The Holy Family: An icon of Catholic life

By Father Conor Kunath.

In the eighth century, the Church was shaken by a controversy that continues to impact her devotional and liturgical life more than a millennium later. This controversy was about the use of images.

The earliest Church had discouraged the veneration of icons because of the Old Testament prohibition against them, but their use and veneration continued to grow. The dispute came to a head in the early part of the eighth century when the Byzantine emperor, Leo III, made the use of icons illegal. This prohibition stirred up occasional, but nonetheless severe, persecutions against those who used them. The controversy raged for more than a century, until an ecumenical council and the Byzantine Empress Theodora brought it to an end in AD 843. As a result, the use of icons and images in the Catholic Church has become an essential part of her devotional life worldwide.

One reason the Church approved the use of images was because of the incarnation: Since Christ, the second person of the Trinity, assumed human flesh, then humanity has the ability to depict God. The human flesh of Christ gives the Church access to a real image of God himself. So then if God has given us an image of himself, it must be acceptable to portray him.

There is an immense beauty in this reasoning, because suddenly Christ’s life becomes even more full of meaning. The human actions that he performs are now charged with theological significance. His attendance at the wedding feast of Cana shows God’s love and design for the institution of marriage. At that same feast Christ miraculously transforms water into wine; this demonstrates that wine, and all of the wonderful gifts that God gives us, are meant to be enjoyed. For these reasons, the life of the Christian is not one of sorrow, but one of immense joy, because the Christian sees, through faith, that all of creation and its beauty is a sort of love letter from God himself. Creation is meant for our enjoyment and pleasure.

Among the most meaningful displays of this theological logic is the Holy Family itself. Think about the situation of the Holy Family. God chooses Mary to be the mother of his only Son, and she gently accepts the offer, but she is already married to a man named Joseph. On account of her pregnancy, he would like to divorce her, but God has Joseph take her into his home.

This is a wonderfully significant series of events. God is, without doubt, the father of the child Jesus. Naturally, because he is God, he could have easily and directly provided for his Son. That is not what he chose to do. Rather, he chose Joseph as the earthly father and protector of Jesus. Choosing Joseph as the earthly father of Jesus shows how crucial the role of the father is in the family, and how critical it is for us, as humans, to have a mother and a father. This choice by God displays the complementarity of the sexes. Mary and Joseph together manifest that original oneness for which God created man and woman, and provide a perfect example of what married life can be.

Even more than just the significance of man and wife, the Holy Family shows the deep meaning of both fertility and virginity. Mary is privileged to be perpetually virginal, but also fertile. God uses her womb as the entry point for his only begotten Son, Jesus, yet she remains a virgin throughout her entire life.

On the one hand, we have Mary as the perfect image of purity, the handmaid of the Lord, who consecrates her physical virginity to God. She is a wonderful example of the glory of virginity.

On the other hand, she is also chosen to be the mother of God. Her virginal womb becomes the dwelling place of the Most High. She, a virgin, is to bear the most consequential pregnancy the world has ever known.

Thus Mary is doubly blessed. Not only does she model for us immaculate virginity and the glory of offering ourselves to God in that way, but she also exemplifies the treasures of motherhood.

Mary also becomes a feminine image of Adam. God took from Adam to make Eve without human procreation, and similarly God used Mary to incarnate Jesus without human procreation. Thus the Holy Family becomes a restored image of the first family recreated through his Son.

The same is likewise true for Joseph. He is given a wife and the role of father, and they are truly his, but his fatherhood is not physical. Joseph is simultaneously a model for both physical and adoptive fathers. Even though Joseph is not the physical father of Jesus, he is no less a father on account of it. He perfectly fulfills his vocation as father and husband.

Additionally, Joseph is a tremendous example for priests, who receive the role of father — husband to the Church and guardian of Christ’s body — but do not enjoy physical fatherhood. Priests’ lives are full of the glories of the familial life, without participating in it physically. They are called to be husbands, fathers and protectors not to their own family, but to holy Mother Church.

