Candidates and catechumens ‘chosen by God … elected for a new life’

Laura Keener, Editor

“The sign of an active parish, that the parish is indeed alive with Jesus Christ, is bringing in new members, assisting people to hear God’s voice,” said Bishop Roger Foys at this year’s Rite of Election. “COVID-19 has affected the lives of everyone and every institution, including our parishes, but despite this pandemic you are here. My congratulations to the parish priests and all the people in the parishes you represent, for not only keeping the faith but sharing the faith.”

In two services at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Feb. 21, 46 candidates and 32 catechumens from 23 parishes were presented to Bishop Foys for the Rite of Election. Candidates are baptized Christians seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. Catechumens are unbaptized persons converting to Catholicism. During the Rite of Election Catechumens are accepted as this year’s “elect” — God’s chosen people — and are enrolled in the Book of the Elect. Both the elect and the candidates will enter into full communion with the Church during the Easter Vigil, April 3, at their parish.

During his homily, Bishop Foys explained that the word “election” as it is used in the Church, is quite different from what is familiar in the United States and politics.

“When we hear ‘election’ we think of opposing candidates vying for the same position. One will be a winner. That is not how we mean election in the context of what we do,” he said. “You have been chosen by God, you have been elected for a new a life.”

Bishop Foys acknowledged that on this day, in cathedral churches all over the world , the chosen come together with their sponsors and pastors to “answer God’s call and be enrolled in the body of believers.”

“Each of you has your own story about what it was that you recognized as the call from God — what it was that has led you to this time, to this place, on this day, to answer that call to join the community of believers in the Catholic Church,” Bishop Foys said. “We thank God you are being chosen and for you answering God’s embrace now for a new life.”

Spanish Teacher

Mary, Queen of Heaven (Erlanger), St. Thomas (Ft. Thomas), and St. Catherine of Siena (Ft. Thomas) are seeking applications for an innovative and faith-filled Spanish teacher for kindergarten through eighth grade during the 2021-2022 school year. The ideal candidate will have experience teaching elementary-aged children, have strong communication and organizational skills, and be effective at collaborating with colleagues. This position would be for a total of four and a half days a week: two days at Mary Queen of Heaven, two days at St. Thomas, and one half day at St. Catherine. Qualified applicants should email a cover letter and resume to Principal Julie Scherer at [email protected]

Staff Writer

The Messenger, the Diocese of Covington’s official weekly newspaper published 44 times per year, seeks a full time Staff Writer. Candidates must be practicing Roman Catholics in good standing with the Church. The position requires a broad range of abilities, including excellent writing, proofreading, and organizational skills; basic photography skills; a commitment to confidentiality and teamwork; a passion for completing diverse projects accurately, thoroughly, and reliably; and adaptability to interactions with colleagues, other Diocesan employees, and interviewees. The ideal candidate will be self-motivated and imaginative, with a readiness to explore multimedia platforms. In addition to regular office hours, evening and weekend assignments occur regularly and are considered part of the job. Anticipated start date: immediate. Interested candidates may submit a resume or C-V, at least five references with contact email addresses, and writing samples to Stephen Koplyay by e-mail or by fax, [email protected] or (859) 392-1589.

Clinical Director of Counseling Programs

The Diocese of Covington’s Catholic Charities ministry is seeking to hire a full-time Clinical Director for our faith-based counseling programs. Fifty percent of the Clinical Director’s responsibilities involves the administrative and clinical supervision of our counseling programs, and supervising our mental health, pregnancy, and adoption programs. Duties include staff coaching, training, accountability and evaluation, programmatic quality, and quantity assurance measures. The remaining fifty percent of the Clinical Director’s responsibilities involves providing direct service outpatient counseling.

Candidate requirements include:

  • actively practicing Roman Catholic in good standing with the Church;
  • a Master’s degree in Social Work (preferred) or Counseling;
  • a minimum of five years’ clinical counseling experience;
  • three years of management or supervisory experience;
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker certification (preferred), or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with supervision designation or supervisor certification eligible;
  • previous experience with diverse populations, which may include children, adults, couples, families, those with mental illness and substance use disorders, life transitions, all income levels, and various cultural backgrounds.
  • experience with DSM 5;
  • an ability to perform all the duties of an independent therapist, and to work either independently or collaboratively;

Salary and benefits are competitive. To apply, or to nominate a candidate, email or fax a letter of interest, C-V or comprehensive resume with compensation history, and a minimum of five references with their contact email addresses to Stephen Koplyay, SPHR at [email protected], fax 859/392-1589.

