‘Maes:107 Years’—an exhibit honoring the Diocese of Covington’s third bishop

Father Jordan Hainsey, Messenger Contributor

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 marks 107 years since the passing of Bishop Camillus Paul Maes, the longest-serving Bishop of Covington (1885-1915.) To commemorate this anniversary, St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption is hosting a temporary exhibit in the Maes Crypt Chapel entitled “Maes: 107 Years.” Drawn from the Cathedral Collection, the exhibit brings together vesture and liturgical objects associated with Bishop Maes.

Born in Belgium on March 13, 1846 in the old Flemish city of Courtrai, Maes was orphaned at age 12 and entered the seminary in 1865. Ordained in Louvain, Belgium on Dec. 19, 1868 and desiring to become a missionary in America, he came to the Diocese of Detroit in 1869 and served there for 16 years before being appointed Bishop of Covington in 1885 by Pope St. Leo XIII.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is a cope from the French province of Porcelette made in 1791 which would have been worn by Bishop Maes for Cathedral liturgies. Made of handwoven silk damask with gilt thread, the cope predates the founding of the diocese by 62 years. While it may have been brought to the United States in the early 19th century, it is possible that it was brought to Covington by Bishop Maes after one of his many trips to Europe where he acquired vestments for the newly expanding Covington diocese. At a time when cloth was expensive, the exquisite craftsmanship and labor involved in making the cope would have set it apart for use at the Cathedral’s most solemn liturgies — liturgies like Christmas, Easter, and Corpus Christi. As part of the Cathedral Collection and given its age, as well as the possibility of predating Bishop Maes, it may have been worn by Bishops Carrell and Toebbe before it was retired because of its delicate condition. A precious miter once used by Covington’s seventh Bishop, Richard H. Ackerman, compliments the cope and helps to show how it was worn in relation to other vesture at a pontifical ceremony.

A crozier used by Bishop Maes is also on view. While the crozier has long been held in the Cathedral Collection, its history was previously unknown until it was clearly identified in a photograph of the cornerstone laying at St. Patrick Church, Maysville, in 1903. In the photograph, Bishop Maes is shown presiding over the ceremony with the same crozier.

Other items on view were retained from the translation of Bishop Maes’ remains from St. Mary’s Cemetery to the Cathedral in 2019. While water had permeated the grave, numerous items survived. These include: a pontifical amethyst ring, the name plate from the top of the coffin, and the casket’s six handlebars with accompanying wood-pole fragments.

Together, items from Bishop Maes’ life and death have been brought together to bring Covington’s saintly bishop back to life for the faithful today.

As bishop, he was a striking figure — tall, finely built, of florid complexion and black curling hair. He spoke seven languages fluently and possessed a perfect command of English, enhanced only by a slight Belgian accent. He loved young people and had a special affection for children — especially orphans.

When he first arrived in Covington, he found the old St. Mary’s Cathedral in a state of disrepair and his growing flock in need of a new house of worship. He began the present Cathedral in April 1894, completing the main struc- ture in 1901 and the façade in 1910. This magnificent and timeless gothic Cathedral Basilica stands as a testament to the vision of a Bishop who wished to give the people of Covington a monument of the love of Christ for souls. In his own words, “indeed, the message of the Cathedral is the message of Christ himself.”

When Camillus Paul Maes died on 11 May 1915, the sound of tolling church bells echoed across every city and town in Northern Kentucky, bidding farewell to the man who gave the people a gothic masterpiece that would speak to them for centuries to come.

The exhibit “Maes: 107 Years” runs May 7–31, 2022 and is on view in the Maes Crypt Chapel at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. For Cathedral hours, visit covcathedral.com.

Photos courtesy Father Jordan Hainsey


Father Raymond Enzweiler awarded at Josephinum fundraising dinner

Maura Baker, Staff Writer.

The Good Shepherd Dinner is the Pontifical College Josephinum’s signature fundraising event, with $130,000 raised in support of the college this year alone. The dinner, held this year on the 25th of April, was attended by over 200 guests in support of the Josephinum, including honored guest His Excellency, The Most Rev. Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States and chancel- lor of the Josephinum.

