St. Cecilia completes Parish Center

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

A dream has finally come true for parishioners at St. Cecilia Parish, Independence. Under the leadership of Father Mario Tizziani, the parish recently completed a $6 million dollar building project for a Parish Center and addition to the parish school.

The community gathered, Feb. 23, to formally dedicate the new facility. The dedication included a ribbon cutting and a formal blessing by Father Ryan Maher, vicar general, who represented Bishop Roger Foys. Bishop Foys had planned to attend, but was unexpectedly called away for a family funeral out of state.

“The project at St. Cecilia School has been a long time in coming to fruition but it is obvious that the wait was well worth it,” said Bishop Foys. “What a tremendous boost the completion of this project is to both the school and parish community. I congratulate Father Tizziani and all those who have worked so hard to bring this project to fruition.”

Father Maher extended Bishop Foys’ greetings along with his own remarks. “What we have here, we’re celebrating a work of love,” said Father Maher. “So many hands were a part of bringing this together. … We are building for the future.”

The building contains a high school-size gymnasium with a walking track and lobby and concession stand, a large media center, STEAM lab, a parish meeting room, classrooms, an art/music facility and an early childhood learning center.

Father Tizziani approached the finance council about the project in 2011, but the idea has been in the minds of the community since the 1980s. The enlarged and improved facility will sustain growth in the 21st century.
Kenneth Collopy, principal, expressed his gratitude to a thriving community who was willing to put in the work for its children. “This space is going to make a dramatic impact on our children’s education here … it puts a roof over the three values our community is founded on — faith, academics and community.”

“It is perfect that we are celebrating today as one community,” said Kendra McGuire, associate superintendent of Catholic Schools and former principal of St. Cecilia School. “A community that came together and donated its time, its talents and its treasures seeking to build a facility that would meet the needs of its current and its future members.”

 

Bishop Foys also looked to the future. “It will serve the St. Cecilia community for many, many years into the future,” he said. “None of us does what we do only for ourselves and for our own well-being. We look to future generations to build on what we have done. May future generations of parishioners and students of St. Cecilia parish and school face the challenges of their time and look with gratitude on what is being given them to build upon.”

Father Tizziani explained that he first proposed the idea after the parish paid off its debt in 2011. He formed the Parent Teacher Organization in 2012, which has since contributed about $60,000 toward the building project.
Initial discussion began in 2014 regarding what the parish and school needed. Father Tizziani and the finance committee then launched a building fund campaign 2014–2018, and ground was broken July 10, 2017. Century Construction was the primary contractor.

While the building stage lasted longer than expected, parts of the building became available for use in September 2019. The project was officially finished in time for the February dedication.

Mrs. McGuire, principal 2011–2016, explained that the planning committee was established to discuss the dreams for the school. They looked at similar facilities and calculated what they needed for St. Cecilia School.

They ended up with two valuable new assets — expanded room for the community as well as a daycare.

“Having the gym facility and the media center, as well as the meeting space, its added spaces that will bring the families and community together for more fellowship activities,” said Mrs. McGuire. The colorful media center includes a library, accessible technology and a history center.

The daycare has double the room, which means double the capacity to meet the parishioners’ needs. “It’s good for parents to know that they can have their children all at one place from a young age through eighth grade, and it’s faith based, that’s what a church is supposed to be,” said Mrs. McGuire. “We don’t just go to Church there on Sunday and drop our kids off for school, we’re there at other times and that develops faith because it’s more than just sitting in church pews, it’s our interactions with each other.”

Margaret Hoffman, member of the planning committee, echoed these thoughts. She said the committee thought students were at a handicap without a gym for practices and games. “It grew from a need to expand,” she said about the project.

“If you help the children, that is building community and all the functions that surround the children bring in the parents and the community to watch sports and support their education … it all goes together.”

Father Tizziani said that there has already been an uptake in enrollment at the school because of the gymnasium and a safe, local place for practices and games.

“We hear that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature,” he said. “Teaching children to grow in knowledge as they grow physically… I think our new facility really adds to that ability.”

Ms. Hoffman said the most impressive part of the project, however, hasn’t been the physical structure but the people who have made it possible.

“People have been very patient,” she said. “The fact that so much money was raised is a testament to the commitment of the members of the parish to actually fulfill this pledge over five years. That’s a long time to be fully committed to this project and I think the parishioners are to be commended for their diligence.”

Father Tizziani agreed. “Where we are now, this is St. Cecilia,” he said. Thank you for giving so that this dream is a reality.”

He also insisted that “this is not just Father Mario’s vision, this is Father (Robert) Urlage’s vision.” Father Urlage was pastor of St. Cecilia 1982–1992 when the new church was built, and was present at the ceremony. “We started this project on the coattails of a great pastor and a great man.”

Father Tizziani especially expressed gratitude for the restored crucifix in the center of the back wall from St. Matthew Parish, Kenton. It hangs as a reminder of the reason for the building, the same purpose as the prominent images of Jesus and St. Cecilia on the building’s entrance. The two stone friezes were crafted from carrara marble in memory of a generous parishioner’s husband. They were crafted in Italy and brought over to adorn the front entrance to the Parish Center.

