In Washington, Bishop, priests and pilgrims are the voice for the voiceless at March for Life

Laura Keener, Editor.

Pilgrims from the Diocese of Covington participated, Jan. 24, in the 47th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.
The March for Life is a peaceful demonstration opposing the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion on demand legal in the United States and has polarized Americans into two political blocs — pro-choice (a women’s right to abortion) and pro-life (an unborn child’s right to life). Each year at the March for Life thousands of Americans give voice to the voiceless demanding that U.S. laws restore protection to the unborn.

From the diocese, about 300 people attended this year’s March for Life including students from Bishop Brossart High School, Alexandria; Covington Catholic High School, Park Hills; Covington Latin School, Covington; Holy Cross District High School, Latonia; Notre Dame Academy, Park Hills; St. Henry District High School, Erlanger; St. Patrick High School, Maysville; Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights; and Thomas More University, Crestview Hills.

In his homily at Mass prior to the march, at St. Dominic Church, Washington, D.C., Bishop Roger Foys read extensively from an article, “The Truth About Abortion,” written 30 years ago and available still online at Despite the age of the article, its content, Bishop Foys said, rings true today.

“I think it goes without saying that abortion is a difficult issue to talk about. It is difficult because it is almost impossible to find someone who is neutral on the subject. It is the most emotionally-divisive issue in America today,” Bishop Foys read.

“This is still true today. You look at our world, you look at our country, sadly and unfortunately you look at our Church and there are divisions,” Bishop Foys said. “People taking up sides, angry at each other, holding grudges against each other —that’s not right.”

The article indicated that many are divided on the morality of abortion. After describing the developmental milestones of a fetus — at conception the baby has its own set of genes and chromosomes; before implantation the sex is determined; 19 days after conception the eyes begin to develop; after 24 days the heart begins beating; at 30 days and a 1/4 inch long the embryo has a brain, eyes, ears, mouth, kidneys and liver; 35 days fingers are formed; 40 days brainwaves are detected — Bishop Foys said, “I defy anyone to say that killing such a baby is not morally wrong. It’s not just a blob, it’s not just some mass we are going to destroy and discard. It is a human being, as the Psalmist said, ‘knit by God in its mother’s womb.’”

Since 1973, Bishop Foys said, that 61,683,903 children have been aborted in the United States and 1,562,566,150 babies have perished in the womb worldwide.

“My friends, that should frighten us,” he said. “We know the truth, so what do we do?”

Bishop Foys offered three directives — pray, be informed and get involved.

“Those poor unborn children cannot speak for themselves, so we speak for them — not with vengeance, not with hatred but with love and prayer and patience and understanding. We should not be a cause for more division — there’s enough of that in our world and in our country and in our Church. A house divided cannot stand, Jesus said,” Bishop Foys said.
Bishop Foys ended his homily thanking the pilgrims for attending the March for Life and encouraging them in their support of the unborn.

“We must not give up, we must not be silent — we must be a witness. This is why we are here today, to be a witness. We are not here to protest, or harangue, or to discredit. We are here to be a witness to life. To show people, especially those who have the ability to change this law, that there are still people in our country … who believe that God is indeed the author of all life. It is up to God, and God alone, to determine who is born and who dies and when they are born and when they die. God is the author of life.”

On the return home from the March for Life, one of the four high school buses was involved in a serious accident. A car traveling south on the AA Highway near the California Crossroads intersection in Campbell County in the northbound lane collided with the bus carrying Covington Catholic High School students and chaperones. The driver of the car was pronounced dead at the scene. Two chaperones and one student were transported from the scene to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. They were treated and released the same day. The remaining students were transferred to other buses in the caravan and returned safely to the drop-off point where parents and family members were waiting.
In a released statement Bishop Foys said, “Please join us in praying for everyone involved in this accident.”

Catholic schools represent at School Choice Rally for scholarship tax credits

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Yellow scarves waved and children’s voices echoed through the Capitol rotunda during the School Choice Rally in Frankfort, Jan. 27. Held inside this year, the event still drew a sizeable crowd, with older students taking to the balcony with rally signs.

Students, teachers, parents and others behind the cause advocated for school choice and scholarship tax credits.
Scholarship tax credits would give businesses and individuals a dollar-for-dollar tax credit when they contribute to a qualified scholarship granting association. Schools then dispense those scholarships to families who otherwise couldn’t afford to choose a private or parochial school for their children.

Following the rally, House Majority Whip, Rep. Chad McCoy, filed House Bill 350 that evening. This bill would create a Scholarship Tax Credit program for K-12 non-public school students.

Speakers at the rally included State Senator Ralph Alvarado, Attorney General Daniel Cameron and a panel of parents who shared testimonies of the significant impact of school choice.

