Santa Barbara, Calif. -

What does the Pope's resignation mean to local parishioners?

The announcement Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down, caught the Catholic community off guard.

“I was shocked,” says Michelle Limb, principal at St. Raphael School.

“I think most people were surprised like I was this morning,” adds John Vasellina, Director of Youth Ministries at St. Raphael Church.

The spiritual leader took over as pope in 2005.  Now nearly 86 years old, he says his mind and body are no longer up for the job.

“The first word that came to me was humility.  To be humble enough to walk away from such a powerful position…shows great leadership,” says Limb.

There's already speculation over who will succeed the pope.

“I wouldn't suspect any pope would come in and change policies of the church that have been in place for thousands of years, nor would they elect a pope that's so liberal and try to change things,” explains Vasellina.

“It’s an exciting time for our church,” says Limb.

Whoever it is will be chosen by the college of cardinals later this month.

Limb says she plans to use this time as a learning experience for students--most have only known Pope Benedict in their lifetime.

She says this will give teachers an opportunity to talk about the process of choosing a new pope.