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.”

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.

School personnel in the Diocese of Covington grateful to receive first dose of vaccine

Laura Keener, Editor.

All Catholic school personnel in the Diocese of Covington that wanted to receive the COVID-19 vaccine have received their first dose. Administrators, staff and faculty at St. Edward School in Harrison County received the COVID-19 vaccination Feb. 20. In Mason County, St. Patrick School personnel received their vaccines Feb. 21. And over the weekend, Jan. 30–31, all of the priests, administrators, staff and faculty working in Catholic schools in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties also received the vaccine.

“Things really went well. Kudos to Kendra McGuire and the Diocese for having things very organized for us in getting the schools scheduled,” said Suzi Francis, PharmD., pharmacist and supervisor of Ambulatory Clinical Pharmacy for St. Elizabeth Healthcare, about the weekend.

Mrs. Francis and her staff administered the vaccines at the St. Elizabeth Healthcare COVID vaccine clinic at its training center in Erlanger. She said that educators of various local school districts have been receiving vaccines the last several Saturdays and Sundays. This weekend approximately 1,500 Diocese of Covington school personnel — about 94 percent — received their first dose of the two-dose regimen. Diocese of Covington educators will receive their second dose or “booster,” as it is popularly referred to, in three weeks.

Vaccinating school personnel is Phase 1B of Governor Andy Beshear’s plan to distribute vaccines to Kentuckians and an important effort to safely maintain in-person instruction at the 30 primary and nine Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Covington.

“The schools have worked so hard to be in school and it really was a positive atmosphere this weekend with the teachers,” said Mrs. Francis.

Mrs. McGuire agreed and expressed gratitude to all those who have made the vaccine available.
“I am thankful to the governor for including Catholic schools as essential,” Mrs. McGuire said. “St. Elizabeth Healthcare was fantastic to work with through this whole process. Things just went so smoothly. I’ve heard from so many of our schools who are so thankful for what they have done and it worked well together. It was definitely a good feeling at the end of the weekend to know that the school personnel who wanted the vaccine were able to get it.”

Daine Roll, kindergarten teacher, St. Joseph School, Crescent Springs, smiles beneath her mask while she receives the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pam McQueen, principal, Villa Madonna Academy, Villa Hills, expressed the feelings of hope she and her faculty and staff felt after being vaccinated.

“During the vaccine administration, everyone was so very happy — and emotional,” Mrs. McQueen said. “We are always so hopeful, but there it was before us — the vaccine. Words cannot express the joy and relief held in our hearts.”

Bishop Roger Foys also expressed his gratitude for all those working together to mitigate the spread of the virus and to help keep the school communities healthy.

“I am so grateful that our school personnel and those associated with our schools were able to receive the much-anticipated vaccine,” said Bishop Foys. “I am likewise grateful to our St. Elizabeth Hospital for making the experience so positive and for their professionalism. We are so blessed to have a healthcare facility like St. Elizabeth. We also owe a great debt of gratitude to our superintendent of our Catholic School system, Mrs. Kendra McGuire and to our COVID-19 coordinator, Mrs. Laura Keener for their untiring work and attention to detail in their efforts to keep our students safe and in school. These are trying times, but working together and observing all the necessary protocols will keep us safe and healthy.”

Mrs. Francis offered encouragement for those who are anxiously awaiting their turn to get the vaccine.

“Vaccine supply continues to get better and better and our goal is to use over 90 percent of what we receive within seven days. We are working around the clock to make that happen,” she said. “As soon as we get the vaccine in, we get it to our community.”

In addition to school personnel, health care workers, first responders and persons age 70 or older can schedule their vaccination. Next is Phase 1C, which will include persons age 60 and older, persons age 16–64 with high-risk medical conditions and CDC-defined “essential workers.”

Mrs. Francis said Kentuckians should check the Northern Kentucky Health Department and St. Elizabeth Healthcare website for scheduling updates.

“As we are able to expand to other tiers and get the vaccine in, we will make sure that website is updated,” she said.

Newly ordained Father Rielage has a compassionate heart and is of one mind with Church

Laura Keener, Editor.

The magnitude of the transformative event that had taken place for newly ordained Father Joseph Rielage and the Diocese of Covington was encapsulated by Msgr. William Cleves in his homily, Jan. 30, at the Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Henry Church, Elsmere.

“Authority is the ability to help people grow, to make their hearts larger, to broaden their vision, to deepen their faith, hope and love,” Monsignor Cleves said. “Father Joseph, as an ordained minister, is given the gift of that authority to speak in a special way. Your words Father, through the sacrament of the sick, through the sacrament of reconciliation, in your everyday ministry — the counseling you will do, the spiritual direction you will give — you are going to help people grow. This is God’s gift to you through the Church. How you live it is going to be your gift to God.”

Bishop Roger Foys ordained Father Rielage a priest for the Diocese of Covington the evening of Jan. 29, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. He is the 42nd priest Bishop Foys has ordained for the diocese. Father Rielage has been studying at St. Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, Penn. When he is in the diocese, he has been assigned to St. Henry Church.

As Bishop Foys began his homily, he welcomed the limited number of guests who were invited to attend in-person and all those watching via livestream.

“We are pleased that you are here this evening to celebrate this significant day in the life of our brother Joseph and in the life of the local Church. It’s been a wild ride this last year. We do things now that we never thought of doing before March of last year and we don’t do things we did a year ago,” Bishop Foys said referring to the limited capacity and safety protocols brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. But, he said, while some things are different, some things never change.