Parish Kitchen Weekend Staff

The Diocese of Covington’s Parish Kitchen is accepting applications for qualified candidates to help run and serve at Parish Kitchen on the weekends, as part of a two person team.  Depending on your availability, you could be scheduled as little as once a month, or up to 4 or 5 times per month on Saturdays and/or Sundays. Saturday and Sunday hours for Weekend staff are between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., as scheduled. Serving hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Reporting to the Parish Kitchen Manager, the weekend staff oversee all aspects of this operation from opening to closing, including food preparation, dining room setup, offering hospitality and creating a welcoming environment, maintaining order in the dining room and respecting all guests, and clean up. Prior experience in ministry, social work, and/or food is helpful.

Request an application from, or submit a brief resume to Shannon Braun at [email protected]. Questions may be directed to the Manager of the Parish Kitchen at 859-581-7745.

Is it time for the ‘Benedict Option’?

By David Cooley.

St. Benedict of Nursia was born around 480 AD; those were not easy times. Twenty-five years earlier Rome was sacked a third time, this time by the Vandals. And just four years before Benedict was born the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed. The whole center of gravity shifted from Rome to Constantinople and Italy was abandoned to the barbarians.

In the midst of this collapse comes a man who doesn’t, as some believe, leave the world behind, but realizes that in the midst of all this chaos he must find a way to stay focused on what truly matters. That was Benedict. Out of that humble beginning formed a community of people living together seeking God and helping anyone that needed them. That community was a social experiment that welcomed barbarians, soldiers and sons of senators all in the same place, and it changed the course of Western civilization.

I think it’s fair to say that we also live in a time of turmoil. But as Catholics, as Christians, this is nothing new for us. Still, somedays, life can be overwhelming. We all have our list of reasons, or excuses, to not be optimistic about the way things are going. But we have to examine that list of reasons and remove anything that puts us in a frame of mind that drags us down into the muck of the world instead of pushing us to live the way God intended us to live.

I don’t always practice what I preach. Some things, just to name a few, that I let get me down and discouraged are the condition of our culture, too much technology and the hostile political climate. I often feel that we rely too much on the powers-that-be to fix issues that aren’t just social-political but moral as well.

This leads me to another thing that gets me down — the state of the Catholic Church. I worry about the fact that a large percentage of people keep drifting away from the sacraments with very few of us knowing what to do about it. And those leaving the Church almost certainly have no idea what they are leaving behind.

One of the blessings in my life is that I always seem to find the right book to read at the right time. As 2020 turned to 2021, I found myself reading a book called “The Benedict Option” by Rod Dreher. The subtitle is “A strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation.” In the book, Mr. Dreher laments that the Church ought to be a powerful counterforce to the radical individualism and secularism of modernity and yet it is often finds itself ineffective in combating the forces of cultural decline. The main argument of the book is that serious Christians need to do the same thing that St. Benedict did in the sixth century. No, not to go live in a monastery — at least not exactly.

Think about it this way, Benedict lived in unprecedented dark times but he was focused, organized and creative. He wasn’t scared to live out the mission of Church, without compromise, no matter what it costed. He read the signs of the times, stayed focused on the Lord and converted people by the way he lived. Everything came down to prayer, work and community.

Mr. Dreher writes: “We have to develop creative, communal solutions to help us hold onto our faith and our values in a world growing ever more hostile to them. We have to choose to make a decisive leap into a truly counter-cultural way of living Christianity, or we will doom our children and our children’s children to assimilation.” What he is talking about is no easy task, and it does require a type of withdrawal from the world. The Benedict Option is a strategic spiritual withdrawal, not necessarily a physical one.

So, where do we start? Luckily, we already have small Catholic communities established — we call them parishes. Parishes are all part of Local Church (or diocese) but strategically placed throughout the neighborhoods of Northern Kentucky. If we can convert the neighborhoods then we can convert the city. If we reach the city then we could win over the state. If we transform the state then, maybe, we can’t save the culture. Then again maybe we can’t, but we are still supposed to try.

How we do all this is where the creativity and innovation come in. We can start small, in our own homes, in our families and in small groups of families. We must preserve our history and traditional Christian values. As disciples of Christ we are called to work together, keep building each other up, and challenge the world to seek the good, the true and the beautiful.

