After 19 years of faithful service, Bishop Foys to retire; announces Father John Iffert has been appointed next bishop

Laura Keener, Editor.

Bishop-elect John Iffert

The Diocese of Covington Curia was buzzing with excitement, July 13, as Bishop Roger Foys announced that, after 342 days, Pope Francis has accepted his letter of resignation and has appointed as the diocese’s 11th bishop Father John C. Iffert, a priest of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois. Bishop-elect Iffert currently serves as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Belleville.

The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on July 13, 2021, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Additionally, Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Foys apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Covington to oversee its operations until the installation of Bishop-elect Iffert. The consecration and installation is scheduled for Sept. 30, 3 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington.

Last year, on July 27, 2020, Bishop Foys celebrated his 75th birthday — the retire-

ment age of bishops — and, as required, submitted his letter of resignation to the Holy Father. In his 19 years as Bishop of Covington, Bishop Foys has ordained 42 priests for the Diocese of Covington and has revitalized Covington’s Cathedral Square. He has been a faithful

and resolute proponent of Catholic school education, especially for vulnerable families in the urban core.

“It is with gratitude to Almighty God that I welcome Very Rev. John C. Iffert as my successor as the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Covington,” said Bishop Foys. “I am grateful also to our Holy Father Pope Francis for providing for the pastoral care of our diocese by this appointment. Bishop-elect Iffert brings a wealth of pastoral and administrative experience to his episcopal ministry. He comes well-prepared to provide for the needs of our diocese as a pastor with the heart of a shepherd.”

Father Iffert was born Nov. 23, 1967. He received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois (1988). He attended Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Il., where he earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1996 and a Master of Divinity in 1997. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Belleville on June 7, 1997.

Bishop-elect Iffert’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at St. Peter Cathedral in Belleville (1997-2000); administrator and pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Columbia (2000-2003). During that time, he served as a member of the diocesan personnel board, Defender of the Bond for the Tribunal, Spiritual Moderator for both the Belleville deanery CYO and the Diocesan Teens Encounter Christ movement. In August 2003, he entered the novitiate of the Order of Preachers, Province of St. Albert the Great, USA (Dominican, Central Province). He professed simple vows as a Dominican in 2004 which he renewed in 2006. From 2007-2008, he served as parochial vicar of St. Thomas Catholic Center at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Father Iffert left the Dominicans in 2008 and returned to the Diocese of Belleville.

Father Iffert has served as administrator of St. Mary Parish in Mount Vernon (2008-2010); administrator of St. Theresa Parish in Salem and at St. Elizabeth in Kinmundy (2009-2010); pastor of St. Mary Parish (2010-2020); and pastor of St. Barbara Parish in Scheller (2014-2020). He has served as vicar forane of the North Central Vicarate (2013-2020); diocesan co-vicar for priests (2014-2020); member of the Diocesan Finance Council (2010-present); and as a member of the College of Consultors (2016-present). Since 2020, Father Iffert has served as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Belleville, and since January 2021 he has served as pastor of St. Stephen in Caseyville.

“Bishop-elect Iffert has been an excellent priest and a dedicated pastor, and he is widely respected in our diocese,” said Bishop McGovern, Diocese of Belleville. “With his strong faith and many talents, I believe Bishop-elect Iffert will be an excellent shepherd for the people of Northern Kentucky.”

At a press conference, July 13 at Bishop Howard Memorial Auditorium at the Diocese of Covington Curia building, Bishop Foys introduced Bishop-elect Iffert to the Curia staff and the local community. Also attending the press conference were Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archdiocese of Louisville; Bishop William Medley, Diocese of Owensboro; and Bishop John Stowe, Diocese of Lexington.

“This is an announcement we have been waiting for a long time,” said Bishop Foys acknowledging that together he and the staff have been waiting almost a year for the Holy Father to accept his retirement.

Reflecting on his thoughts after Archbishop Pierre

called with the news as he was about to call to congratulate Bishop-elect Iffert, Bishop Foys said, “I felt sort of like John the Baptist, when he was waiting, like everyone else, for the Messiah who would set him free. I was reminded of Matthew, chapter 11, verse 3, ‘Are you who is to come or do we have to wait for another?’ Well, he is the one who is to come,” Bishop Foys said to the laughter of the staff.

“Knowing Father Iffert these last several days, I am confident that he will make a wonderful shepherd — he is a pastor with the heart of a shepherd,” Bishop Foys said. “I know that you, along with me, will not only welcome him but also pledge him our support and most importantly our prayers as he begins to take the reins of the diocese.”

At the press conference, Bishop-elect Iffert received a standing ovation as he approached the podium to address the staff and people of the Diocese of Covington.

