Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, who grew up in Omaha’s Ss. Peter and Paul Parish and attended the parish school, takes questions from students at the school during an Oct. 23 visit. MIKE MAY/STAFF

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Cardinal Cupich Pays Omaha Homecoming Visit

“Make your life count.”

That was one of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich’s admonitions to students at Ss. Peter and Paul School in Omaha during a visit to the parish and school Oct. 23.

The cardinal, who grew up in the parish and attended the school, requested the visit when phoning to make a contribution to a scholarship fund established by his siblings in their parents’ names.

Cardinal Cupich, who is archbishop of Chicago, celebrated an all-school Mass and led a question-and-answer session with sixth- through eighth-grade students afterward. In his homily, he referred to the day’s readings in which people are encouraged to “stay awake,” or, as he said, “pay attention.” He encouraged students to pay attention to several things.

First, he spoke about the commitment and sacrifices of those who founded the parish and built the original and current church, and the school.

“Those people who built those churches and bought this property, not just for themselves, they bought it for you,” he said. “They looked to the future. They made sure that they would do something that would have lasting value for generations to come.”

“Make sure that you also look not only to what you’re going to do so that you benefit from it, but that you make a contribution to people that you’re never going to meet,” he told the students.

He also encouraged students to pay attention to the people around them, such as teachers and staff, who do things to make their school run.

“Every day, they work so that you have a place to come to school, that’s clean, that’s ready, that’s prepared. So pay attention to that,” he said.

“What that should say to you is that, if you begin to get it in your head that nobody cares for you, or that you’re all alone and that you don’t count, think of the people who every day say that you count and that you’re important – that’s why they clean the school, that’s why they prepare the lesson plans. What that says is that you count.”

Cardinal Cupich reminisced about his time at Ss. Peter and Paul during the Q&A. He spoke about the value of working hard and how what he learned at Ss. Peter and Paul has benefited him throughout his life.

“Catholic education is about preparing you for life, and the things you learn here, you’re going to keep forever,” he said.

Students asked him about how he discerned his vocation, his work as a cardinal, and what it’s like to know the pope.

After the Q&A, this year’s Cupich family scholarship winners, seventh-grader Amy Campos and sixth-grader Paulette Lopez-Herrera, and school principal Andrew Bauer led Cardinal Cupich on a tour of the school. On it the cardinal pointed out rooms where he attended classes and shared other memories.