Of the awards granted at the dinner, the first, known as the Pope Leo XIII award was presented to John Erwin, a parishioner of St. Paul Parish, Westerville, Oh., for his service in support of priestly vocations. Also during the dinner, Mr. Erwin was appointed a Knight of The Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great by Archbishop Pierre — a knighthood of the Holy See estab- lished in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI.

The dinner’s namesake award, the Good Shepherd Award, was awarded to Father Raymond Enzweiler, resident priest of St. Thomas Parish, Ft. Thomas, Ky., and faculty of Thomas More University. Father Enzweiler was recognized for his contributions to the seminary and his dedication to Catholic higher education, having served the Josephinum as faculty from 2011–2019, and as Vice Rector and dean, 2016–2019.

Father Steven Beseau, rector and president of the Josephinum, fondly regards Father Enzweiler’s service to the Josephinum and the Church, saying, “he never gave up his most important job, that of being a shepherd for

Christ’s sheep. He is fully present to those who need him, and helps to guide them closer to Christ and the peace, love, and joy our faith offers.”

Thomas More University breaks ground for new academic center

Maura Baker, Staff Writer.

In 2021, Thomas More University was able to celebrate its 100th year annniversary since its humble roots as Villa Madonna College in 1921. The campus has moved, changed, and grown considerably since then, with plans to expand its campus and community further in celebration of Thomas More’s bicentennial. A fundraising campaign starting in September of 2021 secured $15 million in gifts and donations, with an additional $6 million since the public launch. This commendable total of $21 million dollars has been secured to fund the university’s bicentennial signature project- a brand new academic center. A ground-breaking ceremony was held for the construction of this new building on the 23rd of April, with speeches from President Chillo and chairs of the bicentennial campaign, followed by the ceremonial shoveling of soil in the space where the new building will be constructed.

The 34,000 square feet academic center will be built right across from the Mary Seat of Wisdom chapel, with facilities to accommodate and inspire both a growing campus and community. Among these facilities is a 375-seat auditorium named for Wilbert L. Ziegler, class of 1953, and honorary chair of the capital campaign committee. Dr. Joseph L. Chillo, president of Thomas More University, states that the auditorium will “allow (Thomas More University) to become a center of community, certainly for our folks here in the city.”

Other aspects of the new academic center include the Brenda Hoskin Memorial Reflection Gardens, which will be home to a 9-foot tall bronze statue of the university’s patron saint, St. Thomas More and the Dr. Anthony ’65 & Geraldine ’66 Zembrodt Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, & Innovation. The Zembrodt Center aims to achieve Thomas More University’s goal to become an “innovation destination” for inspiring students that will be moving to the new center. The Zembrodt Center will also serve as a space for the University’s upcoming scholarship program, which will recognize the achievements of high school students with potential in entrepreneurship and innovation.

The importance of promoting Catholic education will also be a key aspect of the academic center, with implementation of the Center for Faith, Mission, and Catholic Education and the William T. Robinson, the Third Institute for Religious Liberty. President Chillo stresses the importance of positioning faith and values, and serving Catholic education, as the forefront of this new building, regarding the university’s continual dedication to Catholic education and identity “a critical element as (Thomas More University) looks to their second century.”

A contractor for the construction project will be selected at the June Board of Trustees meeting, and the academic center is projected to open Fall 2024.

‘Proclaiming the goodness and care of God to people of many lands’

At an all-school Mass at St. Augustine School, April 13, Father Daniel Schomaker, pastor, presented a check for over $1,200 to Notre Dame Sister Mary Margaret Droege. The funds were the proceeds of a Lenten Penny War held at St. Augustine School, Covington. In gratitude and recognition for the many years of devoted teaching at St. Augustine School by the Sisters of Notre Dame, the students chose to donate the proceeds from the Penny War to the Sisters of Notre Dame Uganda mission to support the educational needs there.

