The Roman Catholic Church is without a leader after Pope Benedict XVI officially resigned Thursday.
A seminarian from the Charlotte Diocese, studying in Rome, spoke with Eyewitness News via Skype about the historic experience and how it will help him serve Catholics in Charlotte.
Noah Carter has been studying in Rome for three years, but he said he's never felt closer to the church than now, after witnessing thousands of people from around the world travel to Vatican City to see the Pope.
"The words he has spoken to the whole church in this last week have been so intimate and loving," Carter said. "For the first time ever, I saw a Chinese flag at the audience in St. Peter's Square."
Carter studies at the Pontifical North America College. Cardinals from the United States and Canada often stay there, but Carter said seeing them as they prepare to elect a new pope in conclave is unique.
"There is more of a solemn sort of attitude around the house," he said.
Carter called it a blessing to witness the events in Rome and that experience will shape his future service in Charlotte.
"This is a very unique experience of the unity of the church, of the one body of Christ and the diversity of the church," he said. "There are Hispanics, Italians and I've met some French speakers in Charlotte parishes. That's what I think I’ll take away from this."
Carter will return to the Charlotte diocese to work with local priests this summer.
He has two more years of studying in Rome, and then he'll be assigned a local parish.