SPOKANE, Wash. – In a ceremony reaffirming Gonzaga University’s central connection to its Catholic identity, the University hosted some 5,000 members of the faithful to witness the historic installation of Bishop Blase Cupich as leader of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane earlier this month.
More than 30 bishops from across the country, leaders and students from 17 Catholic schools throughout the Inland Northwest and Gonzaga University, and parishioners Diocesewide filled the McCarthey Athletic Center Sept. 3 to witness the event. It had been more than three decades since the Spokane Diocese had come together for such an occasion; the last time was the installation of Bishop Lawrence Welsh in 1978. Bishop Cupich leads approximately 90,000 Catholics in 80 parishes.
The faithful gave the bishop a warm Gonzaga welcome during the Mass of Installation. Bishop Cupich, 61, was appointed to the Spokane Catholic Diocese by Pope Benedict XVI, and is the sixth bishop of Spokane. He replaces retiring Bishop William S. Skylstad.
At the beginning of the Mass, Archbishop Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, read the official hand-lettered document from Pope Benedict XVI appointing Bishop Cupich to the Spokane See. Seattle Archbishop Alexander Brunett led Bishop Cupich to the bishop’s chair. Archbishop Sambi presented the crosier, or bishop’s staff, to Bishop Cupich, who took his seat in the chair, completing the transfer of authority from Bishop Skylstad to Bishop Cupich.
Before the appointment, Bishop Cupich was Bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D. Among other roles, he has been an active member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and serves as chair of the Bishops’ Committee on the Protection for Children and Young People.
Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh said Gonzaga and the local Church have maintained a strong and positive relationship for more than 120 years. “It is Gonzaga’s honor and privilege, as a Work of the Society of Jesus and the Catholic Church, to host this joyous event and to actively participate in the welcome of our new Bishop,” President McCulloh said.
Bishop Cupich expressed his appreciation to Gonzaga and President McCulloh.