Chicago officially has its new archbishop. During a grand, and sometimes emotional, ceremony Blase Cupich took the reins of the nation’s third largest archdiocese Tuesday.
During the installation service, he ceremoniously in the bishop’s chair and even delivered the homily in a Mass that lasted more than two hours.
A parade of priests followed by a frail Cardinal Francis George and the guest of honor started the installation service. Holy Name Cathedral was packed pew to pew. Political leaders including Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov Pat Quinn were also present to witness the changing of the guard that hasn’t taken place in Chicago for 17 years. Surrounded by his peers and his family, 50 plus people or more, Cupich accepted the appointment to serve the people of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Cupich arrived to become the city’s ninth archbishop from Spokane. He is from Nebraska originally and those that know him well call him a shepherd with intellect, a visionary and a skilled diplomat who uses his wit and reliability to lead and connect to his flock.
Today, he used all that to reach his listeners as he delivered the homily at Holy Name. He preached about the fear of leaving your comfort zone. The man from Omaha told everyone to embrace the unknown.
While this was a day of celebration for Cupich and his own family, he made a point of telling the church that his work in Chicago has only just begun. He will not turn his back on the most vulnerable in the priest sex abuse scandal: the church’s children.
“To rebuild trust is our sacred duty,” he said. “That is what we pledged to do.”
When it was all over, Archbishop Cupich headed for Holy Name’s front door and out to the streets of Chicago on a frigid November night. Some waiting outside the church got a glimpse of his Excellency for the first time.
There were a lot of thank yous as the installation came to a close.
There was also a reception Tuesday night with more prayer services to follow tomorrow.
Then it will be time to get to work.