Just as the incarnation opened so many theological horizons for the Church, so too does the Holy Family open our minds to the wonders of family life. God greatly blessed the Holy Family in many special ways that make them truly unique in the story of salvation but that does not mean that our own families are not likewise blessed. The Holy Family proves to us that married and familial life is not a burden that some people choose to carry, but rather an immense blessing for those privileged to live it.

God chose a family for His Son to show forth the great blessing that is married life, motherhood, fatherhood and virginity. The image is clear for all to see: God gave us all of these wonderful gifts of married life not as a burden, but as a great joy.

Catholic pro-lifers should relish in the fullest and greatest way possible the mystery and gift that is family life. As the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family this Dec. 26, let us strive to become living icons of family life.

Father Conor Kunath is the promoter for priestly vocations for the Diocese of Covington and chaplain to Notre Dame Academy, Park Hills.

Middle School Lacrosse Coach – Notre Dame Academy

Notre Dame Academy is looking for a Lacrosse Coach to run our middle school feeder team for the 2022 Spring season.  This position will oversee the middle school team and report directly to the Athletic Director. All coaches must go through KHSAA and Diocese onboarding and training once hired. Please send a letter of interest and resume to [email protected]  Notre Dame Academy is a Catholic all girls high school sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame.


Varsity Cross Country Coach – Notre Dame Academy

Notre Dame Academy is looking for a Varsity Cross Country Coach for the 2022 Fall season.  This position will oversee the program and report directly to the Athletic Director. Experience at the high school level is desired. All coaches must go through KHSAA and Diocese onboarding and training once hired. Please send a letter of interest and resume to [email protected]  Notre Dame Academy is a Catholic all girls high school sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Varsity Volleyball Coach – Notre Dame Academy

Notre Dame Academy is looking for a Varsity Volleyball Coach for the 2022 Fall season.  This position will oversee the program and report directly to the Athletic Director. Experience at the high school level is desired. All coaches must go through KHSAA and Diocese onboarding and training once hired. Please send a letter of interest and resume to [email protected]  Notre Dame Academy is a Catholic all girls high school sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame.


English Teacher – Holy Cross High School

Holy Cross High School has an immediate opening for a full time English Teacher for the 2021-22 school year.   The ideal candidate would be an experienced teacher, have a bachelor’s degree, and be certified by the State of Kentucky to teach English.  Please send cover letter and resume to Principal Mike Holtz – subject English Position at [email protected]

Thomas More University: Professional Academic Tutor/Coach 

The Thomas More University Institute for Learning Differences (ILD), is seeking professional tutors/academic coaches. The ILD is a comprehensive support program designed for college students with documented learning disabilities.  Working with ILD students the tutor/coach will implement student-centric methods focusing on learning strategies and content knowledge while applying best practices for students with learning differences.  Students meet with tutors according to a set schedule each week throughout the semester.

Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in your content area or field related to learning differences required. Excellent English communication skills required. Must possess the ability to interact with a diverse student population.  Needs for American Sign Language, Biology, Business, Communications, Computer Science, Law,  Psychology, and Sociology.

For more information, contact Dr. Andrea Milani ([email protected]) or the ILD department at 859-344-3582 ([email protected]).


Saint Mary Academy – Principal

Saint Mary Academy (SMA), a National Blue-Ribbon School of Excellence in Louisville, KY, is searching for an experienced Catholic principal for the 2022/2023 academic year. Supporting our principal with a full-time student counselor, two learning coordinators, and two assistant principals, SMA seeks to build a foundation for lifelong learning by opening hearts to faith, minds to knowledge, hands to service, and eyes to the world so as to achieve extraordinary lives. We are a growing Catholic school ministry of Saint Bernadette Catholic parish with strong parental support. Our current enrollment is 490 students from Pre-school through eighth grade. Inquires and resumes may be sent to [email protected]. The deadline for applications is March 4th , 2022.




