The first catholic Cardinal ever from Nebraska has not lost his sense of humor and certainly has not forgotten his roots. He chuckled a bit about his elevation to Cardinal, saying " People at home are having fun with it. My brother Rich is saying it gives a whole new meaning for Nebraska to say Go Big Red. "
In a sit down interview at the Archdiocese of Chicago, where Cupich has been Archbishop since 2014, the grandson of Croatian immigrants took us for a bit of a walk down memory lane. He said, " I recall my days in South Omaha with great fondness and affection. A place that prepared me for life, especially the ethic of hard work that is something that marks that part of town. "
From the days when he attended Sts. Peter and Paul school as a child to when he was ordained a priest in Omaha in 1975, the clergyman remembers how he also served as a Pastor at St. Margaret Mary, St. Mary's in Bellevue and St. Robert Bellarmine. He recalled, " People were so giving and understanding of my youthfulness and when I became a priest, then when I became a Pastor, I found a spirit of cooperation. I remember my days in Omaha with great warmth."
Known for his pastoral and merciful approach, this man of God has quickly stood out to Pope Francis on issues such as social justice. Cardinal Cupich said, "There are a lot of people who just feel they don't count. Justice can be a matter of helping people find a place at the table. " Cardinal Cupich also emphasized the common good and listening to all sides including on abortion, same sex marriage and divorced Catholics who might feel shunned by the church. The Cardinal pointed out, "We have to do it in a way that helps people, gives space to people to really come to the truth and that means not being harsh in our rhetoric or being overly critical to the point we close doors off when it comes to discussions. "
Cupich called his ascension in the catholic church and elevation to Cardinal, a "sense of surprise". He requested that the people of Omaha pray for him as he takes on his new responsibilities.
He will be in Omaha in late December to preside over a prayer service at St. Cecelia and greet well wishers afterwards.