Senator Alvarado of the 28th district, a long-time champion for school choice, filed Senate Bill 110 on Jan. 24, which would back scholarship tax credits. He insisted that the scholarship tax credit program is necessary to building a strong education system in Kentucky.

“The lack of means to move or go to private school (shows a) discrepancy between rich and poor…” he said. “We need to give our kids the opportunity to compete nationally with their peers.”

Three mothers also gave testimonies to the impact of scholarships on their children.

Citing experience with poverty and unfortunate circumstance, they argued that zip code should not result in a lack of opportunity. “Finances shouldn’t determine the first 15 years of childhood education,” one said. Each advocated for an option to choose what is best for their children.

Attorney General Cameron, recently elected in 2019, agreed that choice is at stake.

“Regardless of background, beliefs, wealth or race, Kentucky children should have access to an education that meets their needs,” he said. “All types of schools and learning environments are necessary to meet the unique needs of every child… public schools, parochial schools, private schools…”

He recognized the role of Representative John “Bam” Carney in championing the scholarship tax credit movement, but who recently fell ill and so has not been able to bring a bill to the floor.

Mr. Cameron accepted get-well cards from the students for the representative.

Students from Holy Cross School, Covington, ended the rally with a School Choice Week dance, which they performed for everyone present.

Andrew Vandiver, associate director, Catholic Conference of Kentucky, also attended, and was pleased with the turnout and the lineup of speakers. EdChoice Kentucky organized the rally.

“I think more than anything it’s hearing from parents, because parents and students is what this is all about,” he said. “We had students from all across the state present.

He also referenced Attorney General Cameron’s presence as significant to the cause. Mr. Cameron is the highest profile speaker they’ve had, and “We’re excited to see how in his first month of being in office he’s already behind this issue.”

The Holy Cross School dancers represented a fraction of Andi Gardner’s fourth and fifth grade class from Holy Cross School, Covington. She brought 28 students for the first time.

“School choice is very important for our school because we have a lot of families that have a variety of socioeconomic needs and we’re trying to meet them the best that we can,” said Ms. Gardner. “When we heard that there was going to be legislation going to push this forward, we wanted to be part of it.”

Ms. Gardner said she was touched by the poignant stories of the parents whose families have suffered from a lack of school choice.

“I hope this is among the years of successful stories. Hopefully it’s not the end of a great story,” she said.

To stay informed on House Bill 350, follow the link:; to contact your state representative to show your support call 1-800-372-7181.

Bishop Foys, cathedral to be featured segment in ‘The Chair’ series

Laura Keener, Editor.

On the 119th anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, Jan. 27, crew members of the DeSales Media group began taping a documentary on the Cathedral and Bishop Roger Foys.

DeSales Media is the communications and technology arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. It is under the direction of Msgr. Kieran Harrington, vicar for Communications, and rector, Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, Brooklyn.

The Covington documentary is the 55th segment of an ever-growing series called “The Chair.” For two days the crew photographed and filmed the Cathedral — top to bottom, inside and out — capturing its art and architecture that recounts the story of salvation history and the theology of the Catholic faith and interviewed Stephen Enzweiler, cathedral historian. Msgr. Harrington conducted a one-hour, on-camera interview with Bishop Foys, which highlighted his family life, vocation story and joys and challenges of his episcopacy.

Among its other duties, DeSales Media runs a New York television station — NET TV. “The Chair,” which it is currently filming, is a series about cathedrals across the country and the local ordinary. Its stated objective is to highlight the diversity of the American Church, the diversity of American cathedrals and to tell the story of America’s bishops.
“It’s a way to evangelize by showing the beauty of our cathedrals,” said Msgr. Harrington.

DeSales Media anticipates that the Diocese of Covington segment will air sometime in the fall. When the schedule is be available it will be posted in the Messenger.

Art students collaborate with Society of St. Vincent de Paul for upcoming fundraiser

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

St. Vincent de Paul of Northern Kentucky is branching out with an all-new fundraising event: an art night in cooperation with students from local universities. In an event titled “Creative Compassion: A Night of Art for our Neighbors in Need,” the society invites guests and donors to New Riff Distillery in Newport on Thursday, Feb. 6, 6–9 p.m.

The innovative evening will feature a silent auction of student-created artwork, as well as heavy appetizers and drinks by Eat Well Celebrations and Feasts.

“We’re trying to be creative in the way we reach out to the community,” said Karen Zengel, executive director.

“Our partners across the river in Cincinnati do a fashion show in partnership with DAAP at University of Cincinnati and so we wanted to do some- thing similar but different,” she said.

That’s how Ms. Zengel and her coworkers found them- selves in classrooms at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) inviting students from the School of the Arts to choose an item off a shelf at the Thrift Store and create a work of art from it. The pieces will be on display at the event and auctioned off.

