MONTECITO, Calif. - Time magazine named Pope Francis its Person of the Year.
The pope has been the leader of the Catholic Church for less than a year but has made big changes.
Local priests said Francis is an inspiration not only to them as they lead parishes, but to the world.
Francis has given the church a whole new look in a short amount of time. Time said he's changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution.
"I hear it all the time, non-Catholics come up to me and say, 'What do you think of our new pope?' And I always want to say, 'It's off the charts, it's wonderful.' So I think he's energized them as much as the Catholic community," said Father Larry Gosselin, of St. Barbara Parish.
Gosselin and his fellow priests think Francis appeals to many different groups because he's open to different perspective who may have been ignored in the past.
"He's also reached out to marginalized people, to gay people, to non Catholics, to athiests, to agnostics, he's been extraordinary in that regard," said Fr. Mario Preitto, of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish.
The pope was chosen to lead the church in March and has since made finances more transparent, he's set up a commission to investigate sex abuse and changed the inner circle of advisers to diversify them.
Fr. Jon Love of Saint Mark's Parish in Isla Vista thinks he also has made the church more inviting to the younger generations.
"Well they love him. Youth are magnetically drawn to good leaders and I think our pope has proven himself already that he's reaching out to young people. I remember the World Youth Day where he went to Rio this past summer and a few of our students went down and just fell in love with him there. So there's a clear appeal that he has to young people there," said Love.
The pope also has a Twitter account with more than 3 million followers.
"He tweets and I don't know if he's on Facebook but I am," said Love with a laugh.
Pope Francis beat out former NSA analyst Edward Snowden and Miley Cyrus for the title, which the magazine has been giving out every year since 1927.