ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - For thousands of Catholics here in New Mexico Pope Benedict's last day as head of the church was met with sadness for his leaving but also with hope for what's ahead.
Just as Pope Benedict XVI reign over the Catholic Church came to an end at noon Thursday, dozens of parishioners were gathering for mass at Risen Savior Church in northeast Albuquerque.
The Pope's decision to leave as head of the church comes after eight years as leader of the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide.
Worshipers who spoke to KRQE News 13 had good things to say about the Pope and his decision to leave.
"He's a very brilliant man and he's done a lot for the church and is a very holy man and I think we're going to miss him very much," Martha Madrid told News 13.
"He was very brave to make his decision for the good of the church and so I wish him the best and I know that he's going to continue to serve the Lord," Gertrude Gutierrez said.
This time of transition comes during the season of Lent in the church, traditionally a time of reflection and sacrifice.
"I think it's a wonderful gift that Benedict has given to us and the church is this opportunity for to recognize that the ministry goes beyond the man," Friar Tim Martinez said Thursday.
Who the next Pope will be is still unknown, but church leaders expect the new pope will be elected and installed by Easter. Easter is considered to be a time of renewal.
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