Cardinal Blase Cupich’s rise within the Roman Catholic Church put him on the world’s stage, but behind the curtains lie humble beginnings for the South Omaha native.
Growing up in South Omaha you couldn't throw a rock and not hit a Catholic church, says Phil Mcevoy who knew the Cupich family during his childhood.
“It was community,” he says. “Everybody took care of each other.”
On Friday evening, the cardinal will return to his roots – his original community – for a Vespers service at St. Cecilia's Cathedral, hosted by the Archdiocese of Omaha.
The morning of the service, people of faith shared their excitement for Cupich’s return after mass.
“I think that's it great and it's nice for him to come back and visit with us again," Judy Brandl says.
The native’s elevation from Archbishop of Chicago to cardinal is the community’s beam of light.
“It's a great honor for the Archdiocese of Omaha and South Omaha,” Mcevoy says.
Once an altar boy at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish and School, he later moved on to become a priest at several area parishes before becoming a bishop in South Dakota and Spokane, Washington.
In 2014, he was appointed and installed as the ninth Archbishop of Chicago.
His career took him across the country – as an altar boy, a pastor, bishop and archbishop – but Omahans say Cupich remains the same.
“He's a good example of Catholic faith and representation of Midwest values,” Sheryl Pitner says.
The newly-installed cardinal is known for his stance on social justice and listening to those who might feel rejected by the faith as he shared with KMTV in November.
“There are a lot of people who feel they don't count and justice can be a matter of helping people find a place at the table,” Cupich says.
At 7 p.m at St. Celcia’s Cathedral, an invitation at the table stands for Omaha as seen on a recent social media post from Archdiocese of Omaha.