Moral courage and the story of the White Rose

By David Cooley.

“Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go …”

Those were among the last words spoken — 77 years ago —by a 21-year-old German girl named Sophie Scholl before she was executed by her own government in the dark times of the Nazi regime. Sophie was a loving, spunky, young girl full of life and laughter. So, what was the “crime” that brought about her demise?

Sophie, along with her older brother, Hans, and some of their friends at Munich University, formed a secret group called “The White Rose,” which covertly produced and distributed leaflets all over Germany that exhorted the people of good will to “wake up” and take action against the Nazis, who were committing atrocities in the name of the German people. The crime was “High Treason.” A total of three were killed that day, Feb. 22, 1943 — Sophie, Hans and their friend Christoph Probst, who was married and had three young children — the rest of the group was hunted down and killed not long after that.

The atrocities the White Rose spoke out against were not only the obvious crimes against humanity — which included killing anyone deemed “unworthy of life,” especially Jewish people, “useless eaters,” and enemies of the all-powerful state — but also the offences that the Nazis committed against the God-given freedom of the people. The rule of the day was conform and obey or suffer the dire consequences. I once thought that George Orwell’s novel “1984” was just an incredibly imaginative vision of a dystopian future that, while very frightening, seemed almost impossible. In reality Orwell was just taking notes from recent history. Living in Germany in the 1930s, if you happened to be someone who wasn’t brainwashed or completely apathetic to other people, was a nightmare. One of the hardest parts was not being able to trust anyone, even those you loved. Make a wrong move and they might turn you in to the authorities — and life was over.

The White Rose produced a total of six leaflets that, using beautiful and powerful language, interpreted the sign of the times and spoke the truth about what was happening all around Europe. The Gestapo (Nazi state police) spent the better part of a year trying to figure out where these leaflets were coming from so that they could track down and silence the authors. The first line on Leaflet 1 set the tone for the subsequent writings: “Nothing is more dishonorable for a civilized people than to let itself be ‘governed’ without resistance by an irresponsible clique of rulers devoted to dark instincts.” Another line demonstrated the wisdom the students had beyond their years: “If everyone waits for his neighbor to take the first step, the messengers of the vengeful nemesis will come ever closer, and the very last victim will senselessly be thrown into the throat of the insatiable demon.” The leaflets of the White Rose offered practical advice for how every-day people could defy Hitler and the Nazi Party in small but effective ways. The goal was to bring down the tyrants and restore dignity to Germany.

One of the reasons why I am inspired by this particular group of young adults is that they were compelled to act even when the easiest and safest choice was to not do anything. They ended up losing their lives even though they could have easily survived the war and lived out their dreams. Truthfully, they looked like members of the so-called “Aryan race” and they had a deep love for their country; and yet, they had an unwavering dedication to the simple difference between right and wrong, an unstoppable urge to seek the truth and the steadfast desire to invest the precious little time they were given in things that really mattered.

Among the many things that motivated the siblings that led the peaceful resistance of the White Rose were the Bible and the writings of St. Augustine. These two things formed their worldview more than anything else. In addition, Sophie also studied Thomas Aquinas and John Henry Newman’s writings on conscience. She and her brother both lived their lives always with an eye on eternity and finding consolation in Christ.

The catalyst of the White Rose movement came about when Sophie and Hans read an anti-Nazi sermon of the Catholic Bishop of Munster, Clemens von Galen in August 1941. In it the bishop openly attacked the Nazi euthanasia program. He wrote: “There are sacred obligations of conscience from which no one has the power to release us and which we must fulfil even if it costs us our lives.” They were thrilled someone was finally speaking out and Hans came up with the idea of finding an old duplicating machine.

But, on Feb. 18, after close to a year of building up a silent rebellion, they were caught distributing fliers by a man at the university and turned in to the authorities. They were interrogated, imprisoned and given a very speedy trial. They stood before their Nazi judge and jurors in the notorious People’s Court and demonstrated great courage. After just a few days they were sentenced to die … immediately, by way of the guillotine.