The St. Julie Mission in Uganda, East Africa, adds another chapter in the Sisters of Notre Dame’s story of proclaiming the goodness and care of God to people of many lands. The St. Julie Uganda mission began in 1990 when the African bishops sent out a request for the Sisters of Notre Dame. The Messenger sat down with some of the founding Uganda mission Sisters Mary Margaret Droege, Delrita Glaser, Joell Overman and Janet Stamm to learn their impressions on the thriving Uganda mission and the East Africa Sisters of Notre Dame religious community. Additionally, Sister Mary Margaret is the author of the book “Approaching Holy Ground: The First Twenty Years of the Sisters of Notre Dame Uganda Mission.”

“In 1990 we received the first request from the African Bishops and made our first official visit to Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique before going to Uganda about a year later,” said Sister Joell.

This was in response to Pope John Paul II’s request to religious orders to make more of a missionary effort. The primary request of the bishop in Uganda to the sisters was for help with the development of education. The sisters selected the area of Buseesa in the Ugandan Diocese to begin their mission work.

“It was a rural area … the public school there had parts of the walls missing, no desks and maybe two or three books for a 70- or 80- person class,” said Sister Mary Margaret.

Sister Janet said a “mud building was the government school,” which was located across the street from where the sisters would eventually develop their convent, church and schools.

The Sisters of Notre Dame from Covington traveled together with Sisters from their California province to begin the mission. Many children in the Buseesa area did not go to school and most people were living in mud huts. The sisters decided to build a school when they arrived in 1995. The sisters met the builders, architect, and contractor discussing every phase of the building plans. These building projects included a rectory for the priest, a convent for the sisters and the school. In 1998, three years after beginning this mission, the St. Julie Primary Boarding School was established.

“Looking back on this whole endeavor, it is so obvious that God and loving providence was directing this whole thing,” Sister Janet said, reflecting on the events that took place on their original mission trip to Buseesa.

The sisters faced many challenges and obstacles during the first three years as missionaries, but, Sister Mary Margaret said, “each time there were obstacles, their needs were met and these obstacles became less important.”

Some of these obstacles included unfinished buildings, sisters dealing with sickness, no garden for food, lack of clean and fresh water and insufficient medical supplies. The sisters’ faith in God’s providence and goodness helped them overcome these challenges.

While the sisters developed wonderful facilities for the St. Julie mission, the main focus was education. Education was the key factor in creating opportunities for young children. The sisters were driven by faith to carry out their mission work. Having the ability to celebrate the Eucharist was something that Sister Janet said, “was inspiring.”

Sister Mary Margaret said it was very encouraging to see how many parents wanted education for their children. “They were willing to make any sacrifice … and sometimes when they would come, they would tell us what sacrifice they had made to help pay any part of the fees for the school.”

Because of the school’s remote location, “every student had to be a boarder, it was not come and go back home every night,” Sister Delrita said.

Which was a leap of faith for many parents leaving their children with these, “white women, because many parents had never seen someone like us before,” said Sister Janet.

The primary school started with P3, pre-school age three, and went up to seventh grade. The sisters said it was eye opening to see some of the cultural differences in the students during their school day.

For example, the sisters said that many of the students had no idea what to do at recess, because they had always worked, helping their families at home and never had the opportunity to play before. The sisters also taught the students English, while trying to learn the local tribal language, which was only spoken orally and had no written translations at the time.

Sister Mary Margaret said the students did learn English very fast. English is the official language of Uganda and its capital city of Kampala. Sister Janet said, “without English, there is virtually no way out of poverty.”

The sisters said it has been a blessing to see the fruits of their work, now some of their very first students are finishing Universities, several students have joined the priesthood, other students are now surgeons, nurses, and more.

“The goal that we set for our school was to train for Catholic leadership, so that someday when they finish their education and come back, they can lift up their area and be the leaders,” Sister Janet said.

Today St. Julie’s Mission has two nursery schools for ages three to five with over 100 students, a high school with students scoring in the top 20 of the 300 local schools, the original primary schools and a convent that is now run by over 70 African Sisters of Notre Dame. While the original sisters have not returned for missionary work, they are still in regular contact with the sisters in Uganda and send funds from the support of our local parishes here in the Diocese of Covington.

For information on the Uganda mission visit www.sndusa.org. The book, “Approaching Holy Ground,” is available on Amazon.