Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Bishop Blase Cupich named sixth Bishop of Spokane

by Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register

The day began with Mass with Bishop Skylstad’s staff, as well as regular daily Mass attendees, at Spokane’s Sacred Heart Parish on Wednesday, June 30.

At a 10 a.m. press conference in the Catholic Pastoral Center, Bishop William Skylstad announced, “It is with great joy” – and he repeated the phrase, “with great joy, I introduce to you today my successor, Bishop Blase Cupich.”

Bishop Blase Cupich met with the press June 30 at the Catholic Pastoral Center. (IR photo by Deacon Eric Meisfjord)

Earlier that day, Pope Benedict announced that Bishop Cupich would be the sixth bishop of Spokane and accepted Bishop Skylstad’s resignation. Bishop Skylstad now becomes the apostolic administrator of the diocese until Bishop Cupich is installed on Sept. 3 of this year.

Said Bishop Skylstad, “I am humbled to have had the honor of serving in the Diocese of Spokane as its bishop since April of 1990. Although these years have not been without challenges, it has been a time of great joy in my life. My ministry as bishop could not have been possible without the caring support and collective wisdom of so many: priests, deacons, communities of women Religious, and laity. I am profoundly grateful for my ministry to, and with, so many good people in this diocese, and throughout the world.”

Bishop Cupich comes to the Spokane Diocese from his most recent ministry, Bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D. He was ordained and installed for that See on Sept. 21, 1998.

Prior to that, Bishop Cupich, a native of Omaha, was a priest of the Omaha Archdiocese, ordained Aug. 16, 1975.

Bishop Cupich described his move to Eastern Washington as “a good fit.” Both the Spokane Diocese and Western South Dakota, where he now serves, have “a wonderful environment, a beautiful climate.”

Nevertheless, he admits to feeling “a sense of loss” as he leaves the Rapid City Diocese.

During the press conference, Spokane’s new bishop was asked about a number of issues facing the church nationally as well as regionally.

Learning about the needs of the Spokane Diocese is the first priority, he said, though he had already encountered “enormous amounts of good” happening in Eastern Washington.

Bishop Skylstad introduced Bishop Cupich to the media. (IR photo by Deacon Eric Meisfjord)

He expressed a “willingness to be surprised by the faith of people, to find that people are good.”

Although the Spokane Diocese has faced, and continues to face, economic challenges, he pointed out that he presently comes from “a mission diocese. We learned to do more with less, and that keeps you close to the gifts.

“It’s about mission, not money,” he said. “If you get the mission right, money follows.”

Bishop Cupich brings a rich pastoral and administrative background to the Church in Eastern Washington.

His priestly formation took place at the college of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., followed by North American College and Gregorian University in Rome. He has a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree is sacramental theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

He served the Omaha Archdiocese as an associate pastor, high school instructor, director of the archdiocese’s Office for Divine Worship, and was an instructor for the continuing education for priests program and deacon formation program at Creighton University, Omaha.

From 1981-87 he served as secretary in the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C.

He was then named pastor of St. Mary Parish, Bellevue, Neb., for two years, before he became president-rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio – coincidentally, Bishop Skylstad’s alma mater – from 1989-96.

Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, S.D. (Catholic News Service photo courtesy of Diocese of Rapid City)

He returned to Omaha as a pastor, before the Vatican named him to the Rapid City diocese in 1998.

Bishop Cupich has a lengthy resume of work for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, including the Committee on the Liturgy, the Liturgy Task Force on Liturgy with Children, the Ad Hoc Committee on Scripture Translation, chairman of the Committee on Vocations, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse.

He is now chairman of the Committee on Protection of Children and Young People.

During the press conference, he was questioned regarding the Church’s outreach to victims of sexual abuse.

“Ongoing outreach,” said Bishop Cupich, “can be healing, to both sides.” He assured that he would be willing to meet individually with victims as well. He called those opportunities “a moment of great grace. Healing is possible. I’ve seen it happen.”

“The Catholic Church in Eastern Washington is richly blessed” by Bishop Cupich’s appointment, said Bishop Skylstad.

Bishop Skylstad was installed as Bishop of Spokane on April April 27, 1990.

Originally ordained for the Spokane Diocese in 1960, he served in a number of ministries, including pastor, chancellor, and seminary rector, before he was named Bishop of Yakima. He was ordained and installed May 12, 1977.

In 2001 he was elected vice president of the USCCB, and president three years later.

During his term as vice president the bishops adopted their “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which he called “an urgent need” in a June 10, 2010 Inland Register interview.

Bishop Skylstad celebrated Mass at the recent Worldwide Marriage Encounter convention in New Jersey. (IR photo by Alam M. Dumoff, courtesy of the Diocese of Camden, N.J.)

“I’ve always felt relationships with parishes were very important,” said Bishop Skylstad during that interview. He tries to foster those relationships with regular visits to parishes. When he became bishop of Yakima, he determined early on to visit every parish at least once a year, a weekend visit to each of the 42 parishes.

As challenging as it can be at times, he finds pastoral ministry “very rewarding. I’m proud of the Church, despite our foibles and failings. I’ve found the ministry to be very fulfilling and joyful, even with all its challenges.”

In their own way, those challenges “keep us humble, and make us trust more profoundly in Divine Providence.”

He “strongly believes” that “as we serve in the Church, we are touched very profoundly by the people whom we serve. You come into contact, all over, with some very holy people. But they’re all God’s children."

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