They kept their faith to the end, even in the face of death. During her trial Sophie said, “How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause?” Up to the last minute Sophie was given a chance to recant her stance and keep her life, but she just couldn’t do it. She would stick with her brother and her friends and not compromise what really mattered to her. It cost her her head.

Many times in life we are faced with hard decisions. Being Catholic in this day and age is not easy. The way of life we are called to is not hard because we can’t tell right from wrong; it’s hard because often times making the right choice results in our losing something very precious to us. What we lose might be our popularity, our security, or even our life as we know it.  Life is not fair; innocent people sometimes suffer the most. We need to look no further than Christ on the Cross for evidence of that. As Catholics we are always called to stand up for what is right, what is good, and what is holy — no matter what the cost. If those young students, in Germany, in 1943, could exemplify such moral courage in the face of grave evil and danger, can’t we find the courage to speak of and live out our Christian convictions today? While Sophie was willing to die for her worldview, are we able to live for ours?

David Cooley is co-director and office manager of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization in the Diocese of Covington.

Diocese responds to COVID-19

Laura Keener, Editor.

Last week, information and recommendations concerning COVID-19 (coronavirus) have been changing and spreading, it seems, as quickly as the pandemic itself. Governor Andy Beshear is taking a dynamic approach to stop the spread of the disease, which, as of this writing, has claimed the life of one Kentuckian who died, the governor said March 16, from complications of the illness due to several underlying medical conditions.

Here is a timeline (from latest to earliest) of instructions issued and actions taken by Bishop Roger Foys, and other diocesan leaders, in efforts to protect the faithful of the Diocese of Covington. It is important to note that diocesan staff is continually monitoring the changing conditions and updates are frequently made. For the latest diocesan communications, click here.

On Friday, March 13, Bishop Foys instructs that, effective immediately, any nonessential meetings, events or gatherings scheduled to be held from now through April 3 at any parishes, Catholic schools, diocesan offices, religious houses and other diocesan institutions are to be postponed or canceled.

This action, he said, is being made “In the interest of the health and safety of our faithful and to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

That instruction was part of a document that includes preventative measures and operational responses for parishes, schools and the Curia that were developed and recommended to Bishop Foys by the newly created Coronavirus Task Force.

The 16-member task force, operating under the direction of Father Ryan Maher, vicar general, includes three pastors, Curia directors and the directors of St. Anne Retreat Center and Catholic Charities, Diocese of Covington. The report was sent via e-mail to all members of the Curia and to all priests, deacons, principals and religious houses of the diocese and includes information on what parishes, schools and Curia personnel could expect in the event of closing as well as preventative measures to be taken.

“In light of the coronavirus situation in the Commonwealth and the Governor declaring a state of emergency, it is necessary for us to be prepared with a plan of action,” Bishop Foys instructed the task force via e-mail.

On Thursday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m., Michael Clines, superintendent of Catholic schools, sent a letter to principals announcing that Catholic schools will cease in-person instruction beginning Monday, March 16 through March 27. Additionally, all school extracurricular activities are suspended through March 27.

Earlier that day, Mr. Clines had sent a letter to parents urging them to prepare for extended school closures and encouraging them during this time of uncertainty.

“Our Catholic schools are such wonderful places to grow spiritually, educationally, emotionally, physically and socially,” Mr. Clines wrote. “It is at times like this that the foundation of our Catholic faith … will provide us with the wisdom and courage to meet any challenge.”

On Wednesday, March 11, Bishop Foys and the other three bishops of Kentucky, respond to Governor Beshear’s recommendation to cancel worship services. Noting the liturgical guidelines that were put in place earlier in the month, the four bishops, based on the information they had at the time, did not call for diocesan-wide cancellation of Masses.

“The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is at the center of the life of the Church. Perhaps especially in difficult times, liturgical gatherings are a source of comfort and hope for the faithful, as well as an opportunity to offer our prayers to God for those who are suffering or who cannot be with us,” the response read.

The bishops reiterate — and implore pastors to remind the faithful — that anyone who is ill, has symptoms or has an underlying health condition are not obligated to attend Sunday Mass.

