Laura Keener, Editor.
Yellow and white flowers surrounded the altar, and yellow and white bunting draped the main portal door of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Sept. 28, for the celebration of the conferring of Papal Honors. Yellow and white are the colors of Vatican City and brightened the celebration of Pope Francis recognizing the service of 31 members of the Diocese of Covington to the Church. (See listing of names below.)
Bishop Roger Foys had recommended four priests for the honor of Chaplain to His Holiness and the title of Monsignor, for their distinguished service and ministry to the Church. He also recommended two priests, a deacon, nine women religious and 19 lay faithful for the honor Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross, a papal award given in recognition of distinguished service to the local and universal Church.
As Bishop Foys began his homily, he acknowledged the peculiarities of the celebration — no choir, half the church empty and everyone wearing masks — due to pandemic restrictions. However, “the purpose and the reason for this celebration remains just as joyful and just as important,” he said.
Why papal honors? Why do we bestow papal honors? Why does the Holy Father who gives these papal honors give them to individuals? Are questions, Bishop Foys said, people may ask or be thinking. The answer, he said, can be summed up with four simple words that Blessed John Duns Scotus used to defend the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, “potuit, decuit, ergo fecit.”
Potuit — it is possible — it is possible for God to do this.
Decuit — it is fitting — after all, the Blessed Mother was the vessel who would bear the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.
Ergo fecit — therefore he did it.
“It was possible for the Holy Father to grant these awards and this recognition and it was possible for me to request it,” said Bishop Foys. “And it is fitting … every diocese in itself is a local Church but we are a part of something larger — we are part of the Universal Church. A celebration such as this recognizes our ties to the Seat of Peter and to our Holy Father. It is also fitting because we haven’t done this in many years and so it was time … Therefore, I did it and the Holy Father agreed.”
The Gospel reading for the Vespers service was taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and the familiar passage where St. Paul compares the Church — the Body of Christ — to the human body. There are many distinct parts to the body and each are essential to the whole.
“Every part of the body has to work in unison with every other part. This is very important imagery of the Church as the body of Christ. Each member of the Body of Christ is given special gifts and talents … and they are different, as different as each person. The secret is to use these various gifts, these various talents, for the benefit of the whole body.”
This analogy of St. Paul’s teaches several important lessons, Bishop Foys said, about the Church as the Body of Christ — to rely on each other, to respect each other and to sympathize with each other.
“Each part of the body has its own essential job. Each part of the body has to be respected as being important. Then, as the body of Christ, we are called to sympathize with each other. St Paul says that beautiful statement, ‘If one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. And when one part of the body is honored every part of the body is honored,’” Bishop Foys said. “If we really take this image to heart and really and truly lived it just think how powerful, in the best sense of the word, the Body of Christ would be. There would be no division, there would be no dissention.”
Bishop Foys acknowledged the various vocations of the people to whom the awards were being presented — priests, consecrated religious and lay faithful — all of which make up the Church. “We, together, are the Church, each following our own calling, the vocation that God has given us, and working together for the honor and glory of God.”
“Those we honor today have lived their life in service to the Lord fulfilling their own vocations, the vocations the Lord has given them, in communion with the entire Body of Christ. And, those we honor today are representative of everyone in our local diocese — the Church of Covington. Today we take the time out to say ‘thank you’ to the lay faithful, consecrated religious and priests who have truly been a witness to the faith and have, by their example, been a witness to others as to how we should live our lives.”
“My heart is filled with joy on this day and filled with gratitude. Everyone who is receiving this papal honor, it is my privilege to present this award to each of you, in the name of the Holy Father. It is a great day in the life of the Church in the Diocese of Covington — a day of good news, a day of celebration. I am so profoundly grateful to each of you.”
Recipients of the title ‘Chaplain to His Holiness’ and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross
Chaplain to His Holiness
Chaplain to His Holiness (Msgr.) is an honor bestowed upon priests who have distinguished themselves in service and ministry to the Church and who are at least 65 years of age. The title is granted by the Holy Father.
Rev. Msgr. Ronald M. Ketteler
Rev. Msgr. Gerald L. Reinersman, V.F.
Rev. Msgr. Gerald E. Twaddell
Rev. Msgr. Daniel J. Vogelpohl
Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross
The Pro-Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross is a papal award bestowed on clergy, religious and lay faithful in recognition of distinguished service given to the local and universal Church. It was established in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII.
Very Rev. Ryan L. Maher, V.G.
Very Rev. Daniel L. Schomaker, V.G.
Deacon Gerald R. Franzen
Sister Janet Marie Bucher, C.D.P.
Sister Celeste Marie Downes, S.J.W.
Mother Margaret Mary Fields, C.P.
Sister Marla Monahan, S.N.D.
Sister Frances Moore, C.D.P.
Mother Mary Christina Murray, S.J.W.
Sister Mary Ethel Parrott, S.N.D.
Sister Margaret Stallmeyer, C.D.P.
Sister Mary Catherine Wenstrup, O.S.B.
Mrs. Mary Brown
Mr. & Mrs. William and Anne Burleigh
Mr. & Mrs. William and Sue Butler
Mr. & Mrs. Charles and Mary Sue Deters
Mr. Timothy Fitzgerald
Mr. & Mrs. Mark and Casey Guilfoyle
Mr. Berry Mang
Mrs. Clare Quigley
Mrs. Karen Riegler
Mrs. Clare Ruehl
Ms. Margaret Schack