In this 2010 file photo, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, middle, celebrates Mass with Father Bill Stoeger, left, and Father Chris Corbally. The selection Wednesday of Argentine Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new Pope was an  “inspiring choice.”

A.E. Araiza/Arizona Daily Star/2010

Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas was surprised at today’s choice of a new pontiff.

Speaking by telephone from Baltimore where he is at a meeting with the national group Catholic Relief Services, Kicanas said he had not previously heard that the former Argentine Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was among those who might be named.

Kicanas, who has never met the new pontiff, called Bergoglio an “inspiring choice,” citing among other things the fact that the new Pope Francis is a Spanish speaker, which will give him an added connection to Tucson-area Catholics.

“This is a historic day for the church and for the world really,” Kicanas said. “He’s known as a very holy man. A man who is deeply in love with the Lord and understands what it means to serve, and certainly understands the Lord’s call to his apostles that if they want to be great they need to serve.”

Pope Francis is the world’s first Jesuit pontiff.

“We’re very happy, this is good,” said Father Sean Carroll, a Jesuit who is executive director of the Kino Border Initiative along the Arizona/Mexico border.

Carroll said the “charisma” of the Jesuit order is to be available to followers.

“This is the ultimate act of availability,” he said.

Kicanas will lead a service to pray for the future of Pope Francis at noon on Friday at the downtown St. Augustine Cathedral.

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Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.