Bishop Foys’ first communication to priests, deacons, religious houses and diocesan institutions (including the NKU Catholic Newman Club and Thomas More University) detailed guidelines for celebrating the Mass and liturgies.

These guidelines include refraining from the use of holy water fonts, distribution of holy Communion from the chalice, reception of holy Communion on the tongue and physical contact at the sign of peace. It also instructs that priests, deacons, altar servers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must use an alcohol-based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing holy Communion.

This first communication also reminds priests to encourage the faithful who are sick or who are experiencing symptoms to stay home; they are not obliged to attend Mass, that the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2181 allows for serious reasons such as illness.

Additionally, on March 12, President Joe Chillo, Thomas More University, sent a message to University and community members advising that he was extending spring break for most students through Sunday, March 22. After the break, the university would shift to remote learning using Canvass for all classes beginning Monday, March 23. Classes that are already online and for 8-week courses that began on Monday, March 16, will continue as scheduled and will be exclusively online. All University sponsored events are canceled through April 13. Mass will continue as scheduled but will be limited to no more than 75 guests.

“As we address how best to handle this situation, our main priority is to protect the well-being of our students, faculty, staff and the community,” President Chillo wrote. “Thomas More University is committed to finishing the spring semester and providing our students the academic instruction necessary to fulfill their degree requirements.”

And, on Sunday, March 15, in an e-mail to members, Donna Heim, campus minister, NKU Newman Club said that there are to be no meetings or gatherings (or hanging out) in the Newman Center for at least the next two weeks. This is in response to Bishop Foys’ and NKU’s instruction to cancel such meetings and gatherings.

“Blessings come from obedience,” wrote Mrs. Heim. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder and hopefully resolves the coronavirus quickly. Hope you make the best of this Lenten sacrifice.”

For all of these communications and any updates, which can happen quickly, visit the Public Health Concerns page.


Catholic schools to adopt non-traditional instruction

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

As concerns about COVID-19 continue to rise, Governor Andy Beshear mandated, March 13, that public and private schools in the state of Kentucky close for two weeks, effective March 16.

In cooperation with the directive, Michael Clines, superintendent of Catholic schools, issued a statement March 13: “Catholic schools will cease in-person instruction beginning Monday, March 16 through March 27.” All school extracurricular activities will also be suspended through March 27.

Education will continue during this time by at-home instruction, which is to be determined individually by schools according to resources and locale.

According to Mr. Clines, this Non-Traditional Instructional approach will employ both digital and printed materials, and students are expected to complete their tasks for academic credit in the same way as if they were physically present at school.

Students at most schools are receiving a daily e-mail with the day’s work, which includes lessons from paper packets they receive weekly from the school as well as online classes using Google Classroom, Schoology, ExploreMore! Gifted and other resources. These sites include a multitude of resources for students and their parents to foster continual learning while physical schools are closed.

Each school determines what its students need based on available resources. St. Joseph School, Cold Spring, for example, has e-mailed a recommended daily schedule from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., including how much time should be allotted for studying, breaks and exercise. This works in accordance with the number of subjects St. Joseph students are currently taking and how much time they should dedicate to each.

During normal school hours, teachers will be online to correspond with students and answer questions by means of e-mail. Most teachers are working from home rather than in school buildings.

Mr. Clines said that the School Lunch Program offered by the diocese will not be any serving lunches from March 16–20. Mr. Clines and his staff will reevaluate as the situation progresses and make a determination on a week-by-week basis.

“I hope you can respect our efforts and decisions as we strive to provide the best non-traditional learning experience for your child during this very trying time for our region, country and world,” said Mr. Clines to parents.

Tips for living in quarantine with faith

Messenger staff report

With children at home all day and evening events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s very easy to go stir-crazy. How can you continue to live out your faith with few sacraments and a different daily routine?

The Messenger sat down with David Cooley, co-director and office manager, diocesan Office of Catechesis and Evangelization to gather some suggestions.

