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Could the next pope have a connection to Berks County?

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Mar 11 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 13 2013 02:12:28 PM CDT

Could next pope have ties to Berks?

WEST READING, Pa. -

Some are wondering if the next pope could be an American with ties to Berks County.

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley is one of the favorite contenders for pope, said Vatican analysts, and O'Malley has a West Reading school full of students praying for him.

Students at Sacred Heart in West Reading prayed the rosary just like Cardinal O'Malley did when he was in grade school.

"Once Pope Benedict resigned we started talking about the possibility that we could have a pope who's a graduate from Sacred Heart School," said Kathy Napolitano, the principal of Sacred Heart, "So the students are excited."

The Boston Cardinal graduated from Sacred Heart in 1958.

"Our school prays for him and I know that he prays for us," said Napolitano.

But Sacred Heart isn't the only church praying for Cardinal O'Malley.

Spanish speaking members of Saint Peters' Church are singing his praises too. Sister Eloina Alvarez, who runs the Kennedy House soup kitchen in Reading, has known Cardinal O'Malley since the early 70s when he was Father Sean in Washington, D.C.

"He dedicated his life to help the Spanish community," said Sister Eliona Alvarez.
Sister Eloina is from Argentina. She said when she saw O'Malley last year he was still the same man.

"All the time very humble, friendly person," said Sister Eloina.

But she missed him on television when the beginning of the conclave aired for the first time.

"I didn't have time. I was working here," she said.

She had over 150 people relying on the bags of food she just packed. They are for a poor Spanish speaking population that she said O'Malley cares deeply about.

"He speaks Spanish very well," said Sister Eloina.

O'Malley speaks eight languages --an advantage for a possible pope. And Sister Eloina said she had no idea he went to school in West Reading.

"That's incredible," said Sister Eloina.

Sister Eloina said she knows three cardinals and she is praying for all of them.