Saint Vincent de Paul – Formation and Service Learning Director

REPORTS TO:  Senior Director of Services   

SCOPE OF POSITION: The Formation and Service Learning Director is responsible for advancing St. Vincent de Paul’s mission through the development and facilitation of formation and training content and events for Vincentians, staff, retreatants, and volunteers as well as offering strategic oversight of the Service Learning program, made up of the Ozanam Center for Service Learning and the Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati programs.  The Formation and Service Learning Director values and models Vincentian spirituality, friendship and service and acts as a spiritual animator for the District Council.


  1. Conferences Formation:
    1. Work closely with the Senior Director of Services and the Director of Conferences to define the annual formation and training offerings for the Cincinnati District Council, supporting the needs of Vincentians as identified by Conference assessments, the Upward Together Strategic Plan, and the foundational documents of the Society
    2. Plan, promote and deliver formation and training events, including the Ozanam Orientation, retreats, spiritual celebrations, and liturgies for the Cincinnati District Council
    3. Assist the Conferences Manager in the planning and execution of other Cincinnati District Council events (e.g., Fellowship Mass & Reception, District Meetings)
    4. Evaluate each formation and training event, working toward continual improvement in the events themselves and in the schedule overall
    5. Lead the Cincinnati District Council Formation Committee, including identifying new Committee members and managing quarterly Committee meetings
    6. Identify potential new presenters and formators and participate in their formation and training
    7. Support and advocate for growth in Vincentian spirituality throughout the District to include creating spiritual content for Council communications
    8. Provide any necessary formation and training to support Conference Spiritual Advisors
    9. Maintain Cincinnati District Council formation and training records and report results as requested
    10. Maintain and make available a library of support materials to enrich Vincentian experience
    11. Attend Conference meetings as needed in order to reinforce Vincentian spirituality and values
    12. Prepare prayers, reflections and retreats for Society Board meetings as requested
    13. Collaborate and support the formation and training needs of the Hamilton and St. Martin Districts as time permits
  1. Service Learning:
  1. Supervise Service Learning staff; including coordinating and developing a cohesive team, planning for and coordinating hiring processes, conducting evaluations and developing plans to develop employees’ skills
  2. Develop and oversee strategic planning for Service Learning Department programs
  3. Serve as an active participant on the Service Learning Advisory Committee
  4. In collaboration with the Service Learning Program Manager, prepare and manage budget for programs within the Service Learning Department
  5. Assist in developing and facilitating retreats and workshops as needed, ensuring that retreat programing meets the needs of the community, including involving and supporting Conference Vincentians
  6. Develop and oversee strategic planning and outcomes measures for the VVC program
  7. Collaborate with the Service Learning Program Manager to oversee marketing, promotion and recruitment for the VVC program
  8. Ensure the VVC program is in compliance with AmeriCorps and Catholic Volunteer Network rules and regulations
  9. Other duties as assigned



A minimum of a bachelor’s degree and three years of relevant experience are required. A degree in Pastoral Ministry, Theology, Religious Education or related field of study is preferred.  Vincentian experience is preferred, as is experience leading faith formation and/or retreats for youth and young adults. While SVDP Cincinnati values a diverse workforce, this position’s uniquely Catholic nature requires that the ideal candidate be an observant Roman Catholic with a commitment to the beliefs and culture of the Catholic faith. The ideal candidate for this position has a history of successful program implementation and development; strong organizational and interpersonal skills; experience with leading and supervising staff; an ability to communicate well orally and in writing; and the ability to effectively relate to people of different cultural and economic backgrounds. Familiarity with adult learning processes, as well as solid computer skill proficiency including Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Outlook and PowerPoint) are essential.  This position requires schedule flexibility to support weekend and evening activities. A current valid driver’s license and the ability to travel offsite are required; applicants must be Safe Environment certified or achieve this certification prior to start date.


WORK ENVIRONMENT: Office environment; adequately lighted, heated and ventilated


PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:  Job duties can primarily be performed from a desk; however, there may be some walking; standing; bending; carrying light items up to 35 pounds; ability to drive or otherwise commute to/from and participate in off-site meetings & events is required     


Mission: A network of neighbors, inspired by Gospel values, growing in holiness and building a more just world through personal relationships with and services to people in need.


