Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Chicago’s new archbishop will miss the generosity and beauty of Eastern Washington

Story and photo by Eric Meisfjord, editor, Inland Register

(From the October 16, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)

Archbishop Cupich met with Spokane news media after his return from Chicago last month. (IR photo)

As he met with local press in the Spokane Diocese’s Catholic Pastoral Center on Friday, Sept. 26, Archbishop Blase Cupich expressed his appreciation for the Catholic Church and broader community of Eastern Washington State.

One of the things he’ll miss most, he said, is the generosity of people – Catholics, but also the broader community, and the way different groups bond together to care for the poor and work for the broader good.

Also on his list: Gonzaga University (and their winning basketball team) and the beauty of the land, from the wheat fields to the orchards. He said he’ll miss the downtown area, where he lived for his first two years as bishop of Spokane, and the walks he could take along the nearby Spokane River.

He said he was in Munich when the call came, asking him to become Archbishop of Chicago. “I’ve never asked for anything, and I’ve never refused,” when the Church has asked him to take on a new or different role.

As he leaves the Spokane Diocese over the next few weeks, he believes that the people of the Church in Eastern Washington are “encouraged, full of hope. Many people feel we’ve turned the corner” after the diocese’s bankruptcy. The diocese is experiencing greater financial stability and operates with a lean, balanced budget. Financial support, in the form of grants and other funding, has come from outside the diocese and has contributed to that stability as well. “Wonderful things are happening,” he said.

An outside grant helped make possible the “Know, Love & Serve” pastoral planning initiative in the Spokane Diocese. One of the major fruits of that initiative is Archbishop Cupich’s recent pastoral letter, “Joy Made Complete,” distributed by mail to each registered Catholic household in the diocese in the weeks ahead. The pastoral letter has also been posted to the Spokane Diocese web site and was published in both English and Spanish in the September edition of the diocese’s newspaper, the Inland Register.

Moving forward in his ministry, the archbishop told reporters, “I see myself as a willing partner,” with business, labor, government, and ecumenical leaders, to accomplish the common good.

One issue taking precedence is that of immigration reform. “We need comprehensive immigration reform,” he said. Immigrants need legal status – “not necessarily citizenship immediately, but a pathway to it and legal status” for people who already pay taxes and contribute to the common good. He suggested reporters talk to people in agriculture who rely on an immigrant work force. “Talk to the growers,” he said, who “want to make sure they have a secure labor force.”

He is working to improve his command of Spanish – 44 percent of Chicago Catholics are Spanish-speaking, he said. It will be just one aspect of his new life.

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