MANCHESTER — Via video-hookup, soon-to-be Cardinal Gerald Lacroix told Trinity High School students, "I am a Pioneer," on Tuesday, a declaration that drew as much jubilation as a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
Cardinal-designate Lacroix spoke to Trinity students via a Skype audio-video hookup. It is the first time the 1975 Trinity graduate has spoken to students at his alma mater since Pope Francis earlier this month announced he would elevate Lacroix, the current archbishop of Quebec, to cardinal.
"My name is Gerald Lacroix, and I am a Pioneer," he started the call, which followed with students standing, cheering and fist-pumping.
In fact, the response was so enthusiastic that it loosened the power cord to the projector, causing a momentary loss of the Lacroix video feed. Lacroix obviously enjoyed being back at Trinity, if only in a digital sense.
"I did all my high school where?" he prompted the crowd. "I will never forget those years. That small high school — we're not the biggest; we are the best."
Next month, Lacroix is scheduled to travel to Rome, where he and 18 others will be formally elevated to cardinal.
As cardinal, he will be among 120 men who will one day elect a new pope, Lacroix said. In the meantime, he will give counsel and advice to Pope Francis.
"I didn't apply for this job. Believe me, I have enough work," Lacroix said.
He called Francis extraordinary — "a daily surprise; you never know what he is going to do next." He promised to visit Trinity soon. He asked the students to pray for him, and he ended the call with "I love you, guys."
One thing Lacroix didn't say is that cardinal puts him, at a relatively young 56 years, in possible line for pope one day. That was not lost on students.
If the Catholic church continues in the direction it has under Francis, they could very well see a Pope Gerald one day, said Kasie Bourque, a senior.
"He's a lot like Pope Francis," said Joseph Lamontagne, another senior.
Bourque noted that Trinity has a wall in the gymnasium that recognizes students who have gone on to become professional athletes. "To add a cardinal to it is so Trinity," she said.
"It shows that just because you come from a small state doesn't mean you can't do amazing things," Bourque said.