CHICAGO - Newly installed archbishop of Chicago Msgr. Blase Cupich was born to Blase and Mary Mayhan on March 19, 1949 in Omaha, Nebraska. Both parents are Croatian-Americans bom to Croatian immigrants, and both families were members of the Sts. Peter and Paul Croatian Parish in Omaha. The parents of Blase Cupich attended the grade school of Sts. Peter and Paul Church, as did Blase and his eight brothers and sisters.
They were an brought up to respect their Catholic faith and Croatian heritage and participated in organizations to promote these values. Blase's maternal great-grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Majhan, immigrated to Omaha at the turn of the 20th century from the area near Karlovac, Croatia. They brought their small son Ivan, who would later meet Barbara Bahun from Varazdin. The personal and family name Ivan Majhan was later Anglicized to John Mayhan. John and Barbara were married in Sts. Peter and Paul Church. Their daughter Mary would marry Blase Cupich in the same church. Of this marriage came nine children, among them Blase, now Archbishop Cupich. The paternal grandparents of the Blase Cupich were also Croatian and likewise met in Omaha. In 1914 they were married and became life-long members ot Sts. Feter and Faul Croatian Parish. Blaz Cupic originated from Donji Andrijevci near Slavonski Brod, while his wife Ruza Gradicek came from Greda near Varaždin.
Archbishop Cupich is Proud of his Croatian Heritage
Archbishop Cupich is proud of his Croatian heritage, and in fact has designated in his official Coat-of-Arms a red-and-white checkered section modeled after the centuries-old Croatian "grb." The most famous version of the Coat-of-Arms is on the roof of St. Mark's Church in Zagreb.
Blase Cupich received his elementary education at Sts. Peter and Paul Croatian Parish School in Omaha; he attended Bishop Ryan High School, also in Omaha. Upon graduation, he enrolled in the College Seminary of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he earned his degree in Philosophy. His theological studies were completed through North American College and later the Gregorian University in Rome. He returned to Omaha to be ordained to the Priesthood in Sts. Peter and Paul Church by Archbishop Daniel E. Sheehan on August 16, 1975. He would celebrate his first solemn Mass there the next day. After serving in various pastoral assignments and teaching high school in Omaha, Father Cupich went to the Catholic University of America to earn the S.T.L. degree in Sacramental Theology in 1979. His doctoral degree, S.T.D., was conferred upon him in 1989. His doctoral dissertation was entitled Advent in the Roman Tradition: An Examination and Comparison of the Lectionary Readings as Hermeneutical Units in Three Periods. Fr. Cupich returned again to Omaha to serve as Pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish. He became Chairman of the Archdiocesan Office of Divine Worship, as well as Instructor at Creighton University in the Department of Continuing Education for Priests. In 1981, he was called to Washington to serve at the Apostolic Nunciature as Secretary. to Cardinal Pio Laghi.
This was the highest post a Croatian-American priest had held.
After six years of service to the Nuncio, Fr. Cupich returned to serve for two years as Pastor at St. Mary's Church in Bellevue, Nebraska. In 1989, Fr. Cupich was called upon by the Church to assume a role of great responsibility and honor: President and Rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. He served in this capacity until 1996. As President and Rector, he also created a chair for renowned visiting professors of scripture and theology-another avenue to exchange. He was honored for these and other achievements by being raised to the dignity of Domestic Prelate with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor. He returned briefly to Omaha to serve as Pastor of a large urban parish, St. Robert Bellarmine.
After less than a year, once more he was called to higher duties when Pope John Paul II named him to become Bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota. Pope Benedict XVI made him the bishop of Spokane, Washington in 2010.He was installed as new archbishop of Chicago on November 18, 2014 at the Holy name Cathedral in Chicago.
(Source: St. Jerome Parish, Chicago)