Brian Harvey, associate director of buildings and properties for the Diocese of Covington and overseer of the project, said through the long production time, the end result is truly rewarding.

“To see the kids running around the gym today… that’s what makes it worth it,” he said.

“I’m satisfied and relieved that we’re finally in the building,” said Father Tizziani. “I give thanks to the Lord that it turned out so beautiful.”

Members of Diocese of Covington make Catholic voice heard in Frankfort

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Approximately 140 people from the Diocese of Covington attended [email protected] in Frankfort Feb. 27, making it the largest representation from any diocese for the annual event.

Sponsored by the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, the event invites Catholics to make their voices heard in the public square. This year, the CCK chose separate days for each diocese for a chance to “hone in a more local focus,” according to executive director Jason Hall.

Bishop Roger Foys attended and the diocese arranged for several busses to bring interested laity to Frankfort for the day. After an opening prayer led by Bishop Foys, Mr. Hall and CCK assistant director Andrew Vandiver explained the bills currently in the House of Representatives and Senate that the CCK advocates for or against. They answered questions about the current legislation and offered tips on how to talk to legislators when advocating for a bill.

In addition to Curia members, students from Bishop Brossart High School, Covington Catholic High School, Holy Cross High School, Notre Dame Academy, St. Henry District High School and Villa Madonna Academy attended as well. Mr. Hall said the diocese tripled the record for a diocesan visit.

A notable bill the CCK supports is HB 67, the Abortion Neutrality Amendment, sponsored by Representative Joe Fischer of Campbell County. This would clarify that there is nothing in the state constitution to necessitate a right to an abortion, should Roe v. Wade be overturned in the federal court.

Mr. Hall said that CCK is also advocating for SB 9, sponsored by Senator Whitney Westerfield, protecting infants born alive; HB 237/SB 154, sponsored by Representative Chad McCoy, preventing the death penalty for the severely mentally ill; and HB 350, sponsored by Rep. Chad McCoy, advocating for Scholarship Tax Credits.

Many of the attendees observed the session debating SB 154, which would prohibit the death penalty for those with a severe mental illness. It was passed, but with a request for clarification of language on many points and definitions that remained vague, such as the time of the documentation of the mental illness.

Representatives and senators engaged in candid discussions before and after these sessions with the representatives from the diocese.

“I enjoyed listening to the arguments for and against the bills,” said Jennifer Cox, DPAA secretary, Office of Stewardship and Mission Services. “I was impressed by those politicians who explained why they voted for or against a particular issue. It was nice to hear that some would support it if some of the verbiage was changed or made clearer.”

Kate Hale, a student from Notre Dame Academy, Park Hills, said: “It was a great learning experience, where I not only got to see the Kentucky legislature in action, but I was also exposed to current issues that relate to the Catholic faith.”

Beloved Cathedral curator retires, reflects on years of service

Laura Keener, Editor.

For 28 years Berry Mang has been unlocking and locking the doors at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. Last month he officially hung up his keys. Bishop Roger Foys, Father Ryan Maher, rector, and the Cathedral community joyfully celebrated, Sunday, Feb. 23, the retirement of the beloved curator.

“For over 28 years Berry Mang has served St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish with selfless dedication,” said Father Maher. “Berry has given these years of his life to faithful and outstanding service not only to the clergy and parishioners of the Cathedral, but also to an untold number of guests and visitors over his years of ministry at the Cathedral Basilica. Berry faithfully carried out his ministry everyday and on weekends, doing so much behind the scenes to help ensure that the Cathedral is a welcoming place and that everything was prepared and in order for liturgical services. On behalf of the Cathedral clergy, staff and parishioners, and many guests and visitors, I wish Berry a very blessed, grace filled and healthy retirement.”

Mr. Mang’s daily presence and gentle care of the cathedral and the people who worship and visit there has earned him the moniker “Mr. Cathedral.” His official title was Facilities Manager and Director of Volunteers.

He began his ministry in 1992, not long after he and his wife, Carol, converted to Catholicism. The couple was married in 1965. They met at St. Elizabeth Hospital — she was in nursing school and he was working his way through college as an x-ray technician. The year after his graduation the couple married. This year they will celebrate their 55th anniversary together — a long time.

“It’s been longer for her,” he laughs. “I got the better end of that deal.”

Mrs. Mang volunteers at the Cathedral as an usher and greeter.

“We work well together,” Mr. Mang said, noting that his wife is the oldest of 7 children and “a great organizer. I’m an only child so I come up with crazy ideas. That’s a good team — one has ideas and the other has organization.”

During his time at the Cathedral he was also head of the Cathedral Foundation for three years and Parish Council president for five years. When talking with Mr. Mang you quickly realize that he prefers to talk about other people than himself. He has worked for three bishops — Bishop William Hughes, Bishop Robert Muench and Bishop Roger Foys — and five rectors, Father Raymond Hartman, Father John Cahill, Msgr. William Cleves, Msgr. William Neuhaus and Father Ryan Maher, respectively.