Qualified candidates are encouraged to forward cover letter, resume & compensation expectations to [email protected].   Thank you.


The Society of St. Vincent de Paul-Cincinnati District Council provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, St. Vincent de Paul complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities.



Bishop Iffert on discerning a vocation

November 2021

I have been accompanying young people making life decisions since I was a young person making life decisions. The advice that I offer is simple. RELAX. Be gentle. Pay attention to your joy.

I am always amazed at how permanent and high stakes every decision can feel for a young person. It can seem like life will pass by if you don’t do everything just right — just now.

A countercultural decision like entering seminary or consecrated life can seem especially fraught. The implications — for relationships, career, and even our religious life — appear to be immense. Surely listening for God’s call is serious business, but sometimes the best way to go about this serious work is to relax and pursue the things that give you holy joy.

If you are thinking about priesthood or religious life, first consider if you are in a habit of committing serious sin; the kind that makes us feel deeply ashamed, like we are living a lie that we can’t tell our family and Christian friends about. If you
are in this state, do not even think about seminary or a religious vocation right now. Don’t make any other big life decisions either. Sin keeps us from thinking clearly about all vocations — career and marriage, too.

Start going to confession regularly. Turn to Jesus and pray to be set free from that sin. Find a compassionate spiritual advisor who can accompany you. Then, when you are free from the slavery of grave sin, ask yourself if your desire for religious vocation has grown or lessened. Trust me, entering seminary or the novitiate will not make temptations go away. And you can’t atone for those sins by trying to fit your- self into a life that is not yours.

If, to the best of your knowledge, you are free of serious sin, then begin praying about and contemplating what is important to you and where you find joy and spiritual comfort.

Do you cherish your time in prayer?

When you go to Mass, do you think about how you would preach or teach the Gospel?

Is there a work of mercy that makes your heart go pitter-patter: caring for the sick, accompanying the elderly, teaching the young, feeding the hungry, welcoming the homeless?

Do you look for opportunities to share your faith with others?

Are others telling you that you ought to think about being a priest or a sister?

Do you long to be surrounded by people who share your faith commitment?

Do you feel a hunger to study the Scriptures or the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

When you pray before the Blessed Sacrament, do you feel at home, loved, inspired?

If a few of these questions have you saying, “Yes! That’s me!,” you should be actively considering that God might be calling you to priesthood or consecrated life. Reach out to a priest or religious sister who you know, or Father Conor Kunath, our diocesan Vocation Promoter, or to me. We will help you connect with someone who will walk this journey with you.

Do not worry if you are not ready to say with 100 percent confidence that God is calling you. We are not going to let you drop out of your life and into seminary tomorrow. You will have years of formation to “court” the idea of priesthood or religious life.

Others who have experienced this life will walk with you. In the end, you will not have to rely on yourself to make that decision. The Church, in the person of the bishop or in a community of professed religious, will be discerning right along with you about whether you are being called.

So relax. It’s not all on you. Be gentle, but don’t procrastinate. If you think God might be calling, take the next step. It is a joyful and blessed life. You do not want to miss the invitation!

Gratefully yours in Christ,
Most Rev. John C. Iffert
Bishop of Covington

Music Director – St. Joseph, Crescent Springs

Saint Joseph Catholic Church ( in Crescent Springs is seeking talented keyboard musicians interested in the position of Music Director. The successful candidate will be proficient on the piano and/or organ, knowledgeable about the Catholic liturgy and sacred music, and capable of leading congregational singing/chant and of training and leading a choir. Must be available to lead three masses each weekend: 5 pm Saturday, and 9 am and 11 am Sunday, plus availability to lead on major religious feasts and holidays. This is a competitively-paying part-time position. Interested candidates may submit a letter of interest and resume to the Parish office by emailing [email protected].