Archbishop-Designate Blase Cupich to be installed by Archdiocese of Chicago Tuesday

Monday, November 17, 2014
Archbishop-Designate Cupich to be installed Tuesday
Archbishop-Designate Blase Cupich

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Archbishop-Designate Blase Cupich will be installed by the Archdiocese of Chicago to replace Francis Cardinal George on Tuesday.

Cupich will lead more than two million Catholics in Cook and Lake Counties, but his influence will extend well beyond that. The Archbishop of Chicago has a voice on the national stage, and internationally too.

This is a key appointment by Pope Francis. Blase Cupich is the man the pope wants to help lead the Catholic Church in America.

He is a pastor as comfortable in the pulpit as he is serving coffee to the homeless and one thing people in Chicago will quickly learn about Blase Cupich is that he is a man of doing things.

"I think you're in for a wild, wonderful ride in Chicago," said Rob McCann, Spokane Catholic Charities.

Nearly every week he's helped to serve breakfast at the Spokane Catholic Charities Shelter and if you're standing by just watching he will quickly put you to work.

Only recently did many of those being served there realize that the man they simply call "Blase" is a bishop.

"If we're going to be welcoming, we've got to meet people where they're at and he's the kind of guy who meets people where they're at," McCann said.

For Catholic high school students, that meant meeting them at the big rivalry football game known as The Holy Bowl.

"We really like him. It's super fun, he jokes with us," said student Camille Elmenhurst.

This man with the distinctive laugh is the pope's first major leadership pick for American Catholics and it doesn't take long for people to see similarities. Even in his decision to live in an apartment near Holy Name Cathedral, rather than the mansion that's been the traditional home for Chicago's archbishops.

"He's not only of the same book as Pope Francis, he's not only on the same page, he's not only on the same line, he's on the same words," said Fr. Bob McNeese, Spokane Seminary Rector.

"I would say this: I like what Pope Francis has said. I think I've been saying those things for years," Cupich said.

Cupich led a Spokane campaign to sign up as many low-income residents for insurance as possible under the Affordable Care Act.

He supports immigration reform and believes Catholic schools can help lift children out of poverty.

"It just seems to me to be the right thing to do. I identify with these people. I identify with immigrants. I consider them family," he said.

Like Chicago, Spokane's Catholic schools are challenged by expenses, tuition costs and declining enrollment.

Archbishop Cupich encouraged local business leaders to get involved and construction volunteers formed what's called the "Bishops Brigade," giving their time, money and sweat for the kids at schools like Trinity Catholic.

"Part of it is just hope, just pure hope," said Principal Sandra Nokes, Trinity Catholic School. "For them to see what's happened here was a huge gift. Now they see there's someone that's noticing, there's someone that's noticing what we're doing and there's someone notices we're here and there's someone that cares for the kids."

Something heard again and again is that Blase Cupich cares for people. Born in Omaha to a poor family, he is the son of a mail carrier and one of nine kids.

He says he has never met Pope Francis, but clearly, the pope knows Blase Cupich. And Chicagoans are about to get to know him well.

Chicago Croatians welcoming Cupich with open arms

Chicago's large Croatian community is welcoming Archbishop-Designate Blase Cupich with open arms.

Cupich will become the archdiocese's first archbishop of Croatian descent.

Father Paul Maslach says he's looking forward to working with the new archbishop.

"He wants to be with the people, he wants to be in the midst of the people, he wants to be involved in the work of the Church with the people of Chicago. He wants to share with the people, what the church can do," Fr. Maslach said.

Join ABC7 for live coverage of the installation of Blase Cupich as Chicago's next archbishop with a special report starting Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. The installation can also be seen on