“I am astounded and deeply grateful that Pope Francis has elected me to serve as the 11th Bishop of Covington, Kentucky, and called me to share in apostolic ministry,” Bishop-elect Iffert said. “I thank the Holy Father with all my heart for this election and call. I am inspired by his vision of a Church so deeply rooted in relationship with Christ that we accompany the outcast, tend the wounded, mourn with the brokenhearted, rejoice and give thanks in every

circumstance, and so carry out Jesus’ mission of evangelization. It is with joy that I dedicate myself anew to this happy labor, now with you in the Diocese of Covington.”

Bishop-elect Iffert praised and thanked Bishop Foys for his 19 years as shepherd of the Diocese of Covington.

“I am also grateful to Bishop Roger Foys. For 19 years he has served the people of the Diocese of Covington faithfully, diligently, and with a pastor’s heart for those who are hurting,” he said. “Since my election, he has been most

welcoming and gracious — a true Christian gentlemen. I look forward to the opportunity to know Bishop Foys, to be his brother bishop and friend in Christ.”

Bishop-elect Iffert gave heartfelt and tender words of gratitude to his parents, John and Mary Iffert, and his two sisters, Kim and Kathy, six nieces and nephews and 14 great nieces and nephews.

“The only lottery in this world that counts is the family that you are born into, and I am a winner in that lottery. I am most grateful,” Bishop-elect Iffert said.

Bishop-elect Iffert indicated that he has only three agenda items as he comes to lead the Diocese of Covington — to get to know its priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful, to invite young men to consider priestly vocations and to beg for prayers.

“To the priests, deacons, lay faithful of the Diocese of Covington, I can’t wait to get to know you and pray with you,” he said. “From the moment that I learned that I would be the bishop-elect, I have been praying for you. Every time I pause and turn toward God you are the people who come to my mind the most. My agenda as I come to the Diocese of Covington is just that, to get to know you. I want to visit with you in our parishes and schools, to celebrate Mass with you, to hear from you why you love our faith and what burdens you carry … You, and being Church with you, are the stuff of my hopes, prayers and dreams these days. Please — once I am consecrated and on the ground here in Covington — invite me. I want to be asked.”

About priestly vocations, Bishop-elect Iffert made a plea to the young men of the diocese.

“I want to take this moment to invite every active, prayerful, Catholic young man to spend some significant time — maybe six months — learning about the life of a priest and discerning whether God might be calling you to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. … Let me witness to you today, this is a joyful and fulfilling life in the midst of loving and dedicated people in community. If God is offering you life as a priest or religious, you do not want to miss this. It is an adventure and it is a joy. So please, please every Catholic young man consider life as a priest and if God is calling you.”

Bishop-elect Iffert said he is begging the people of the diocese to pray for him, as he is praying for them, sharing a prayer he has prayed most every day of his life since his confirmation when he was 12 years old.

“There is a little prayer that I have always attributed to my confirmation patron, St. Isaac Jogues. I have moved into that prayer, stretched it a bit, and made it my own. I offer it this way: ‘Wherever I go from here, Lord, let me be strong in faith and poor in spirit. Make me a man after your own heart.’ I have always prayed it for myself, my parishioners, my coworkers, my bishop, our pope and now I will pray it for the people of the Diocese of Covington.

“The Rite of Ordination and Installation of a Bishop is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, at 3 p.m., in the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington. At that hour, please pray that prayer with me and for me. Pray that I can be strong when strength is needed and weak when I am tempted to be full of myself. Know that I will be carrying you in my heart that day, and asking God to make us all men and women after his own heart.”

Archbishop Kurtz congratulated both Bishop Foys and Bishop-elect Iffert.

“It is with great joy that I welcome the news that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has appointed Father John Iffert as the next bishop of the Diocese of Covington. He is known to have a great pastoral heart as well as excellent pastoral experience in his more than two decades of service in the Diocese of Belleville,” said Archbishop Kurtz. “Bishop-elect

Iffert is succeeding my friend and brother bishop, Bishop Roger Foys. Bishop Foys has served Northern Kentucky with great distinction, and I join with the bishops of the province in thanking him for his leadership and collaboration. The bishops of the Province of Louisville have a great fraternity and together we welcome Bishop-elect Iffert. We promise him and Bishop Foys our prayerful support.”

The 2021–22 school year opens to in-person instruction with protocols and prayer

Laura Keener, Editor.

