Parishes prepare for evangelization weekend

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

The Office of Catechesis and Evangelization hosted its annual DRE/CRE and RCIA coordinator meeting, Feb. 19, in the Bishop Howard Memorial Auditorium.

The meeting included an introduction to Evangelization Weekend, tips for the coordinators to get clearance for speakers and an open forum for attendees to ask questions of the office.

David Cooley, co-director of the Office, spoke to the importance of Evangelization Weekend: “What is evangelization? Going out and bringing others to Christ by being Christ for others,” he said. “Our job isn’t to fix others or to get them to convert to our way of thinking. … Our job is to love others.”

It shouldn’t be forced, said Mr. Cooley. “It is a concentrated weekend to highlight something we should be doing 24/7 – 365 days a year.”

Evangelization Weekend was further explained by Vicki Klocke, RCIA coordinator, St. Joseph Parish, Cold Spring. She explained it as a “come and see” event, sharing the Gospel message and introducing the RCIA program to non-Catholics. It will take place April 25-26 and will encourage parishioners to invite non-Catholics to accompany them to Mass.

Ms. Klocke said the goal is not explicitly getting people into RCIA, however. “Evangelization about sharing the good news of Christ, it’s not about adding members to the Church,” she said. “It’s about inviting others into a relationship with Jesus Christ. We want to show them that that relationship can be built in the Church through the sacraments.”

This year’s theme is “Lead Someone to Faith and Hope in God,” based on the readings for the third Sunday of Easter.

During the open forum, coordinators had a chance to ask questions and clarify concerns. One topic discussed was the upcoming new textbooks for grade schools, a project Mr. Cooley said is nearly finished. Currently a committee is discerning the options. The committee, through the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization, will submit a recommendation to Bishop Roger Foys.

Organizers hope that all parishes in the Diocese of Covington will participate in Evangelization Weekend April 25–26 this year and look for creative ways to share the faith with their communities.

Bishop Foys dedicates SHDHS’s addition, continues faith tradition for current and future students

Laura Keener, Editor.

The St. Henry District High School community celebrated, Feb. 16, the blessing and dedication of its new $7.8 million addition — the school’s first major building project in over 20 years.

At the blessing and dedication Bishop Roger Foys, together with David Otte, principal, and Dan “Boone” and Karen Riegler, campaign chairpersons, thanked all those who supported the project and the over 300 people who attended the dedication.

“Isn’t this terrific? Look at this,” Bishop Foys exclaimed as he began his final remarks after walking the entire addition, sprinkling each room with holy water.

“Our diocese has had a 167-year tradition of Catholic school education. What we are doing here today shows that we continue that tradition. Each generation has its own challenges and it meets those challenges not just for their own generation but also for future generations,” he said.

“My special thanks to Mr. Dave Otte who has given three decades to Catholic school education here at St Henry. And thank you to all of you,” Bishop Foys said. “There are alternatives to a Catholic school education but there is no substitute — you’ve proven that here today. God bless you.”

The February 28 edition of the Messenger will include a special section devoted to the St. Henry District High School.

Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl snack saves lives

Laura Keener, Editor.

A snack. Thomas Awiapo said that he owes everything that he has today — including his very life — to a snack.

Mr. Awiapo works with Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Ghana, Africa, and was the keynote speaker, Feb. 13, at the annual diocesan CRS Rice Bowl kick-off event at Bishop Howard Memorial Auditorium. The local CRS Rice Bowl event is co-sponsored by Catholic Charities – Diocese of Covington and the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Mission Services.

At the event student representatives from six high schools and 10 elementary schools come to learn more about the popular CRS Rice Bowl Lenten project and about local poverty and how 11 local social service agencies assist local families in meeting their everyday needs of food, clothing, shelter and security. The students can contribute spare change during Lent to provide for these needs.

Mr. Awiapo said he “brings a message of hope, for the gift of CRS Rice Bowl.”

Students were captivated as Mr. Awiapo recounted how he grew up in a village that did not have access to running water or electricity. His parents died when he was very young, leaving him and his three brothers orphaned. Hunger was a part of their everyday life. He said he watched his younger brothers die from hunger and the third, the oldest, left the village in search of food — he has not heard from him since.

Then, one day, CRS established a school five miles from the village, and while he did not have any interest in attending school, the school provided a snack.

“They tricked me into going … I loved that snack. Unfortunately, they tied that snack to the school and I was taken hostage (by the snack),” he said.

Thanks to CRS, Mr. Awiapo received an education, obtaining a master’s degree in public administration from the University of California, and working with CRS — “tricking children to go to school,” he said.