Be conscious that you’re a role model and be careful to set an example of how you treat each other within the family.
Assess your own family situation and understand what each member needs. For most families, it’s essential to make sure everyone has a place to be alone at some point in the day. Then take the opportunity to integrate your faith into the mandated life at home and show your children what’s important to you.

“As parents, you’re the primary catechists and teachers are just support,”said Mr. Cooley. “Maybe this is a wake-up call that you need to brush up on your own catechesis so you can lead your family to grow in faith.”

Have specific times you pray as a family.
Without the typical schedule, including the morning rush, things can get off to a bad start. Cultivate your own schedule. This can include:
— Prayer before meals;
— Praying the angelus at noon;
— Praying vespers in the evening;
— Praying the rosary.
“Talk about the mysteries of the life of Christ with your children,” said Mr. Cooley. “Talk about how the Church is universal and everyone is praying the Mass and the liturgy of the hours around the world at the same time.”

Use your resources.
Did your children bring home their religion textbooks? Do a review of what they’ve learned so far this year — maybe even try making them teach it to you.

Watch some good Catholic movies, like the lives of the saints or Old Testament stories.

A simple Google search reveals thousands of Catholic online resources. Some of these include:
— — free books, CDs, booklets, Catholic commentary, streamed talks, daily Mass readings
— — movies, programs, audio, books — everything from sacramental prep to streaming Catholic media and talk series providing apologetics
— Catholic Answers at — an extensive database with answers about Catholic practices

Read good Catholic books you might already have in your home, like:
— The Great Adventure Catholic Bible
— The Life of Jesus: A Graphic Novel
— The Lego Catechism of the Seven Sacraments

Fight the temptation to be on screens.
“The world is already isolated enough. Use your time intentionally and make it quality,” said Mr. Cooley.
Here are some suggestions:
— Analyze media for Catholic themes. Listen to a Catholic podcast together and discuss it. Listen to secular music and talk about the Catholic themes you may find in it. “It might not be the reason they wrote the song, but you see the longing. Everyone is searching for the same thing… through (the musician’s) lyrics, what do you see in that story? It teaches children to start thinking about things in that way.”
— Create a sacred space for family prayer. “Bring some objects together from around the house and make it your prayer space,” Mr. Cooley suggested, whether it’s group prayer or a place where your children can go during the day to get away from everything and just be with Christ.
— Go outside. “Connect nature to God,” said Mr. Cooley. “Slow down and have your children take notice of what we miss in the normal fast-paced life.”

“Perhaps this is a time, when the family is forced to be away from everyone else, that families can learn to appreciate each other and being together,” he said.

These are just a few suggestions — there are countless more ways for the family to thrive amid quarantine conditions.

Two pro-life bills put on hold as General Assembly pauses session

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

The Kentucky General Assembly suspended its session March 13 and 16 in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 and minimize social interaction. Here are some updates to some of the bills the Catholic Conference of Kentucky (CCK) is watching this session. All information is up-to-date as of this print.

Two pro-life bills have passed the Kentucky House of Representatives and are headed to the Senate, though further action might depend on the progression of the coronavirus.

House Bill 67 and House Bill 451, both upholding further regulation regarding the right to life, should be voted on before the end of the General Assembly session in two weeks. The Assembly cancelled session for a four-day weekend and determined to reconvene as normal on March 17.

CCK executive director Jason Hall said it’s possible that all bills that are non-essential will get de-railed just because of the crisis with the virus. However, he is hopeful that these bills will be passed soon.

House Bill 67, the Abortion Neutrality Constitutional Amendment, would amend the state constitution to clarify that there is no right to an abortion in the Kentucky Constitution. It passed 71-21 and is headed to the Senate.

Andrew Vandiver, CCK assistant director, said it’s a necessity because with the Supreme Court in flux, “…we don’t know if Roe v. Wade is going to be upheld at the federal level. If it’s not, these issues are going to be kicked down to the states more often and there are other states where the state supreme court has found the right to an abortion.”

Mr. Hall said he was very excited to see the bill move forward.

