Archbishop Blase J. Cupich

My first Chicago Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 30, 2014

This first column for the Catholic New World happily coincides with our national Thanksgiving feast day. So, it only seems right to share with you my top 10 of things for which I am thankful:

1) The Holy Father — Pope Francis not only made these joyful days possible, but has been providing for me and for the whole church with great inspiration as the church takes up the task of witnessing to the work of the Risen Lord in our midst. The joy of the Gospel is ever on his lips and in his actions, and I am humbled that he asked me to be your archbishop.

2) The installation committee —This group worked tirelessly not only on making sure that the ceremonies and events ran smoothly, but also attended to the details of welcoming my family, out-oftown friends and the bishops. They never said “no” when I asked for help and I will always be grateful. Bishop Francis Kane, who chaired this group, also has served as our vicar general. He has asked to return to the work of leading Vicariate II, but I was able to convince him to stay on until the end of the year. At a later date I will be able to say more about his great contribution as vicar general and welcome his replacement, Father Ron Hicks.

3) Diocesan staff — Each and every day this group of dedicated women and men serve our various offices, all of which have the goal of helping our parishes and communities remain vibrant and effective. Most times their efforts go unnoticed, but I want each of them to know of my thanks.

4) Priests — The priests who work here in the archdiocese make us all proud, and are a focus of my daily prayer. In the short time I have been here I find our priests to be an impressive group of talented and faith-filled servants, who want nothing more than to accompany people in the journey of discipleship.

5) Religious women and men — I had a chance to visit with these extraordinary servants of the church the day after my installation and share with them my deep and abiding respect for their irreplaceable contribution to us all. Their various charisms and apostolates enrich the church and we would be at a loss without them.

6) My family — As people saw during the installation, I really have a tribe not just a family. My siblings, nephews and nieces and their children were all able to attend, along with many cousins on both sides of the Cupich-Mayhan clans. They not only provide me with great personal support, but also keep me honest and, as is the case with most families, humble, with their good humor.

7) The city of Chicago — Of course I mean the many neighborhoods and the downtown, but even more so the people, who are blessed with diversity and extraordinary personal gifts. Those working in public safety, the media, elected officials, religious leaders, the business and labor community, as well as the citizens at large, could not have been more helpful, welcoming and encouraging in these days, and I cannot fail to think of these happy days without rememberingthem all.

8) Schools and religious education programs — You will recall that I highlighted teachers and catechists in my homily with the story of Marie Walsh, a former English teacher who corrected me with the phrase: “Chickens lay eggs; people lie down.” I did so to emphasize that I am giving a high priority to our schools and religious educators. They hold the future of our church and nation in our hand and I am energized whenever I see how they teach with dedication and enthusiasm. I want them to know that I am in their corner. I am very grateful for the hundreds of cards children sent me.

9) The Diocese of Spokane — All I can say, is that I miss the people in eastern Washington already. In the four short years I served as their bishop we grew attached to one another. The natural beauty of the landscape — rolling wheat fields, majestic lakes, forested hills and incredible vistas — were well complimented by a people equally alive and beautiful. They will always have a place in my heart, and I thank God every time I think of them.

10) Cardinal Francis George — I save him to last as a means of putting the spotlight on his remarkable contribution over the past 17 years as your archbishop. You all have your own stories and memories, but I will never forget his unfailing generosity and graciousness to me ever since learning of my appointment. He has served in difficult times and so I was pleased to read an editorial in the secular press on Nov. 6, which praised him for doing the heavy lifting.

It read: “… the argument voiced Thursday by one lawyer for victims of clergy abuse that nothing much has changed is simply factually wrong. The archdiocese has taken honest and significant steps to come to grips with its past and safeguard its future. Cardinal Francis George should be commended for doing the heavy lifting to resolve this long and sorry scandal before a new archbishop, Blase Cupich, takes over in less than two weeks. Going forward, the archdiocese carries a heavy responsibility to keep every safeguard against abusive clergy firmly in place, and to remain alert to any and every new allegation.”

I intend to do my best in this regard, and am so pleased that many others in the archdiocese are poised to work with me to that end.

There is so much to be thankful to God and I will remember all of these reasons in my prayer and at the Lord’s Table as I thank God for many gifts.


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