He shared his amazement at the abundance of clean water that is readily available in the United States, while in the village he grew up in people struggle to find clean water — even sharing water sources with animals, which leads to life threatening illnesses like cholera.

“What is life if not for clean water? Pray for those who struggle every day for clean water,” he said.

Mr. Awiapo encouraged the students — especially if they are tempted to waste food — to “remember my face,” and to think about his deceased brothers and others in America and around the world who experience hunger every day.

He ended his talk encouraging students to find small ways they might be able to help others.

“God blessed us all so that we can bless one another. I think Rice Bowl is one of those little ways we can bless one another,” he said.

Referring to the cardboard “rice bowl” box students use to collect spare change during Lent through the CRS Rice Bowl program Mr. Awiapo said, “When you assemble the little rice bowl what you are actually doing is assembling many, many broken lives around the world.”

Deacon candidates instructed to be ‘salt and light’ as lectors

Laura Keener, Editor.

Eighteen men — 13 from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and five from the Diocese of Covington — were instituted into the ministry of lector, Feb. 9, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. These men are candidates for the permanent diaconate and are studying at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Cincinnati. Bishop Roger Foys was the celebrant and homilist. Msgr. William Neuhaus, director, diaconate formation, Diocese of Covington; and Father David Sunberg, director, diaconate formation, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, were among the concelebrants.

While the ministry of lector is available to all the lay faithful, for these men, the ministry of lector is a step in their formation towards ordination to the permanent diaconate. A lector reads the Word of God — except the Gospel — at Mass and liturgical celebrations. When a deacon or cantor is not present, the lector presents the intentions and may lead the congregation in song.

About the candidates, Bishop Foys said, “They will be salt and light to God’s people through their daily lives and, in this instance, through their ministry of lector of proclaiming God’s word and teaching others to proclaim God’s Word.”

Bishop Foys invited everyone to join him in praying for the candidates as they continue their formation.
“As they are instituted in this ministry, I ask you to pray, along with me, … that God will give them the wisdom and the grace and the courage that they will need to always proclaim God’s Word, certainly from the pulpit but more effectively by the lives they lead.”

Join the Diocese at [email protected] Feb. 27

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Bishop Roger Foys invites Catholics from the Diocese of Covington to Frankfort, Thursday, Feb. 27, to learn about proposed Senate and House bills and to share their Catholic perspective with Kentucky lawmakers.

Presented by the Catholic Conference of Kentucky (CCK), the event will address the Abortion Neutrality Amendment, sanctuary cities, the elimination of the death penalty for persons with mental illness and support of Scholarship Tax Credits, among other current issues.

The day will include a morning with CCK staff, including Jason Hall, director, talking about the issues and answering any questions, followed by an opportunity to meet in small groups with individual legislators. There will also be a chance to observe the General Assembly in session for those who wish to stay.

Mr. Hall said this is a perfect first step for those who want to get involved in advocacy or in speaking out for Catholic social teaching, but are uncertain about how to do it, or feel intimidated by the process.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to, in a fully supported way, to get over that initial fear,” he said. “We help connect with the right legislators, you get to go speak to them in groups with people that are more experienced. It’s a good mix of people with experience in advocacy work at the state level and people who are doing it for the first time.”

The CCK was created in 1984 by the Roman Catholic bishops of Kentucky to represent the four dioceses in public policy on the state and federal level. It advocates for laws and policies that reflect Gospel values and Catholic social teaching.

Each diocese is given a different day this year to bring their specific concerns to lawmakers. It is hoped that this year an even greater number of the faithful will give the Church a voice in the public square.

Some key bills and issues the CCK will talk about at [email protected] Capitol are:

HB 67: Abortion Neutrality Constitutional Amendment — This bill would amend the state constitution to clarify that there is no right to an abortion in the Kentucky Constitution. (CCK supports)

HB 237: Severely Mentally Ill Exclusion from the Death Penalty — This bill would prohibit the application of the death penalty against someone with a diagnosed severe mental illness. (CCK supports)

HB 350: Scholarship Tax Credits — This would establish a separate income tax credit for tuition assistance based on contributions made to a qualified scholarship-granting organization. (CCK supports)

SB 1: Sanctuary Cities — which would charge all public agencies with the duty to use their “best efforts” to support federal immigration enforcement, even if that agency ministers to vulnerable populations and with personnel that has no training in immigration law. (CCK opposes)

SB 9: Born-Alive Infant Protection Act — This provides that a born-alive infant shall be treated as a legal person under the laws of the commonwealth. (CCK supports)

The event will be held 9:30 a.m.–2 p.m., at the State Capitol Building, Room 316, Frankfort, Ky. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

Buses will leave from the Diocese of Covington Curia, Covington, at 7:30 a.m. and will return at approximately 4 p.m. There is no cost to attend. To reserve your spot on the bus or for more information, contact Faye Roch at the Diocese of Covington (859) 392-1500 before Friday, Feb. 21.