“Our mission has the opportunity to fundraise and the students get some exposure to people who might be interested in commissioning art from them in the future,” said Ms. Zengel. “It’s a good way for them to network their talent.”

The students, 22 in all, will each split the proceeds of the silent auction with the center. Most are from NKU, but students from the University of Cincinnati, Mount St. Joseph and even Notre Dame Academy are also contributing. Ms. Zengel said the pace picked up in November and December after the word spread about the project.

The silent auction features the artwork as well as donated baskets and some unique donations from the various thrift stores, such as fur coats and decorative vases.

“That’s so everyone can get a feel that a thrift store is much more than second hand clothing,” said Ms. Zengel. “Basic necessities are important to our mission,but some of those more unique items we’re able to sell for the benefit of our programs.” A key factor to the event, she said, is to help people understand that “when you make a donation to St. Vincent de Paul, your donation goes back to helping us spread that goodness. … We couldn’t do it without community support.”

Ms. Zengel especially credited presenting sponsor MidWest Pay Link as well as St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Trivaco, Forcht Bank, Altus Wealth Management, Eagle Savings Bank and Assured Insurance for supporting the event.

She and her committee of staff and volunteers can’t wait to see the artwork come in and the turnout at the distillery.
Tickets are on sale now at $65 a ticket. Tickets can be purchased on the St. Vincent de Paul NKY home page at

New location for Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky a ‘big step’ in addressing homelessness

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

After 12 years, Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky (ESNKY) announced Jan. 8 in conjunction with Kenton County and St. Elizabeth Healthcare that it will be opening doors to a new location in Covington to better assist the homeless.

St. Elizabeth purchased the new property, located at 436 West 13th St., on Dec. 10, 2019, from Steffen’s Tool Rental. St. Elizabeth, which had been providing an urgent care center in ESNKY for the last year, then transferred ownership to Kenton County Dec. 31, which will be operating the shelter under an agreement with ESNKY.

It’s been a long road for ESNKY since it began operating out of Scott Street in 2008. The current location, an old health center, was always meant to be temporary, according to Kim Webb, executive director.

The need for a more appropriate building became apparent this winter. With stricter enforcement of fire codes and occupancy laws, October saw a drastic reduction in the facility’s ability to provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness. While in previous winters ESNKY could shelter 75 guests, new code enforcement allows for only 32. Mrs. Webb said she hoped they would get an allowance because the fire board gives local jurisdictions the ability to make exceptions.

“We were the place the police could bring someone all hours of the night,” she explained. Unfortunately, the exception was not granted and this winter has been a strain on the center.

The new location will drastically improve the way the center operates. Geographically, it’s closer to the hospital, the Kenton County Government Center, the new Parish Kitchen and the Career Vocational Center. It is also still on a bus line.

Internally, Mrs. Webb said it’s like having an open canvas to design.

“A building’s size doesn’t make it large or small. Our building here is larger than it seems because it’s so cut up.”

Community donated supplies, beds and non-commercial blankets will make a new home for the center’s guests, designed to suit its purpose with 24-hour sheltering during extreme temperatures, daytime operations like shower and laundry facilities, a kitchen and space for community partners. Instead of one shower, one washer and one dryer for up to 81 guests on a cold night, the new space can be developed to better meet the needs of the community.

There will also be rooms for counseling, mental health services, career coaching and more thorough health services through St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

Mrs. Webb said she hopes the new center will be open in time for next winter.

“We’re going to use this (the current) space this winter and for our summer operations until we get the building designed and ready to go by late 2020, November or December,” she said.

Until then, ESNKY will continue to send overflow guests to places such as the Salvation Army and local churches, like Mother of God in downtown Covington.

Mrs. Webb said the shelter truly couldn’t operate without support and leadership from the community, and the will of everyone involved.

About ESNKY’s new home, Bishop Roger Foys said, “In this day and age we too often forget those who are not as fortunate as many people and who have need of something as important as the Emergency Shelter. The Emergency Shelter is a blessing to our community and I am so grateful to all those who in any way have helped to find a new home for it.”

For Mrs. Webb, it’s simply a matter of human dignity. “I try to look at their situation as if I were in it. What would it look like if I were in that neighborhood? What would I want to see? Then I’ll work hard to alleviate those fears and anxieties.”

“Everybody deserves to have a bed to sleep in,” she said.

Kenton County Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann has been the driving political force behind the new location. He was thrilled that all parties were finally able to come together and accomplish a long-time goal.

“They’re already offering many of these services but they just don’t have the space,” he said. “Once you have the space, then you can start inviting partners in to meet with guests and clients and get them help.”

Mr. Knochelmann sees it as a huge step for bolstering a thriving working population.

“We’ve got all the pieces in the region,” he said. “With the new shelter location, they can kind of be a navigating point.”

He cited a report begun a year and a half ago on the homeless population in Northern Kentucky. Agencies partnered with the state and various cities to gather information.

