Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. (UPI Photo/Bill Greenblatt) | License Photo
CHICAGO, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Blase Cupich will become the new archbishop of the Chicago archdiocese Monday, taking the place of the ailing Cardinal Francis George as the spiritual leader of more than 2 million American Catholics.
On Monday night, Cupich will arrive at Holy Name Cathedral for the Rite of Reception ceremony. He will knock on the front door and be greeted inside by George, bishops, other religious and civic leaders. George will preside over the liturgy of the word and Cupich will deliver the homily.
He will officially be installed as Chicago's ninth archbishop Tuesday, when he will be seated in the archbishop's chair, called the cathedra, and George will present him with the crozier.
The transfer of power marks the first time in the archdiocese's history a new archbishop will take over while his predecessor is still alive.
George, who is retiring after serving as archbishop since 1997, is battling cancer. He held is final mass Sunday at Holy Name, individually greeting hundreds of the standing-room crowd who wished to say goodbye.
"The people of the archdiocese are what I will point to when the Lord asks me, 'What have you done with my gift to you?'" he said. "The people of the archdiocese are what I point to when the media and others ask, what is your legacy?"
Walking on crutches at the mass, George admitted some awkwardness to the situation.
"In a way, it's like presiding at your own wake from time to time, it seems because everywhere I've been in recent days, this is my last time here, my last time doing this," he said. "I've been very gratified by the kindness of so many people."
Cupich was previously the bishop of the diocese of Spokane, in Washington state.