Miami's Catholic community is reacting and reflecting as Pope Benedict XVI entered his final day at the Vatican Thursday.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski released a statement looking back at Pope Benedict's service and looking forward to the next leader of the church.
"We thank God for the gift of this good servant of Jesus Christ, Pope Benedict," Wenski said. "We pray that the cardinals will be guided by the Holy Spirit as they elect a new pope — to be an 'instrument in the Lord’s hands' as he walks in the shoes of the Fisherman."
Dressed in a red velvet robe, Pope Benedict spent his final day meeting with the cardinals at the Apostolic Palace. He promised his "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor in his final words to the cardinals.
At 85 years old, he explained his retirement is for the church's good as his strength diminishes.
"Loving the church also means to have the courage to make difficult and arduous choices, having always in front of us the good of the church and not ourselves," he said.
Parishioners at St. David's Catholic Church in Davie were in agreement that the Pope did the right thing by stepping down and don't believe it will have any negative impact on the church.
"Of course this wasn't the normal process but I think this was a wise decision," parishioner Bob Loconto said. "I think because he had been with Pope John Paul II during his difficult period at the end, he recognizes when you're physically and mentally possibly unable to fulfill the obligations."
"This is the first time I heard that in my generation that a Pope cannot make it," Jackie Pierre-Louis said. "But if he feels sick you cannot deliver and somebody else have to do the job."
Wenski said the hope is that a new pontiff will be chosen by Easter.
"Recognizing the limitations that health and age have imposed on him, Pope Benedict XVI gave his 'two weeks’ notice' as it were," Wenski said. "Coming just before the beginning of Lent, there is sufficient time, I believe, for the cardinals to gather, to hold a conclave and elect a new Vicar of Christ in time for Holy Week and Easter."
Pope Benedict is expected to leave the Vatican at 2 p.m. Miami time. St. Mary's Cathedral at 7525 Northwest 2nd Avenue will open its doors at 1:45 for a prayer for Pope Benedict.