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Archdiocesan native son named a cardinal

Archbishop Cupich served three parishes in Archdiocese of Omaha


Archbishop Blasé J. Cupich will become the first native of the Archdiocese of Omaha to wear the red hat of a cardinal when Pope Francis brings him and 16 other churchmen into the College of Cardinals Nov. 19.

Archbishop George J. Lucas expressed the archdiocese’s pride in the appointment.

"All of us in the archdiocese are proud that Pope Francis has chosen Archbishop Cupich to become one of his trusted collaborators," he said. "We will continue to support him with our prayers."

One of nine children born to the late Mary and Blasé Cupich of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Omaha and now the archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal-designate Cupich told his siblings early Oct. 9.

"He called me at 6:15 in the morning," said Rich Cupich, a Latin teacher at Creighton Preparatory School and member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha.

It was a short conversation, but enough to learn his brother would be a cardinal, Cupich said. Now, he and his wife, Diana, and other members of the Cupich family will make arrangements to be in Rome for the induction, he said.

His brother brings lots of experience, Cupich said, having served the parishes of St. Margaret Mary and St. Robert Bellarmine in Omaha and St. Mary in Bellevue, as well as other appointments that included bishop of Rapid City, S.D., from 1989 to 2010 and bishop of Spokane, Wash., until his appointment to Chicago in 2014.

"I think each place you go, you learn more, which helps hone your skills to be a leader," he said.

In Chicago, Cardinal-designate Cupich, 67, greeted the congregation at Holy Name Cathedral Oct. 9 with quips about the other news in town – the Chicago Marathon and the Cubs’ second playoff win – before acknowledging the news that Pope Francis had appointed him to the College of Cardinals.

Cardinal-designate Cupich said he was "deeply humbled" by the pope’s decision. He will join two other new cardinals from the United States: Cardinals-designate Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the new Vatican office for laity, family and life; and Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis.

In a brief news conference Oct. 9 following 11 a.m. Mass at the cathedral, Cardinal-designate Cupich said he is encouraged by his appointment. Asked if the

pope sent a message with his appointment, he said he heard that question frequently when he was named archbishop.

"I responded that the pope was sending not a message but a pastor," Cardinal-designate Cupich said.

Now, he said, he hopes he and the other cardinals can help Pope Francis in his mission. The root of the word cardinal is "cardio" meaning heart, and that demonstrates how close cardinals are to be to the chair of Peter, he said.

As for changes in his daily life, he said the Archdiocese of Chicago remains his priority although his role as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, which he was appointed to this summer, will place some demands on his time. The congregation’s main job is to identify and propose candidates to become bishops in dioceses in the Americas, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Cardinal-designate Cupich also is on several committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and he is chancellor of the Catholic Church Extension Society and the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein and executive board member of the Catholic Mutual Relief Society.

Since there had been speculation that he might be named a cardinal soon, members of the congregation at the Oct. 9 Mass he celebrated at the cathedral were happy but not really surprised.

Andy Cwik, who regularly attends Mass at Holy Name, said: "I was surprised it was today, but in general, it was expected. The archbishop of Chicago has always been a cardinal."

But no diocese or archdiocese automatically has its bishop named to the College of Cardinals. Some archdioceses who have had cardinals at the helm in the past no longer do, and some that have not had cardinals, such as the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, will now have one.


Catholic News Service contributed to this report

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