“At the root of the collapse of the West, there is a cultural identity crisis,” said Cardinal Robert Sarah. “The West no longer knows who it is, because it no longer knows and does not want to know who made it, who established it, as it was and as it is. Many countries today ignore their own history. This self-suffocation naturally leads to a decadence that opens the path to new, barbaric civilizations.”

Perhaps the West is doomed to fall again, but, we know that God is always in charge and that we are never completely helpless. If you feel overly concerned, I recommend reading “The Benedict Option.” The book offers a critique of modern culture but also tells stories of Christians today who are pioneering creative ways to live out the faith joyfully and counter-culturally. It is both humbling and inspiring at the same time.

St. Benedict responded to the collapse of Roman civilization by founding a monastic order. The question before us now is: how will we face the vast and unique challenges of our times?

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

Candidates for permanent diaconate installed as acolytes at cathedral

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Bishop Roger Foys installed 16 candidates for the permanent diaconate to the ministry of acolyte Feb 7 at the 10 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption. Three candidates were from parishes in the Diocese of Covington and the remaining 13 from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The candidates for the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of Covington are Kevin Cranley, St. Timothy Parish, Union; Adam Feinauer, St. Agnes Parish, Ft. Wright; Eric Ritchie, Holy Cross Parish, Latonia; and Tom Murrin, St. Philip Parish, Melbourne, who was unable to attend.

During Mass, the candidates were presented to Bishop Foys. He urged them to be faithful to the call they have received: “In performing your ministry, bear in mind that as you share the one bread with your brothers and sisters, so you form one body with them, show a sincere love for Christ’s Mystical Body, God’s holy people, especially the weak and the sick. Be obedient to the commandment which the Lord gave to his apostles at the Last Supper: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’”

Bishop Foys presented each candidate with a ciborium containing bread. As each candidate knelt, clasping the ciborium Bishop Foys said, “Take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his Church.”

Eric Ritchie prepares to kneel before Bishop Foys.

The ministry of acolyte, Bishop Foys shared, was decreed by Pope St. Paul VI in 1973 for lay ministers such as those preparing for the permanent diaconate as well as its traditional office as a step toward ordination to the priesthood. The acolyte assists bishops, priests and deacons at the altar, performing the ministry of deacon when the deacon isn’t present. He also serves as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

Bishop Foys praised the great service permanent deacons perform for the Diocese of Covington, calling them “indispensable.” He asked the faithful, as beneficiaries of their ministry, to pray for them, “that the Lord will reward them for responding to his call.”

In his homily, he reflected on the story of Job and his inexhaustible faith, suggesting that everyone look to Job during times of suffering as an example of faith and love of God.

“Job loses everything,” he said. “He’s brought down as low as anyone could possibly be brought down. (And yet) He refuses to curse God.”

He reflected on how many people have suffered in the last 11 months due to the pandemic “turning life upside down,” but suggested that it has been an opportunity for growth in faith. “So we can say with Job: ‘I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled night have been allotted to me. … My days come to an end without hope. I shall never see happiness again.’ We can feel that way. Job felt that way. But what saved him? His faith. His faith in God, even though his friends and his wife pushed him to strike out at God.”

Adam Feinauer is presented to Bishop Foys.

It was Job’s love of God and his relationship with God that enabled him to suffer without turning on God, said Bishop Foys. That should also be our response when faced with difficulties. He alluded to the Sunday Gospel, in which Jesus goes alone to pray in the early morning after a long and hard day.

“We cannot on our own solve every problem. We need the Lord,” he said. “So in stressful times, in difficult times when we can’t find the answers, we do what we should be doing every day anyway: we seek out the Lord. Jesus teaches us how to live. If it was good enough for him, to go and seek the Father in prayer, how important is that for us? When we take things to the Lord, and when we listen, we will be amazed what the Lord will speak to us in our hearts.”

Staying connected to the Lord is crucial, Bishop Foys said. “Take a lesson from Job and from Jesus to never let our faith in God waiver, no matter what. Pray, spend time with him. And listen.”

During times of crisis the mission, ministry and celebration of Catholic Schools is unchanged

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

On the feast of St. Blaise, patron of throat illnesses, and in the midst of a week filled with gratitude and fun, Bishop Roger Foys celebrated an all-schools Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington in honor of the 47th annual Catholic Schools Week. Each of the diocesan schools celebrates the week with different festivities, including crazy socks, dressing like teachers and rock-paper-scissors tournaments. They all came together in the middle of the week to recognize the most important aspect of their schools — the Catholic faith.