“We’ve received conflicting signals over the course of the session so we were very relieved that it moved through the House,” he said. “Of course we still have to get it down to the Senate. … I think this is one they’d definitely be interested in putting on the ballot as a House proposal.”

He explained that HB 67 and Senate Bill 9 were priority pro-life bills this session.

Senate Bill 9 has already passed the Senate in January, is out of committee and is ready to be voted on with a House amendment. It only remains to be cleared by the Senate and then will go to the governor for approval.

The Born Alive Infant Protection Act, as it’s also named, is backed by Senator Whitney Westerfield and has been introduced for a few years in the Kentucky courts.

“It’s at the last step of the House process,” said Mr. Hall. He said the bill’s clear language is well-drafted.
Representatives Damon Thayer and John Schickel co-sponsored the bill. Mr. Hall said these two bills are essential because they “keep a focus on a very meaningful legislation that will have a real legal impact on the situation.”

“The General Assembly has passed a lot of pro-life legislation in recent years,” he said. “These bills aren’t for show, they really have a legal importance to them.”

House Bill 451, the other pro-life bill from this week, passed by a 70-23 vote and is heading to the Senate.
It would expand the power of Kentucky’s attorney general to regulate abortion facilities, including bringing civil or criminal penalties for violations beyond just seeking injunctive relief.

Essentially, it applies to regulation of abortion clinics and making sure they’re complying with the law has typically been the governor’s responsibility – this would transfer more of that to the power of the attorney general.

House Bill 350 — the bill that would establish scholarship tax credits — has stalled. In recent days a group of House Republicans are fighting hard to prevent HB 350 from getting a vote in 2020, said Mr. Vandiver.

Particularly concerning is that two Northern Kentucky representatives have told constituents who have called in support of the bill that Catholic schools in Northern Kentucky are not prepared to accept the students that qualify for scholarships — because of poverty or special needs — and would be mandated to take them. Both of these concerns are unfounded.

“The mission and ministry of Catholic schools has always been to educate children so as to break the cycle of poverty for families,” said Kendra McGuire, associate superintendent of Catholic schools.

In the Diocese of Covington three schools qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch Program. This means that a majority of students qualify for free and reduced lunches and therefore the entire school community receives free breakfasts and lunches. Additionally 30 other schools also have students that qualify for the school lunch program.

Catholic schools in the diocese already educate over 1,000 students with diagnosed learning disabilities. “The majority of our schools have teachers dedicated to students with special needs. Many are certified in special education or have training related to various learning needs such as autism or ADHD,” Mrs. McGuire said.

Every parent — regardless of income or address — should be able to choose the school that meets their child’s educational needs, said Mr. Vandiver. And while no member of the General Assembly would accept sending their own child to a school that did not meet their needs, “certain members expect other families to watch their children fall through the cracks,” he said.

Polls show that 62 percent of Kentuckians support Scholarship Tax Credits. It is time to know where members of the General Assembly stand, said Mr. Vandiver.

“Contact your senator and representative today, even if you have already done so, and demand that they put Scholarship Tax Credits to a vote. If they are going to oppose educational freedom for Kentucky families, they should at least be willing to do so in the light of day by voting on the bill.”

Under normal circumstances, Mr. Hall said, the public would see results from all these bills fairly quickly. With the closure of most public events, however, it will be a longer wait until these bills receive a vote. Updates will be posted in the <> as legislation makes further progress.

Second Grade Teacher – St. Joseph, Cold Spring

St. Joseph School Cold Spring is seeking a full time 2nd grade teacher for the 2020-21 school year. Candidates must be practicing Catholics. Interested candidates should send a cover letter, resume, and references to principal, Sue Greis at [email protected].

Religion Teacher – St. Joseph, Cold Spring

St. Joseph School Cold Spring is seeking a full time Jr. High Religion teacher, grades 6-8, for the 20-21 school year. Candidates must be practicing Catholics. Interested candidates should send a cover letter, resume, and references to principal, Sue Greis at [email protected].

