The Croatian community in Chicago is “very ecstatic” about the naming of a Roman Catholic archbishop who shares their heritage, one of its leaders said Saturday.
Bishop Blase (BLAYZ’) Cupich (SOO’-pihch), of Spokane, Washington, was appointed Saturday to succeed Cardinal Francis George. Cupich told The Associated Press that his heritage is “100 percent” Croatian, with all four of his Croatian grandparents making their way independently to Omaha, Nebraska, in the early 20th century and finding jobs in the city’s meatpacking houses.
“The Croatian community is very ecstatic today,” said the Rev. Joe Grbes (GUR’-besh), head of the Croatian-American Franciscans of North America and a leader in the Croatian community. “After being present in the Chicagoland for more than 175 years, we have a new archbishop of Chicago who is very proud of his Croatian origins.”
Grbes said the community wishes “many years of continued health” to George, who is retiring. Grbes said George had special in the community’s heart.
The Chicago area is home to more than 250,000 Catholics of Croatian descent, said Maria Dugandzic-Pasic (doo-GAN’-zik PAH’-sik), author of “Croatians of Chicagoland.” At least three Catholic parishes in Chicago hold Mass in the Croatian language.