“Some things don’t change because they can never change — our faith, the truths and the dogmas of the Church, the sacraments,” he said. “And we still ordain priests, that hasn’t changed, nor has the ordination, because the Church still needs priests — shepherds after the heart of Jesus — the Good Shepherd.

“One thing that will change tonight, during this liturgy, is the change in Deacon Joseph. He will be forever changed,” Bishop Foys said. “When I impose hands on his head and call down the Holy Spirit, when I anoint his hands with sacred Chrism, when I say the prayer of ordination over him — he will be changed. He will dedicate himself wholly and unconditionally and forever to the Lord and to his Church. He will make promises here tonight, promises to care for the people of God — to shepherd them — promises to provide them with the sacraments and sacramentals, promises to pray with and for them, a promise to live a celibate life and a promise of obedience to his bishop and to any of his successors.”

As a seminarian for the Diocese of Covington, Bishop Foys said that he knows Father Rielage well, as he has observed his formation.

“I have found him to be very compassionate, very caring, looking out always for the good of others, very attuned and in tune with the mind and the heart of the Church, very thoughtful,” Bishop Foys said.

When Bishop Foys began the third Thursday Holy Hours for the priests of the diocese in Oct. 2018, praying for the victims of sexual abuse of children by priests and for the sanctification of priests and now for an end to the pandemic, Deacon Rielage gathered the seminarians at St. Vincent Seminary for a Holy Hour. It was an act of solidarity with his Bishop and the priests of the diocese.

“That tells me a great deal about him and about his witness and his example,” Bishop Foys said. “I think I know that tonight, when he is ordained and becomes a member of our presbyterate, it won’t be difficult for him because he has already been of one mind and one heart with us. For our part we must pray for Deacon Joseph and support him.”

Bishop Foys confided that on difficult days it helps priests to know that others are praying and caring for them.

“All gathered here tonight need to pray for Father Joseph as he embarks on this ministry. Pray for all our priests and pray that other men will hear and answer God’s call.”

Father Rielage will return to St. Vincent Seminary later this month to complete his studies and will receive his first assignment when he returns.

Events surrounding 48th annual March for Life held virtually amplify priority of protecting life

Laura Keener, Editor.

“I set before you today good and evil, a blessing or a curse, life or death. Choose life.”

“We just heard those words from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy,” said Bishop Roger Foys as he began his homily, Jan. 29.

The Mass, celebrated by Bishop Foys at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and live streamed for Catholic school students in the Diocese of Covington, was for the legal protection of life in the womb. Typically at this time, Bishop Foys would celebrate this Mass with hundreds of high school students in Washington, D.C., just moments before the March for Life.

This year, due to the pandemic and civil and political unrest, organizers of the 48th annual March for Life transitioned the events surrounding the March to a virtual platform and encouraged demonstrators to pray and witness at home. About 50 people representating the thousands of would-be marchers, marched peacefully in Washington, demanding the reversal of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, essentially on demand, in the United States.

Acknowledging the changes that have taken place in the lives of everyone, especially teachers and students as they have navigated online learning this past year, Bishop Foys reminded students that not everything has changed.

“Our faith is one of those things and the right to life is another,” he said. “The right to be born and the right to live, that has not changed — at least it should not. For the last 48 years people have been battling for the right to life — for the right to be born.”

Bishop Foys shared a 20-year-old commentary about a news article describing the slaughter of 30 range horses. In the article, investigators rightly expressed shock and outrage at the killing of the innocent animals. He then shared some statistics. Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, over 60 million babies have been killed in the womb in the United States. For every three children born, one child is aborted.

“The names of those 60 million children would fill the Veterans Memorial Wall over 1,400 times,” Bishop Foys said. “Where is the national outpouring of shock, of anger, for these slaughtered innocents in the womb?”

Referencing the Gospel reading from St. Luke, Bishop Foys said that the apostles were arguing over who would be first in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus called over a child, who in those times had no stature or standing or rights.

“Jesus told his apostles, unless you become like one of these — a precious child — you won’t even enter the kingdom of God,” Bishop Foys said. “Jesus held children in great esteem; not because they were smart or had any talent or special degrees or special heritage, but because they were innocent. They had not yet been corrupted by the values, or lack thereof, of the world. What do we do in our country? We legalize their death.”

The pandemic, Bishop Foys said, has offered a unique time for everyone to reflect and prioritize what and who is most important in life.

“Abortion of course has to be first,” he said. “How can we talk about priorities and what is most important if we snuff out life itself? That is why it must be our priority. God gives us life and God decides when to take it back. God is the creator.”

Bishop Foys said that the pandemic, itself, is another pro-life issue. People are being asked to do simple things — wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, not having non-essential meetings and groups and events, not traveling — in order to protect themselves and others — in order to protect life, most often the elderly and those with frail health.

“Being pro-life is more than just being against abortion, it is doing something positive to respect life at all its stages,” Bishop Foys said. “So we gather here, in this magnificent church, to pray for an end to the scourge of abortion, but also to pray for the courage to protect life at every stage of life, to do those things that protect the life of everyone. We pray that almighty God will have mercy on us and on all those who have led us to this dreadful time in our country, where for nearly a half century now, 60 million innocent lives have been snuffed out. If a life of a baby in his mother’s womb is not precious to us, then no life is.”