Catholic Schools prepare ‘good soil’ for faith to grow

Laura Keener, Editor.

The annual national Catholic Schools Week celebration was held Jan. 26—Feb. 1. In the Diocese of Covington, schools held daily celebrations, recognizing the contributions that everyone — students, faculty, administrators, parents, volunteers — make to the success of Catholic schools.

Bishop Roger Foys celebrated Mass, Jan. 30, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, for the diocesan recognition of Catholic Schools Week. Student representatives from the nine Catholic high schools and 30 elementary schools in the Diocese of Covington attended.

In his homily, Bishop Foys said the parable of the “Sower and the Seeds” in the day’s Gospel is unique in that Jesus himself explains the significance of the soil, offering an opportunity for him to focus on another important aspect of the parable — what makes soil “good” so that it bears fruit.

“The sower represents the Lord and the seed is the word of God,” Bishop Foys said. The fact that the seed is scattered with abandon demonstrates that God, “makes his Word available to everyone. No one is excluded from the Lord,” Bishop Foys said. “There is nothing any of us can do to earn God’s love, he puts that out to us and he is very generous. It is the response of those who are given the word where the difficulty lies.”

Bishop Foys said there are three things necessary for God’s word to bear fruit. First it has to be heard.

“To hear the Word means we have to free ourselves from distractions,” he said.

The second component that makes good soil is that it has to “receive” God’s Word.

“So much of what we hear bounces off of us. Some parts of the Gospel are difficult because the Lord makes some demands on us and we resist those — it’s like a reflex … it causes us to flinch because it means we are going to have to do something or quit doing something.”

The third characteristic necessary for God’s Word to bear fruit is, “We are called to action. If the Word of God makes any kind of difference in our heart, our soul or our life then we have to act on it. We have to be what St. James calls ‘do-oers’ of the Word and not just hearers.”

Preparing the soil so that God’s Word can bear fruit is “what Catholic Schools do,” Bishop Foys said.

“Catholic schools prepare students to hear the Word of God, to receive the Word and to act on it. We have to be formators and not just educators, to build a foundation on which students can build the rest of your life,” he said.

Chris Stefanick brings passionate reminder of Christian identity in ‘Reboot’ tour

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Nationally acclaimed speaker Chris Stefanick brought a message of love and joy during his “Reboot!” event at Northern Kentucky University, Jan. 28. The event was one of several across the country under a tour with the same name.

The evening featured a presentation from the T.V. host and author, who reminded the large crowd that “Life is a love story.”

Only when we remember that we are made for love, said Mr. Stefanick, can we truly realize our identity. “When something is made for a purpose and it’s used for something else, it breaks,” he said.

He encouraged his audience to remember that love makes demands and life isn’t going to be easy.

“If you have a God whose whole mission is to make you feel good about yourself, who lets you do whatever you want, guess who your God is? Your God is you,” he said.

The key, he said, is finding joy despite the circumstances in your life. Circumstances are only a page in a grander love story, and they don’t determine anything.

He then provided a list of five rules to a joyful life, with practical examples to live them out: give thanks, love yourself, love people, engage your body and remember the big picture.

“Joy is knowing you’re loved perfectly,” he concluded.

Mr. Stefanick spoke for over two hours and each attendee received three of his published books. Donna Heim, campus minister at the Northern Kentucky University Newman Center, and Thomas More University student Kansie Disney, whose initiative brought the “Reboot” tour to Kentucky, introduced him.

The event was sponsored by the All Saints Youth Group, Walton, and co-sponsored by Thomas More Campus Ministry, NKU Newman Center and Holy Cross Parish, Latonia.

Mrs. Heim shared that Thomas More University and the NKU Newman Center have collaborated in the recent past by sending students to the SEEK conference in December 2019. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students sponsors the conference. By pooling resources of people and finances, Mrs. Heim said the universities could collaborate to bring quality Catholic speakers and content.

“We were delighted to work with them,” she said.

Ms. Disney, a sophomore at Thomas More University, heard Mr. Stefanick at a Steubenville conference in middle school, and has wanted to share him with the Diocese of Covington ever since. After he agreed to come, she took up a six-month publicity campaign, in which she used resources such as Sacred Heart Radio, parish bulletins and the Messenger to spread the word.

According to Mrs. Heim, this is just the first of many sponsored speaker events that the NKU Newman Center and Thomas More University are planning.

“NKU really supports Catholic ministry,” she said. “And it’s exciting to see the solidarity of the Catholic community to rekindle our faith.”