BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The room was full of adults who are coming into the Catholic faith, joined by many long time Catholic members. It was Our Lady of Fatima's weekly meeting for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
As they raised their voices to the Lord, they recognized this week's gathering is different. It's the final countdown with their church leader Pope Benedict XVI serving as their Holy Father.
They recalled the day he announced his resignation.
"I was quite surprised since it hasn't happened in 700 years," said Dr. Jerry Rodriguez.
"It wasn't anything I expected to hear in my lifetime," said Charlene Ross.
"It's a big responsible job. So, I think it's wise to be doing what he's doing," said Father Patrick Mockler.
The group reminisced on the Pope's eight year reign.
"He's a little different because he come up with some things that kind of surprised me, like he has a Twitter account," said Betty Jean Hughes.
"He's been a great shepherd of our church and we're going to miss him," said Dr. Rodriguez.
They have high hopes for what the next pope will bring to the church.
"I hope it's someone that God puts in there that's going to lead his people," said Nanette Butts.
"I'd like to see on from the United States, but I doubt that," said Betty Jean Hughes.
The Vatican would like a new pope in place before Easter week begins on March 24th. They're ready to turn the page and people on the Coast have a farewell message for Pope Benedict XVI.
"Well done," said Dr. Rodriguez.
"I love you," said Ross.
"I hope that he has a long life ahead of him," said Hughes.
Soon, Pope Benedict XVI will leave the church to dedicate himself to prayer and meditation and you can guarantee Catholics across the Coast, too, will be praying without ceasing for the person to fill his shoes as Holy Father.