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The Diocese of Dallas has about 1.2 million Catholics; the Diocese of Fort Worth counts more than 720,000.

Many of them undoubtedly share a keen interest in what happened at the Vatican on Tuesday.

Bells rang out at churches and at Catholic schools after Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was revealed as Pope Benedict's successor.

Students at the University of Dallas watched along with millions of others as the dramatic events unfolded live from Rome.

Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell expects to see some obvious differences between Pope Francis and Benedict XVI.

"Pope Benedict was much more the professorial type, and whereas I think Pope Francis will be somebody who will be out in the street," Bishop Farrell said.

One of the first questions the bishop was asked was about the age of Pope Francis, who is 76. Farrell said he expects Francis to lead the church for at least the next decade.

A group of Dallas students from Bishop Lynch High School were in Rome as history was being made at St. Peter's Square. While they weren't there to see the white smoke emerging from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, they could definitely feel the energy.

"When we all found out, it was an incredible moment," one student told us via Skype. "One of our friend's moms is actually at the Vatican right now when it happened, and she texted one of our choir members that white smoke had appeared. And when she announced it ... there was just a tangible buzz in the room and everyone was looking at each other and screaming, and you could tell when you could look another choir member in the eye that you just knew this was an unbelieveable moment that you'd never feel again, being in Rome when a pope was elected. So it was beyond astounding."

Other North Texans are celebrating the ascension of Francis.

"God bless the new pope," wrote Richard Laird on the WFAA Facebook page. "Woke up this morning a cardinal; going to bed a pope. Anything can happen in one day."

You can share your thoughts at the WFAAFacebook page, or in the comments section below.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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