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Cardinal Blase J. Cupich blesses 30 rosaries, a cross and a crucifix Mary Tyner of St. Mary Parish in Bellevue brought in a cloth bag from her home to a Dec. 30 vespers service at St. Cecilia Cathedral celebrating the cardinal’s elevation to the College of Cardinals. Cardinal Cupich was pastor of St. Mary Parish from 1987 to 1989. Photo by Joe Ruff/Staff.

Cardinal comes home to family, friends, prayer

Just over a month after becoming the first native Nebraskan elevated to the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich led a vespers service in his hometown Dec. 30 to celebrate his new role in the church, offer prayers and see family and friends.

More than 650 people joined the cardinal at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, including Archbishop George J. Lucas, retired Bishop Anthony M. Milone, retired Benedictine Abbott Raphael Walsh and priests of the archdiocese.

Also attending were Cupich family members and friends Cardinal Cupich made through the years growing up in Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, and in his service as associate pastor or pastor of St. Margaret Mary and St. Robert Bellarmine parishes, both in Omaha, and St. Mary Parish in Bellevue.

Hymns and psalms sung by the St. Cecilia Cathedral Choir, which also sang at the Nov. 19 consistory in Rome when Cardinal Cupich and 16 other churchmen were created cardinals, rang through the cathedral.

"You really didn’t have to go to all this trouble," Cardinal Cupich told the congregation. "But I’m glad you did."

The service was held on the evening of the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and in his homily Cardinal Cupich reflected on the way Jesus’ early life with his parents shaped his ministry. Jesus learned how to be a servant, not only from his parents but also by listening to God the Father, to the point of giving his life for others, Cardinal Cupich said.

Jesus also listened to the elders in his community, had the courage to learn and take risks, he said.

Every Christian is called to do the same, Cardinal Cupich said, stressing that his late parents, eight siblings, teachers and friends influenced him.

Growing up in a family of nine children, Cardinal Cupich said, he learned that everyone has their own opinion. "And eight children had to learn, though it took some a little longer, that I was always right," he said, to laughter. "I’m going to hear about that later …"

Being raised in the ethnically diverse neighborhoods of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in south Omaha also helped him appreciate the differences among people, Cardinal Cupich said.

"For the longest time as a child I thought a foreign language was speaking English with an accent," he said.

Many of the people who influenced Cardinal Cupich greeted him in a receiving line after vespers, exchanging well wishes and sharing stories. Members of St. Mary Parish presented Cardinal Cupich with six large cards of congratulations and hundreds of signatures from people the cardinal has known.

At the reception, Archbishop Lucas said he was grateful so many people were able to come.

"It’s such a wonderful and unique event, we wanted to celebrate," Archbishop Lucas said. "He has a particular role now in being of assistance to Pope Francis in the governance of the church."

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