Wednesday churches across the world chimed in joy for the new pontiff.

"It's really surprising. I didn't expect it," Fitzpatrick said.

She missed the announcement on television because she was hearing it from her priest and is excited Pope Francis is from South America and is a Jesuit.

"Hopefully that will inspire all of our Jesuits at Gonzaga, and I think it's really exciting," she said.

At Gonzaga Jesuit priest Father Hightower was surprised by the announcement.

"We normally don't become bishops and cardinals. That's kind of against what we do, but at the same time if it's for the betterment of the church, we respond to the church," he said.

Jesuits are an order of the Catholic Church who are teachers and are known for founding schools and naming them after Jesuits like St. Aloysius Gonzaga. Father Hightower said Pope Francis -- like their order -- are considered to be simple.

"That shows a good sign of what his personality is like. He did simple prayers that children could participate in, that the people in the square could participate in, and people around the world could participate in," Hightower said.

Father Hightower said he's read diaries of cardinals from the last conclave when Pope Benedict was elected. In that conclave Pope Francis was considered the runner-up.

Others hope the selection of Pope Francis, the first non-European pope since Pope Gregory III in the eighth century, means a change in thinking and a pope that can unite the church.

"Well, I hope that this means maybe a new direction because the church needs to maybe progress a little bit," Julie Lehman said.

"I just hope somebody that can continue the tradition of the church and yet is able to deal with the issues that we're facing in today's world too," Sabrina Hasenoehrl said.