Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

Chicago priests making a difference

May 4, 2023

This month the Archdiocese of Chicago will ordain five new priests. I always urge the newly ordained to keep in mind that in receiving ordination they are entering into the presbyterate of Chicago, a body of priests that has a long history of making a difference in the church and the world.

Happily, I can point to three recent examples of our priests making a difference. The first is Father Tim O’Malley, pastor of Most Blessed Trinity Church in Waukegan. He and his team joined with local law enforcement and the vicar, Bishop Jeffrey Grob, in sponsoring a gun buy-back to increase public safety.

On April 29, 166 guns were collected, including an Uzi. Father Tim’s leadership in helping to coordinate this effort was key, and he joins in the work of other priests who have done likewise, as society responds to the intolerable increase in gun violence in our area and across the nation (see story and photos on page 12).

We also learned this week that the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is honoring Father Hernan Cuevas Contreras at their upcoming annual Heroes Breakfast. He is being recognized for his leadership following the Independence Day parade mass shooting in Highland Park.

He was on his third day as pastor of Christ Our Hope Parish when this tragedy struck. He took immediate action and led his parishioners and other parade onlookers to take shelter in church. Immaculate Conception Church, one of the parish worship sites, sheltered more than 50 people for four hours while the shooter remained at large.

In the wake of the tragedy, Father Hernan also dedicated himself to providing resources for Spanish-speaking members of the community to support healing in Highland Park and Highwood, where St. James Church, the parish’s other worship site, is located.

 Finally, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1973, now serving as Archbishop of Washington, has been named a Laureate of the Order of Lincoln (see story and photos on page 24). His exceptional faith journey began more than six decades ago at St. Carthage Catholic School on the South Side of Chicago, when he felt God’s call to the priesthood. Received into the church at the age of 11, he continued his studies in archdiocesan schools and seminaries.

Just 10 years after being ordained, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop in 1983. He then went on to serve as the bishop of Belleville and most notably as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

During his leadership of the USCCB, he championed the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth. He also served as archbishop of Atlanta before Pope Francis appointed him as archbishop of Washington.

These three priests of our archdiocese make us proud, as do all of our priests who work each day to serve and lead, often with little recognition. They do so because they are motivated by a love of God and the people they pastor.

 Our newly ordained priests now take their place in this presbyterate, and we look forward to the contributions they will make in continuing this great heritage of ministry that makes a difference in the church and the world. Congratulations to all.