Before the new pope was elected, Terri Foster, a member of secular Franciscans at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Silver Lake, said to a friend, “I wish [the new pope] would take the name of Francis.”Imagine her reaction when that wish came true. “I was stunned,” she exclaimed before the parish’s Vigil Mass March 16. “I couldn’t believe it.”But she and fellow parishioners at the parish just west of downtown L.A. were understandably delighted that newly-elected Pope Francis chose his papal name for their parish’s patron saint.“We are so happy — it’s just amazing,” said Lydia Emnace who was helping with the preparation for the 5 p.m. Mass. “We are so honored to share that name. We are so proud. And I see the humility in his voice, and that is inspiring.”Wilfredo Penoliar, a parishioner since 1974, said he’d read about the pope, “and I know that he identifies with the poor, and that sounds good to me. I’m a poor guy,” he smiled. “So I was happy to hear that he took the name Francis, who gave his life to the poor. His preaching and teaching was all about coming back to God.”The new pope’s humility also made an impression on Franciscan Father Salvadore Parisi, who admitted that he first thought Pope Francis “was a Franciscan because of the name he chose.”“[St. Francis] was all about the poor and his life was simple,” noted the priest in residence at the Silver Lake parish at Sunset and Golden Gate. “He related to the people and was moved by Christ. His message back then is the same as that of Pope Francis: ‘Center our lives on Christ.’”Because of his appeal to non-Catholics, St. Francis was able to bridge faiths back in his time — something Father Parisi hopes Pope Francis will be able to do today.“I read that he takes public transportation and cooks his own meals,” he added. “That’s a good message for all of us.”“St. Francis has always been a man of the people, so down-to-earth and relatable,” noted Mike Lew, parishioner and graduate of St. Francis of Assisi school. “I think that reflects our parish. We aren’t fancy or extravagant.”“I am glad he is trying to walk with St. Francis as pope,” said Ben Mamaril, parish lector. “St. Francis was like one of us, a regular person. What does this tell us?”Renee Stampolis, another secular Franciscan, said parishioners were “filled with Franciscan joy” when they heard the news, noting that St. Francis “wasn’t just ministering to the physical poor. It was also about reaching out to the poor in spirit.”She hopes the new pope will, like St. Francis, identify with the environment and encourage people to be better stewards of the Earth. “The message of St. Francis is that whatever God gives you, think of it as a gift, even if it’s not what you thought you wanted.”Arlene Knight, parishioner, said the pope’s name “symbolizes a people of hope and involvement and unity for everyone. It’s very exciting and it feels like a new start. I think people who are not Catholic will be able to relate to him.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0322/popesilverlake/{/gallery}