The theme for Catholic Schools week is “Faith. Excellence. Service.” Bishop Foys, in his homily, emphasized faith as the primary foundation for education. “This week was established as a time to promote Catholic schools, but also, and maybe more importantly, to celebrate Catholic schools and what Catholic schools mean to us — to us as the Church, but also to the wider community,” he said.
“Catholic schools were founded in this country for the basic purpose of transmitting the faith. That’s something that we can never lose sight of. Number one, always number one, is faith.”

He addressed the students watching from their classrooms with a call for open hearts so that the faith can take root. “Faith is the primary purpose for our schools. All those watching who are sitting in a classroom now, that is what the primary purpose of your being there is, to transmit the faith to you, so that you will transmit that faith to your family, and their family and their family.”

The Gospel reading, Bishop Foys said, focused on the importance of faith and its transformative effect. Jesus, he said, had been to many cities, performing many miracles and attracting many followers. When he came back to his hometown, he was amazed by the lack of faith the people there had.

Bishop Roger Foys delivers his homily during the Catholic Schools Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington on Feb. 3.

“He went home and they had no faith in him. Their faith was so weak, or nonexistent, that Jesus could not even work any miracles there. Faith is so important. Parents, administrators, faculty, staff and students need to be open to the faith so that it can take root and produce excellence — which leads to service.”

“Service,” Bishop Foys said, “is the giving of ourselves, freely, willingly, generously. Faith. Excellence. Service. The hallmarks of a Catholic school education.”

To the students, Bishop Foys said, “Your parents, because they love you, want to impart the faith to you. You are the future; you are also the present. Your role in the present is to be open to the faith, the faith that you heard about first of all by the example of others … You will be also called to be that example, to be that witness to others by sharing what you learn, by sharing your faith, by your excellence and your service.”

The pandemic, Bishop Foys said, has required many changes this school year. Teachers and students have had to teach and learn not only in the classroom but also remotely via live stream. Parents have had to make the additional sacrifice of assisting their child during times of remote learning. Everyone has had to monitor their health and many endure quarantines to keep the school community and each other safe and healthy. But, through it all, the mission and ministry of Catholic schools has not changed.

“Our Catholic schools have not changed because the faith has not changed,” Bishop Foys said. “If we are rooted in the faith, crisis such as this will make us even stronger in the faith because they will bring us together. It is only our faith that can sustain us in any crisis. It is in looking to the Lord and holding onto our faith that we can make a difference; that we can accept whatever comes.”

“The faith,” Bishop Foys said, “is what sustains us. The faith is what keeps us safe. The faith is what gives us hope.”

Bishop Foys ended his homily in gratitude for all those whose sacrifices make a Catholic school education a reality for families — benefactors, teachers, staff and administrators — offering a special word of thanks to Kendra McGuire, superintendent, Catholic Schools, for her leadership during this unprecedented time.

“Your leadership, especially during this pandemic, has been more than exemplary. It has been remarkable,” he said.

To the parents, he offered profound gratitude and admiration for providing their children “the great gift” of a Catholic school education and encouraged students to appreciate that gift.

“Thank you for loving your sons and daughters enough to provide them with a Catholic school education … Thank you for sharing your faith, for passing it on to the next generation,” he said. “To all our students, appreciate the great gift you have — to be a student in a Catholic school, and use this time profitably … because what you learn now will sustain you the rest of your life. Hold on especially to the faith — trust in the Lord.”

Kendra McGuire, superintendent, Office of Catholic Schools, addresses the school community with gratitude for everyone’s hard work and an exhortation to stay focused on Jesus Christ.

Bishop Foys concluded Mass with the blessing of St. Blaise and a blessing with a relic of St. Rocco, protector against pandemics.

Mrs. McGuire addressed those gathered and those watching on the live stream after Mass. She said: “It is so important to stop and really think about this gift of Catholic education. Giving thanks is often one of the first things we do during this week. We are so appreciative of … all those who support our schools, as they are truly a blessing and we need them in order to thrive.”

She encouraged everyone listening to think of why Catholic schools exist. “It is because of Jesus,” she said. “Jesus is the first teacher of the faith and through faithful service to him, we as his disciples carry on this ministry of educating others.”

To the students, Mrs. McGuire said, “You are learning to be Jesus’ disciples, who will one day graduate and hopefully continue spreading this message to the world in your adult lives. This is the mission of Catholic education. It is such a special gift to each and every one of us.”

