Cardinal Blase Cupich presented a nine-minute homily during Mass on Sunday at St. Cletus Church in La Grange. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Cardinal Blase Cupich presented a nine-minute homily during Mass on Sunday at St. Cletus Church in La Grange. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Cardinal Cupich celebrates Mass on ‘a special day’ at St. Cletus

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Cardinal Cupich shares a laugh with Tim Kyzivat after Mass.

By Steve Metsch

After waiting patiently in line, Indian Head Park resident Tim Kyzivat enjoyed a rare chance to visit with Cardinal Blase J. Cupich.

Kyzivat, 77, was among several hundred people who attended the 11 a.m. Mass said by the Archbishop of Chicago at St. Cletus Roman Catholic Church in La Grange on Sunday.

Cupich did a meet-and-greet during a reception held after Mass.

“I thanked the Cardinal for his Sunday morning Masses during Covid. It meant so much to us as elderly citizens,” Kyzivat said.

“You want to go to church every Sunday, and when something (like Covid) comes up like that, what do you do? He said Mass (on TV) and it worked out very well. He was very happy to hear (me tell him) that,” Kyzivat added.

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Cardinal Blase Cupich said he tries to visit as many parishes as possible in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Cardinal Cupich was happy to accept an invitation from Pastor Elmer Romero to say Mass at St. Cletus.

“He was here four, five years ago. I thought maybe we should bring him back,” Romero said.

“It’s a blessing to have our shepherd (here). Just the fact that he took the time to be with us. … He brought us closer to the Lord,” Romero added.

Romero enjoyed Cupich’s homily in which the Cardinal reminded listeners that “Instead of shaming people by bringing up the past, it’s an opportunity for us to lift them up, to give them another opportunity.”

“That’s especially important in a family because we do hurt each other, we make mistakes, we fail,” Cupich said during his homily.

“When we give up on ourselves, the Lord reminds us that, no, he’s not done with us. He keeps coming back, keeps searching us out,” Cupich said.

During the reception, Cupich said he visits parishes whenever possible.

“We have over 200 parishes, so I try judicially to visit the people, stay afterward to visit with them and see how they’re doing. It’s something I enjoy doing,” Cupich, 75, said taking a break from posing for photos with people.

Parishioner Dean Ferrera, of Burr Ridge, was pleased he and his family could attend.

“It’s wonderful to meet him. It’s great to hear Mass from a man of his stature,” Ferrera said.

“It brings warmth and togetherness to the whole community, especially having a combined Mass that was (said) in Spanish and English. It was beautifully done,” Ferrera said.

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 A well-wisher shakes hands with Cardinal Cupich at the reception after Mass.

Jim Matthews, former president of the Holy Name Society at St. Cletus, was also impressed. He noted that Cupich is from Nebraska, as are some of his relatives.

“When my nephew asked, ‘Have you ever heard of St. Cletus Parish,’ (Cupich) said, ‘Oh, that’s one of my favorite parishes’,” Matthews, 80-plus, of La Grange, said with a big smile.

“This is a special day for us,” Matthews added.

Nearly every seat was filled in the church, a rarity when it’s not Easter or Christmas.

“I know that people show up every Sunday for Mass here, so I wasn’t surprised,” Cupich said with a chuckle, knowing he was the reason for the crowded church.

Some traveled from other parishes to be there.

Brookfield resident Steven Lifka, who attends St. Mary’s Church in Riverside, said Cupich’s celebrating Mass “felt really good to bring the community together as one.”

Geri Sargent and husband Kevin Draz, parishioners of St. Giles Church in Oak Park, jumped at the chance to see Cupich in person.

“As my husband said, I am of Croatian descent and so is the Cardinal, so it’s a little added bonus,” said Sargent, a Nazareth Academy alum.

“This means the world to me because he reminds me so much of Pope Francis,” she said. “He’s really a man of peace and grace and openness.”

Cupich was in good spirits during the reception, smiling and laughing often.

He even snuck in a little joke during Mass.

After the entrance hymn, “Easter Alleluia,” and hearing many sing along with the choir, Cupich quipped, “I’m so glad you all went to choir practice. You sing so well.”

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A large crowd nearly filled St. Cletus Church in La Grange for Cardinal Cupich.

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