For the first time, data collected proves that “it’s not a Covington problem, not a joblessness problem,” said Mr. Knochelmann. He instead referenced a region-wide issue that won’t just disappear overnight. “All that data filled into a willingness to say ‘okay, let’s not keep talking a circle around the edges of this issue, let’s actually move forward.’ And this is the first big step.”

He doesn’t want the action to stop here, with the new emergency shelter building. In the story of homelessness, this is just one victory and he intends to keep driving forward discussion for solutions.

“It opens up the bigger discussion around what are we doing in Northern Kentucky to effectively impact the immediate homeless population and do this long term,” he said.

Parents advocate for scholarship tax credits

Laura Keener, Editor.

Two local women — Cassandra Behanan and Nancy Deaton — will be traveling to Frankfort, Jan. 27, along with many others, for the Celebrating School Choice rally. The rally takes place during National School Choice Week, Jan. 26–Feb. 1. Neither claim to be very political, but both share the same passion for school choice and support scholarship tax credit legislation.

Scholarship tax credits would allow individuals or businesses to receive a state tax credit for contributing to a qualified non-profit organization — like the Diocese’s Alliance for Catholic Urban Education — that provide financial aid, or scholarships, to lower income families who choose a non-public school for their child.

Ms. Behanan works in the cafeteria at Zion Christian Academy (ZCA), Florence. She is the mother of five children; two adult children live on their own; her third oldest attends Northern Kentucky University and she has two children in primary school. With only one scholarship available to her at ZCA, Ms. Behanan made the difficult decision to have her youngest child join her at ZCA while keeping her middle-school aged son at the local public school.

“When I started working here and I saw how the school was run and how the children were learning, just the consistency, I thought if I couldn’t get both of them here right now, at least I could get one here,” Ms. Behanan said.

But moving her son to ZCA has taken on an added urgency. Last year her son encountered racism that led to a physical retaliation. And while she understands her son’s punishment for hitting another student, she was disappointed that the other student received no consequence for calling her son “the N word.”

“This was his first experience with racism and my son didn’t understand it. I had to explain to him that since he is bi-racial this may be the first time but it won’t be the last time,” she said.

Ms. Behanan has talked to her son on better ways to handle racism but she feels he would have a better social and academic experience that would ultimately help him be more successful at ZCA. At ZCA, Ms. Behanana said, the faculty and administration have the time to handle student conflicts before they escalate to a physical confrontation.

“Here if children have disagreements they sit down and talk it out and work it out. I’ve seen it work,” she said.
Seeing how different school environments can impact a child’s education motivates Ms. Behanan to advocate for Scholarship Tax Credits.

“When this opportunity came I couldn’t do nothing but run with it because I have a child in a public school and a private school, wishing they were both in a private school,” she said.

Nancy Deaton’s great grandson is a middle-school student at Holy Trinity School, Bellevue. When he was very young her grandson experienced a serious fall and suffers with a traumatic brain injury. His skull was fractured in several places requiring multiple surgeries and hospitalizations and a helmet.

In addition to his physical challenges, her grandson also bears the emotional burden of having a mother that is incarcerated and an absent father.

When it came time for him to go to elementary school, she wanted a small, private school where he “wouldn’t be put aside,” she said.
“I’m not criticizing public schools by any means — they do a good job and they are there to help any child — but he needed a little bit more feeling of security and he was able to get that in a smaller school,” Ms. Deaton said.

Ms. Deaton said now her grandson is “a regular” child.

“He has an emotional story and when I think about it, it brings the emotion back to it and my heart hurts,” she said. “Now I wonder how I did it.”

She said she is grateful for the scholarship that enabled her grandson to attend a private school and thinks more families should be able to choose a private school for their children, which is why she supports scholarship tax credits.

“Education is an absolute necessity and it should be offered at the school that will best serve the child, not because of your financial status or who you know. Hopefully Kentucky will pass the bill and it will do exactly what it is supposed to do — help children.”

For more information on Scholarship Tax Credits visit For information on National School Choice Week visit 

Cemetery Foreman

The Diocese of Covington Office of Buildings and Property is seeking applicants for the full-time position of Cemetery Foreman. This position directs and supervises a work team consisting of full-time and seasonal employees. Overall responsibilities include meeting with pre-need and at-need individuals and families, assisting the Director of Buildings and Property with future planning, occasional broad maintenance activities on cemetery structures and property, and field verifications of plots. Desired qualifications include prior hands-on experience with cemeteries, grounds, or related areas, and a familiarity with equipment generally used in cemetery maintenance, including a backhoe. Applicants are asked to send a letter of interest, a resume with salary history, and at least five references with contact e-mail addresses to Stephen Koplyay, SPHR, at [email protected], or by fax to 859/392-1589. EOE