Laura Keener, Editor.
Thomas More University hosted its 24th annual Bishop William A. Hughes Award dinner, Sept. 26, at the Drees Pavilion, Covington. Bishop Roger Foys was recognized as this year’s award recipient.
“The quality education that we provide today, and aspire to enhance in the future, would not and will not be possible without the leadership and support of our chancellor,” said President Joseph Chillo, Thomas More University. “As president, I am grateful for the mentorship and spiritual guidance that Bishop Foys provides for me, for our board of trustees, and for our community of learners.”
The Bishop William A. Hughes Award was established in 1996 to honor those who have made significant contributions to Catholic higher education. At the awards dinner, Father Ryan Maher and Father Daniel Schomaker, vicars general, praised Bishop Foys not only for his contributions to Catholic higher education but also for his role as father and shepherd of the Diocese of Covington.
Father Maher was a seminarian when Pope St. John Paul II appointed then Msgr. Foys as Bishop of Covington.
“I wanted to know who he was. What was he like? So, I did what most of you probably did — I Googled him,” Father Maher said.
Father Maher said he came upon an article about Msgr. Foys and he remembers three things that impressed him about his new bishop. First that he has a devotion to Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Archbishop Sheen was one of the great communicators of the faith in the 20th century, who for five years (1952–1957) was the host of the popular television program, “Life is Worth Living.”
“A priest must be able to communicate the truth, goodness and beauty of our beloved Catholic faith to others,” Father Maher said.
The second thing that impressed Father Maher was that Msgr. Foys had been a pastor for 29 years, with 22 of those years in the same parish.
“A pastor is always a shepherd of souls,” he said.
And the third quality was Msgr. Foys devotion to the Eucharist, making a daily Holy Hour in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
“A priest must always come to know Jesus in the Eucharist,” he said.
“I remember being excited about what I read, I remember feeling comforted by what I read, I remember feeling hopeful; as St. Paul says, hope does not disappoint,” Father Maher said.
Reflecting on his 17 years with Bishop Foys, 15 of those as a priest, Father Maher said that the “feeling of comfort” as grown.
“Bishop Foys is a man of great integrity, he is man of great principle, he is man of generosity, a man who works hard, a man of unwavering faith and trust in the Lord. Bishop Foys has the heart of a father who cares and loves his children and Bishop Foys has a great sense of humor. I have found Bishop Foys to not only be a great communicator of the faith, not only a true pastor of souls, not only a man of prayer but also for me he is a mentor, a constant support and guide and a trusted friend.”
Reflecting on a quote from St. Augustine — “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance, to seek him is the greatest adventure, to find him the greatest human achievement” — Father Schomaker shared how Bishop Foys’ parents — Martin and Theresa Foys — led him to faith in God and his profound appreciation for Catholic school education.
“Bishop Foys has experienced the greatest romance there can be because he was introduced to the Lord and came to fall in love with him because of his parents.
He learned to love — to seek the good of the other — from his parents as they provided for him and his three siblings … sacrificing so that they could have a thoroughly Catholic education. They also gave him the greatest adventure because they taught him to seek God,” Father Schomaker said.
Father Schomaker said that although tonight Bishop Foys is being honored with the Bishop Hughes Award, in truth Bishop Foys had “already gained the highest human achievement possible, because he has found the Lord and the Lord has found him. He has come to the realization of what St. Augustine said.”
In accepting the award, Bishop Foys shared how, as a young priest, he was moved by the witness of a priest celebrating his golden jubilee. As one after another praised the priest for his work, the priest stood up and with tears streaming down his face said in Latin, “Not to me O Lord, not to me, but to your name be the glory.”
“What everyone revered him for was having spent his life in the service of the Lord and those thoughts are mine this evening,” Bishop Foys said. “Everything we do, we do it for the glory of God … I am profoundly grateful for this honor and for your being here. I give the glory to God because I would be nothing, I would have nothing, I would do nothing, if it were not for God’s goodness … I thank God every day for having parents that loved each other, and whose love for each other brought my two brothers, my sister and myself into this world and who worked very, very hard in every way to provide us with a good solid Catholic school education.”