Kendra McGuire, superintendent of Schools

Before the last school bell rang, closing the 2020–21 school year, teachers, parents and even news reporters were already asking, “What are the COVID-19 protocols going to be for next year?”
It has taken awhile for the necessary information to come forward so that Kendra McGuire, superintendent of Schools and the diocesan COVID Task Force could answer that question. First, in May, nobody could readily predict how, in August, the virus might be moving in communities. Also, information on how effective vaccines would be, especially against variants of the virus, was just beginning to be collected and continues to develop. Most importantly, guidance from the Kentucky Department of Health (KDH) and the Northern Kentucky Health Department (NKHD) had not yet been released for the upcoming school year.
But now August is upon us, schools are about to open and protocols have been developed. In a letter to parents, that was emailed to principals July 27, Mrs. McGuire released the COVID-19 Return to School Requirements 2021–2022. These protocols were developed based on the guidance released July 14 from the KDH and after communication with the NKHD.
“We have put in place safety protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as this virus continues to be present in our local community,” Mrs. McGuire said in the letter. “All our school operations and activities will return to normal with these safety protocols in place.”
The new protocols also incorporate the diocese’s own experience from providing in-person instruction throughout the entire school year last year — when COVID cases were high, vaccines were a hope and the entire world was learning together how to maintain those things in life which are a priority while mitigating the spread of the virus.
“While we are again starting the year with some uncertainties, we remain confident with what we have learned so far in mitigating the spread of the virus,” Mrs. McGuire said.
Highlights from this year’s protocols include:
— Non-traditional instruction or remote learning will only be available to students that are in quarantine. All other students will return to the classroom for in-person instruction.
“What we learned last year is that the best we can do virtually is not really good enough; it’s not the best we could offer,” Mrs. McGuire said in an interview about the 2020–2021 school year. “So the goal had to be getting the students in school; it had to be in person. School is so much more than just studying by yourself and reading a book or completing a paper online — there’s so much more in the interactions in school, which are all part of that big educational piece.”
— Masks will be optional, except on buses where the state of Kentucky requires masks to be worn. Those who choose to wear a mask will be supported and encouraged to do so.
— Families are encouraged to discuss with their doctor if getting the COVID-19 vaccine is best for them and their child(ren); the COVID-19 vaccine will not be required for students, faculty or staff.
It’s important to note that, in collaborating with St. Elizabeth Healthcare in February 2021, it is estimated that over 90 percent of the administration, faculty and staff in diocesan schools are fully vaccinated. Additionally, unlike unvaccinated persons, vaccinated persons are not required to quarantine when exposed to the virus and are determined to be a close contact if they are symptom-free.
— Three-feet spacing between students is recommended in classrooms and the cafeteria.
— High schools and high school athletes must follow the KHSAA guidelines.
— Employees, students and volunteers should complete a daily personal health assessment before leaving for school each day. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should not come to school and should contact their doctor.
“As parents, your support will be one of the most important factors in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses in our schools,” Mrs. McGuire said in the letter to parents. “If your child is exhibiting illness symptoms, you must keep them home and work with your doctor to determine what the illness is and when it will be safe to return to school.”
Mrs. McGuire said that schools will continue to track COVID-19 cases and principals will report cases to the diocese. Right now, the NKHD and KDH are not requiring that schools or the diocese report individual cases. Cases of five or more that are linked by interaction or an event are required to be reported to the NKHD.
“This will help us to determine whether or not additional measures need to be taken to further prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Mrs. McGuire. “In order to do this, parents must report COVID-19 positive cases to the school immediately.”
A large part of last year’s success in keeping children in school while also mitigating the spread of the virus can be attributed to the overwhelming cooperation of parents, even when it meant that their child would miss out on important personal milestones.
“Throughout the 2020–21 school year, we made changes to procedures based on our data,” Mrs. McGuire said. “We will continue to monitor this again and make changes as necessary to maintain inperson learning.”
As the school year begins, “In all things we place our trust in God,” Mrs. McGuire said. “I ask you to pray for another successful school year and ask God’s protection for the health and safety of our students, staff, families and volunteers who will be part of our school communities this year.”
Mrs. McGuire’s letter and the COVID-19 Return to School Requirements 2021–2022 School Year are available online at www.covdio.org.

Enrichment Teacher/STREAM Co-Teacher – Blessed Sacrament School

Blessed Sacrament School is seeking a full-time Enrichment teacher/STREAM co-teacher for the 2021 – 2022 school year. This individual will coordinate and teach our enrichment program for identified students.  This individual will also co-teach alongside a lead teacher in select grades for STREAM class.  Both of these curricula utilize critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and technology integration to help students foster skills in the following areas; leadership and decision making, asking and answering challenging questions, solving real-world problems, effective and high-quality research, and self-motivated ongoing learning.  Strong feedback, communication, and collaborative skills are essential for this position.  Interested candidates should send their résumé to Dan Steffen at [email protected].

