HOUSTON -

As the conclave continues, many Catholics and non Catholics are paying close attention and praying that the cardinals choose the right leader for the future of the church.

It’s a process shrouded with secrecy and tradition. But as the images of the cardinal conclave are broadcast around the world, students at the University of St. Thomas (UST) are keeping one eye on their studies, and the other on the election of the new pope.

“I feel this is a very interesting and unique time,” said Jim Peck, a student UST. “We have a conclave, a pope that’s resigned and we’re looking at the future of the church.”

Rev. Anthony Giampietro, C.S.B., an assistant professor in the philosophy department, believes that the election of the new pope has placed a greater awareness of the church. He described the moment as “profound” and “momentous” and said that it is impossible to compare the cardinal conclave to any other process in the world.

“They place themselves before one another and before God and they say, ‘I’m doing this to the best of my ability as best as I can, making a judgment about who will be pope,” said Giampietro.

For many University of St. Thomas students, this is not the first time they’ve witnessed the election of a new pope, but it is the first time a pope has resigned in their lifetime and that a new one is being chosen to replace him.

“The pope is going to be a father for the whole world and that father needs to know how to relate to all human beings whether they are young or whether they are old,” said student Daniel DeHaan.

The combination of television coverage, the internet and social media brings the conclave closer than ever to students, many of whom said they are set to get a notification on their phones as soon as a new pope is chosen. Most said they are confident the cardinals won’t succumb to outside pressure and will choose someone who will be guided by the Holy Spirit.

“Also someone who will be able to connect with younger people and focus on the new evangelization,” said Esther Hudson, a UST student.