Rev. John Higgins of the Assumption Church in Peekskill said someone jokingly sent him a text that they would provide him with a reference.
The joke didn't completely register until he heard the news on the radio.
Pope Benedict XVI is resigning at the end of the month, due to age and health concerns.
"I'm shocked," Higgins said. "It hasn't happened in 600 years. But, at the same, he realized that his deteriorating health has limited his ability to serve. I admire his humility."
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement earlier today.
"The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did," Dolan stated. "His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter."
Rev. Francis J. Samoylo, of St. Columbanus Church in Cortlandt Manor, said he realized that Benedict's health wasn't the best. But he was still surprised by this morning's announcement.
"It's not like it's something that hasn't been done before," Samoylo said, pointing to the resignation of Gregory XII in 1415. "He knows his mental and physical condition and is making the decision he feels is best for himself and his family."