Band Teacher/Director (Part-Time) – St. Patrick School – Maysville

St. Patrick School in Maysville is looking for a part-time Band Teacher/Director for the 2021-22 school year. The successful teacher will develop students’ technique for playing brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments, design and implement a wide variety of appropriate instructional activities for students of varying abilities and talents, and evaluate student achievement. The position involves approximately 12 hours of teaching each week. Interested candidates should send a cover letter, resume and any references to Father Andrew Young:  [email protected]

School Cafeteria Staff – St. Timothy School

St. Timothy School’s cafeteria is in need of a staff member for five hours per day, Monday through Friday during the school year. Duties include food preparation, serving, daily cleanup, helping with deliveries, and other tasks as needed. Candidates may contact Jackie Kaiser at [email protected], or call 859-392-1536.

Student Recruitment Coordinator (Part-Time) – St. Henry District High School and Feeder Schools

St. Henry District High School and its feeder schools (Immaculate Heart of Mary; Mary, Queen of Heaven; St. Henry; St. Paul; St. Timothy) are looking for a Student Recruitment Coordinator. The purpose of this position is to build the brand of St. Henry District High School within its feeder schools’ community. For each school the recruitment coordinator will plan events throughout the year, send mailings, contact potential families, build a base of supporters and be an advocate for the schools.

We are looking for someone with recruiting and relationship building experience, strong organizational skills, experience backwards planning with a specific goal in mind and experience event planning.

The position is part-time beginning September 7, 2021.

Interested candidates should send a resume, 5 references and an interest letter to Kelly Spradling at St. Henry Elementary: [email protected].

Afterschool Care Program Staff – Mary, Queen of Heaven

Mary, Queen of Heaven Afterschool Care Program is seeking 3 childcare team members to join our amazing program.

  • Must be 18 years or older, have reliable transportation, and have been Virtus trained.
  • Work involves sitting to do homework or at the front desk, as well as standing, walking, and running during playtime.
  • You will supervise children in grades K-8 with homework, snacks, and at play.
  • Looking for someone to be a positive role model for the students and help to maintain a safe environment for our students.
  • Clean and maintain the Aftercare area, help in keeping attendance, communicate with parents, students, and staff.
  • Administer first aid when needed.
  • Position is Monday through Friday 2:30 p.m.-.6:00 p.m. while school is in session.

If interested in this position, please send an email that includes your contact information and two references to the MQH After School Care Director, Jennifer Jett  –  [email protected]

 

Custodian (Part-Time) – Sts. Peter and Paul School

Sts. Peter and Paul is looking for a school custodian.  This is a part-time position that includes routine cleaning and simple maintenance tasks. Hours of work would be in the afternoon. Applicants must pass a background check and have or obtain a Virtus certificate. Interested candidates may contact Father Jacob at 859-635-2924 or Micki Humphreys at [email protected].

Mental Health & Pregnancy/Adoption Counselor – Catholic Charities

The Diocese of Covington’s Catholic Charities ministry is seeking to hire a Counselor for our Mental Health and Pregnancy/Adoption Programs. The position is 40 hours per week, including some evening hours. This staff person performs all the duties of a licensed counselor for our general counseling practice serving individuals and families, with a partial emphasis on pregnancy and adoption. Major areas of responsibility include providing assessment, case management, diagnoses, and therapy to children, families, and adults within the outpatient program; and facilitating groups, and providing services to pregnant clients, their partners, and/or their families, including counseling, case management, parenting support, and foster care coordination and supervision. The successful candidate will be an actively-practicing Roman Catholic individual with a Master’s degree in Social Work or a related field, and experience with diverse populations of families, couples, children, and adults. We prefer LCSW or LPCC licensure, or eligibility within two years. Qualified individuals should submit a letter of interest along with a detailed resume or C-V, including compensation history and at least 3 references with contact email addresses, by email or by fax to Stephen Koplyay, SPHR at [email protected], fax 859-392-1589.

 

Bishop Foys encourages families to evangelize by living a holy life inspired and modeled after the Holy Family

(from left) Father Ryan Maher, vicar general and Cathedral rector and Father Daniel Schomaker, vicar general, during the recessional at the Mass for the Year of the Family.

Laura Keener, Editor.

The recognition of the Year of the Family — a year pronounced by Pope Francis for the Church to focus on the family and conjugal love — was initiated in the Diocese of Covington July 10 as Bishop Roger Foys celebrated a special Year of the Family Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. The diocesan Office of Catechesis and Evangelization is spearheading the efforts for the faithful of the diocese to pray, learn and serve as a family, drawing families closer to each other and to Christ.