New St. Vincent de Paul facility in Campbell County

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Residents of Campbell County are set to have even greater resources available soon. The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Northern Kentucky is opening a new facility at 3970-3972 Alexandria Pike in Cold Spring, featuring a food pantry and thrift store.

The new location will make resources for neighbors in need, and anyone looking for a great deal or environmentally-friendly way to purchase goods, more easily accessible. Centrally located in the county, the store will offer gently used clothing, household goods and furniture. The store will also accept donations. All purchases at the store help support St. Vincent de Paul programs.

According to Karen Zengel, executive director, the facility is part of a larger plan for their services Northern Kentucky. “Our whole objective is to be more accessible for those we serve in Campbell County,” she said. “People don’t have to travel far to be able to receive the support that we provide for them.”

The idea of opening a Campbell County location has been in the strategic plan for the last two years, but it took time to get in a position to do so, then actually look for the ideal location. This specific location has been in the works since spring 2020.

“This location is unique in that it’s centrally located in Campbell County,” said Ms. Zengel. “Our previous location was in Newport, and that space was not quite as large as the space we have the opportunity to occupy now, so it wasn’t able to have as much inventory. With this space, it’s right on the bus line and it’s 10,000 square feet — to offer a large inventory of choice and variety for anyone who would like to shop with us.”

Ms. Zengel will be hiring a new team to run the stores, with a new food pantry coordinator specific to the location and a retail team for the thrift store.

The food pantry will open March 1 and will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. and Wednesday evenings 4-6 p.m. The thrift store is set to open mid-April.

“The key for us is accessibility, and we are so excited and so grateful to the city of Cold Spring so that we can continue to serve in the most convenient way possible for those who are in need,” said Ms. Zengel.

Beginning now, and through Lent, work to enter more fully into prayer with Father Comer

Laura Keener, Editor.

In May 2020 Pope Francis began a series of general audience talks on prayer. That series is still ongoing with talk number 23 last week. Pope Francis introduced the series focusing on the “mystery of prayer,” saying, “Prayer is the breath of faith, it is its most proper expression. Like a cry that comes from the heart of those who believe and trust in God.”

It isn’t uncommon to turn to God in prayer during the highs and lows in life. But how does a person make prayer “the breath of faith,” something that is an ongoing and life sustaining part of faith?
Father Michael Comer, pastor, Mother of God Parish, Covington, began his own series on prayer, Feb. 3, titled “Beginning to Pray.” The series, however, is not only a tutorial for persons learning to pray for the first time.

Father Michael Comer

“My premise is we are all beginners — everybody is a beginner — in terms of prayer,” said Father Comer, noting that he includes himself in the beginner group. “There are no experts when it comes to prayer. I am just somebody who has tried to learn how to pray over the last 50 years or so and will share some insights and things I have learned.”

The series will last eight weeks with a different prayer focus each week, ending the week before Holy Week. Father Comer will record and live-stream himself on Wednesdays with a recording of each talk available on the Mother of God Parish website and Facebook page on Thursdays.

“This first week I introduced prayer and entering into the presence of God,” said Father Comer. “That’s how we need to begin, by learning how to enter into the presence of God and becoming conscious and aware of the presence of God.”

In part two of the series, Father Comer talks about different types of prayer — prayer of gratitude, prayer of praise, prayer of intercession, prayer of petition and even expressing anger toward God.
“I use a number of the Psalms to illustrate the different ways people have prayed to God,” Father Comer said. “The point of it is we have to pray what is real — whatever we are really feeling and experiencing, that’s what we want to pray, not just pretty words to God but a real heart-to-heart, letting God know exactly what’s going on with us.”

Upcoming topics include: Lectio Divina (sacred reading), praying the Mass, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, praying the rosary, the Jesus Prayer and, finally, praying Holy Week.

“Prayer is about spending time with God every day,” said Father Comer. “I hope that people, if they are truly beginners and never had a prayer life in any kind of ongoing way, they will experiment with prayer and begin to have a personal relationship with God.”

And for those who already pray every day, Father Comer said, “I hope that they get some ideas that will help them to enter more fully into prayer.”

Beginning to Pray
An eight-week video series with Father Michael Comer
Week 1 — Introduction: Entering into the presence of God
Week 2 — Different types of prayer
Week 3 — Lectio Divina (sacred reading)
Week 4 — Liturgical prayer 1: Praying the Mass
Week 5 — Liturgical prayer 2: Praying the Liturgy of the Hours
Week 6 — Praying the rosary
Week 7 — The Jesus Prayer
Week 8 — Praying Holy Week
Available online here.