Preschool Teacher – Holy Trinity

Little Patriot’s Preschool, located in Bellevue, Kentucky inside Holy Trinity School, is seeking qualified applicants for the position of Lead Preschool Teacher.  Under the direction of the Preschool Director the Lead Teacher is responsible assisting in the planning, development, and implementation of all curriculum and program activities in the classroom. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, a practicing Catholic, who is enthusiastic about their faith, and be Virtus trained or willing to obtain training. Interested candidates should submit their cover letter, resume and list of references to the Preschool Director at [email protected]

Varsity Basketball Coach – Villa Madonna Academy

Villa Madonna Academy High School/Junior High has an opening for a Head Varsity Boys Basketball Coach and a Head Varsity Girls Basketball Coach.  Qualified candidates should send a resume and letter of interest to Mr. Jim Demler, Athletic Director ([email protected])

School Secretary – St. Augustine, Covington

St. Augustine School, a K-8 school located in Covington KY, is seeking a school secretary for the 2020-2021 school year.  This is a full time position and the job responsibilities include: managing school records, answering phone calls, greeting visitors, daily and weekly communication to families, and general office responsibilities.  Requirements of the job include excellent written and verbal skills, a high degree of multitasking and time management, computer proficiency and the ability to learn new systems.  Interested candidates should submit a resume to Principal Kathy Nienaber at [email protected] or call 859-261-5564. for more information.

DPAA kickoff dinners testify to hope

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Two 2020 Diocesan Parish Annual Appeal (DPAA) kickoff dinners were held last week, March 3 and 5, at The Prizing House, Cynthiana and Receptions, Erlanger, respectively.

The DPAA is a chance for members of the Diocese of Covington to support the many ministries and services under the umbrella of the Church, such as care for priests, Catholic Charities, school grants, food pantries and more. The kickoff dinners transition the appeal from its leadership phase into Phase II, where leaders take the appeal into their parishes.

Last year, the appeal goal was $2.55 million, which was surpassed and the money collected over goal was returned to parishes. This year, the goal is $2.6 million and Mary Paula Schuh, 2020 DPAA General Chair, promised that the same rebate program applies this year.

The dinners also host the first viewing of the DPAA video, featuring taped remarks from Bishop Roger Foys and many individuals who have been helped by the appeal.

This year’s theme is “Hope does not disappoint … The love of God has been poured out into our hearts” (Romans 5:5).

Mrs. Schuh spoke on the theme and the difference made by each donation: “The DPAA is one of those life-changing things … Each one of you can make a difference in our larger community. So let us be known in the Diocese of Covington as a community of love, as a community that gives from the heart.”

She also commented on the timeliness of the events. “It is special that the DPAA happened at what, in my opinion, is the most introspective time of the liturgical year — Lent,” she said.

Bishop Foys also addressed the crowd following dinner. He praised the help that the DPAA gives to the parishes and priests of the diocese, beyond the larger organizations.

“This campaign can also be a real help to parishes that need money to carry on the mission. Your generosity has enabled us to do that,” he said.

He spoke to the significance of hope in today’s society. “People have been faithful and that is a testament to your faith, and that brings hope. The world around us is never hopeless as long as we have faith. … Thank you for giving hope to so many people who, without your generosity, without your caring and your compassion, might feel hopeless and live in a hopeless way.”

Father Daniel Schomaker, vicar general, Father Ryan Maher, vicar general and Father Joey Shelton, administrative assistant to the bishop led attendees in prayers during the evenings.

The second night officially closed the leadership gifts phase, ending with an appeal from Randy Rawe, 2020 Leadership Gifts Chair, to donate to this year’s cause.

“You never know where the check you’re going to write tonight, the person you help, where that’s going to lead,” said Mr. Rawe. He said he departed from his script after being so moved by the video that he had to speak from the heart.

“You’re here for one reason. You’re the leadership in our parishes,” he said. “I look at this video tonight … these are the faces of your generosity … these are the folks that you’re helping,” he said.

DPAA pledges can be made online at A pledge can be paid over 10 months, running from June 2020–March 2021. One hundred percent of all gifts collected over a parish’s goal will be returned as rebates to the parish for projects and ministries.