Bishop Foys began his homily by inviting those present to think about their childhood and the types of memories their childhood brings.

“I always encourage parents to make good memories for and with your children,” Bishop Foys said, “because when our parents are gone, that’s all we have left.”

“I have happy memories and I hope that your children will have happy memories of their childhood and their growing up and that they will learn from you what really and truly matters,” he said.

Bishop Foys encouraged parents, saying that when he was a pastor it was not uncommon for newly engaged couples to come to him seeking to be married in the Church, even though they had not been practicing the faith for some time. Often, these couples would return to the practice of their faith.

“Even if you might not think that you’re making any difference, trust me, you will make a difference,” he said.

Drawing extensively from Pope Francis’ Angelus address on the Feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 27, 2020, Bishop Foys highlighted the importance of family and how the Holy Family — Jesus, Mary and Joseph — are both a model and inspiration for family life.

“It is good to reflect on the fact that the Son of God wanted to be in need of the warmth of a family, like all children. Precisely for this reason, because it is Jesus’ family, the family of Nazareth is the model family, in which all families of the world can find their sure point of reference and sure inspiration.” Bishop Foys said quoting Pope Francis.

“Children want to belong, they want to be part of something,” Bishop Foys said.

Quoting Pope Francis again, Bishop Foys said, “In imitation of the Holy Family, we are called to rediscover the educational value of the family unit: it requires being founded on the love that always regenerates relationships, opening up horizons of hope.”

“Founded on love — there’s the secret,” Bishop Foys said. “Love can endure anything. It can endure any hardship, any struggle, any difficulty, any injury — within the family, love can conquer any of that.”

At the Angelus address Pope Francis said, “Within the family one can experience sincere communion when it is a house of prayer, when affections are serious, profound, pure, when forgiveness prevails over discord, when the daily harshness of life is softened by mutual tenderness and serene adherence to God’s will. In this way, the family opens itself up to the joy that God gives to all those who know how to give joyfully.”

Bishop Foys said that it breaks his heart to see families divided; to see families at a loved one’s funeral sitting on separate sides of the church because they are not speaking.

“Forgiveness over discord,” Bishop Foys said. “Home should be the place where a son or daughter can come no matter what. The Lord is the one to whom we can come no matter what. The same should be said of the home where the mother and father reflect God’s love, God’s joy, God’s forgiveness.”

Pope Francis acknowledged that it is true that all families quarrel, “but,” he cautioned, “before the end of the day, make peace. And do you know why? Because a cold war, day after day, is extremely dangerous. It does not help.”

Bishop Foys said that the Holy Father offers three very important phrases that all families should hold dear and say to each other often – excuse me, thank you and sorry.

“Excuse me, so as not be intrusive in the life someone,” Bishop Foys said. “Thank you — so much service that we do for one another within the family — always say thank you. Gratitude is the life blood of the noble soul. How much do we take for granted from our families, especially our parents?”

And the hardest one to say, Bishop Foys said, is “I am sorry.” Bishop Foys depicted a dramatic scene from the popular 1970s movie “Love Story” where, after a bitter quarrel, as the leading actor is about to apologize, his girlfriend places her finger on his lips and says the often quoted phrase, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

“Give me a break,” Bishop Foys said. “That’s boloney. Love means being able to say, ‘I am sorry,’ and knowing the beloved will be able to say, ‘I forgive you.’ That’s true love. Being able to say I am sorry, to humble oneself enough — to trust the other enough — to say, ‘I am sorry;’ with the knowledge that the love is so deep from the other — that it is from God — that we will be forgiven.”

Bishop Foys acknowledged that the family and family life is being threatened in the world and in our country — but Christians are not to be discouraged, instead they should have hope and to evangelize the world by living a holy, Christian family life.

“Destroy the family and you destroy a civilization,” Bishop Foys said. “Build up a family in faith and in love and in joy and in trust and you have a strong family, a strong community, a strong city, a strong country, a strong world.

“Today we ask God’s blessings on all families, especially those that are having difficulty — those that are struggling — we ask that they turn to the Lord and find their peace, find their solace, find their joy in the Lord. Families are precious to the Lord, or the Lord God would not have sent his Son to be born into a family. Jesus came to save us from our sins and was born in a family so that he, in his humanity, could experience the love of a mother and a father in a family.”

The Office of Catechesis and Evangelization invites families to visit frequently a newly created webpage www.covdio.org/family. There they will find helpful resources to learn, pray and serve during this Year of the Family.