“It’s been a great experience, they are all good people,” he said.

Msgr. Stanley Fleming began Mr. Mang’s Christian initiation instructions when he was entering the Church; Father Hartman was the rector who, in 1992, administered the sacraments of initiation. Not long after that Father Hartman was assigned to Mother of God Parish, Covington.

“I would tease him that as soon as I joined he decided to go elsewhere,” he said.

Father Cahill, Mr. Mang said, was instrumental in positioning the Cathedral as a welcoming place for visitors to worship and visit.

“He started the greeter program and the docent program; he built off of suggestions from parish council,” he said.

Recently, the docent program has been reenergized and the number of docents has increased “thanks to Steve Enzweiler,” he said. Mr. Enzweiler was recently named Cathedral historian.

Mr. Mang said that the Cathedral receives “a tremendous amount visitors from around the country and the world.”
A conservative estimate, he said, is about 15,000 a year. He said that visitors increased exponentially after the building of “The Ark” exhibit in Williamstown. “You might say we’re spillover from The Ark,” he quipped.
And while the Cathedral may not have been first on the visitor’s list, Mr. Mang said that the Cathedral awes visitors.

“Usually, they come through the door and look up. Some even say ‘wow!’ Then, after they settle down a little bit, the next question is, ‘Can we take pictures?’” he said.

About the current rector, Mr. Mang said, “Father Maher is an outrageous human being, so gentle and so wonderful to people. He has been very good for this parish.”

In addition to booking tours, Mr. Mang’s duties at the Cathedral includes assigning ushers for each Mass. A typical weekend Mass will require six ushers, larger liturgical events require more. There are about 30 ushers on the roster at the Cathedral.

“We make sure the Communion line goes well so there is no confusion, help people get seated, especially if there is reserved seating,” he said.

One of the most important tasks is “Making sure the door is open so the Bishop can get in. I always try to meet him out at the gate.”

Mr. Mang said that the installation Mass of Bishop Muench and the ordination and installation Mass of Bishop Foys were among the highlights of his career.

At Bishop Muench’s installation heavy rain exposed a leaky roof and a section of the cathedral had to be closed. That unfortunate incident may have been a driving factor in Bishop Muench’s restoration of the Cathedral — another highlight.

The recent entombment of Bishop Camillus Maes at the Cathedral was another historic event for Mr. Mang. “That was a wonderful thing that took place and Bishop Foys was totally responsible for making that happen,” he said. “It’s hard to say anything except good things about Bishop Foys, he has just been wonderful. He has reestablished the Church and got programs going again that we had years ago.”

Bishop Hughes, Mr. Mang said, “was exceptionally warm and gracious.”

Mr. Mang and Bishop Hughes shared a love for college football. Mr. Mang was a high school referee for 35 years and Bishop Hughes was a big University of Notre Dame fan.

“I would see Bishop Hughes and ask how are the boys going to do and he would say, ‘I don’t know.’ Notre Dame had some tough years but he never gave up hope,” he said.

About the three bishops, Mr. Mang said, “I have experienced the kindest people I know in these three gentlemen.” Adding, “All the rectors have been outstanding individuals and the Bishops have been unbelievable — we have been so blessed.”

Above all, Mr. Mang has enjoyed serving the people of the Diocese of Covington. “It’s amazing the spiritual wealth that our diocese has (in its people),” he said.

Mr. Mang’s favorite place inside the Cathedral is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. “It’s quiet and the Eucharist is in the tabernacle. You can slide in and pray and just be; stay for a little breather then go back to work,” he said.

Another favorite place is the Cathedral garden — another place of tranquility. Mr. Mang marvels at the development of the Cathedral square which includes not only the Cathedral and its garden but also renovations at Covington Latin School, the building of the Curia and establishing the Cathedral Parish Offices on the corner of 11th and Madison.

“This whole block has been developed beautifully,” he said. “One of the nicest things that happened when we moved the offices out of the rectory is the cooperation between the Curia and the Cathedral staffs is more intimate now.”

While Mr. Mang does not have any immediate plans for his retirement, he said that he and Carol will continue to volunteer at the Cathedral. “We have been so blessed,” he said.

“Berry Mang has given almost three decades of uninterrupted service to our beloved Cathedral Basilica in Covington,” said Bishop Foys. “His ministry was far reaching and all inclusive. To call him Mr. Cathedral would not be a stretch! He has an intimate working knowledge of every facet of life at our Cathedral Basilica and has given himself selflessly in every way imaginable.

“I offer him, on my own behalf and on behalf of every Cathedral parishioner and anyone and everyone who has ever visited our Cathedral, my profound gratitude for giving himself so fully over so many years. I know that his love of the Cathedral is sincere and that he will not be a stranger to us now that he is retiring from the day-to-day management of every detail of overseeing our Cathedral. I wish him well as he begins a well-deserved retirement!”