Rochester's retired bishop, Matthew Clark, had audience with the Pope on several occasions. He was just as surprised as other local Catholics by the resignation.
Catholics around the world woke up to a day that appeared just like any other Monday.
Or so they thought.
"I think we are all quite surprised, but in many ways I was not shocked,” said Father Kevin McKenna.
At Sacred Heart Cathedral, noon mass was punctuated by the decision of the church's Holy Father to step down.
"I'm sure it's out of great solitude and care for the church that he has made this very difficult decision,” McKenna said.
Pope Benedict's decision to resign took parishioners by surprise.
"I'm very shocked and sorry to hear it because he seemed to be doing a good job, but nothing will surprise you anymore, what's going on. But we hate to see him leave,” said Lillian Scarantino.
"I'm happy about it. It's very appropriate at this time. I'm very positive. I'm very happy that this is happening,” said Ann Crilly.
The Pope indicates he lacks the strength, at age 85, to carry on, invoking prayers for his well-being.
"This is a time for us in the church to express our gratitude for the service offered to us by the Holy Father but also for us to begin in earnest, our prayer for the successor,” McKenna said.
The resignation of the Pope could have an impact on another issue of high importance to local Catholics. Bishop Matthew Clark tendered his resignation back in September, and as yet that position has not been filled.
"My guess is, bottom line, if it does anything it might lengthen the time but that's pure speculation,” Clark said.
The Bishop Emeritus praised Pope Benedict for realizing his human limitations.
“I admire very much what he's done. I think it's very wise. It sets an extraordinarily good example. It puts the papacy in a more understandable human framework,” said Clark.
Clark characterized Pope Benedict as a warm, caring, spiritual leader. As for the demands of the job, Clark wonders how any man can keep up with them.
For strength, for the pope's successor, he'll pray.
"I think life will go on pretty much as usual,” Clark said.