Transitional diaconate ordination of A.J. Gedney

By the laying on of hands and through the power of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Roger Foys ordained A.J. Gedney a deacon for the Diocese of Covington.

Laura Keener, Editor.

Compared to last year’s ordinations with no congregation, the reduced capacity congregation at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, March 28, felt like a full house as Bishop Roger Foys ordained Alexander (A.J.) Gedney to the transitional diaconate.

Family and friends, including educators from Deacon Gedney’s alma mater, St. Henry District High School, showed their prayerful support as he made the diaconate promises of celibacy, prayer and obedience. Deacon Gedney is a seminarian for the Diocese of Covington and his diaconate ordination is a step on his formation to the priesthood.

In his homily, Bishop Foys reminded the congregation that even during those early days of the pandemic, when the public celebration of the Mass was suspended — the life of the Church continued.

“We still celebrated Mass and live-streamed it on the internet. We still celebrated the Eucharist. We still baptize, we still anoint people who are near death, couples still get married, I still confirm and administer the sacrament of confirmation and I still ordain,” Bishop Foys said. “The essence of our faith and the sacramental life of the Church has not changed; that should give us great comfort and consolation, that there is something in our life that does not change, that is constant upon which we can rely.”

The readings for today’s ordination Mass, Bishop Foys said, were chosen specifically for the celebration. The first reading is from the book of the prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 61:1–3)

“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me … to bring glad tidings to the lowly and to heal the broken hearted.’ The minister of God’s word is to bring glad tidings and to heal the brokenhearted,” Bishop Foys said.

The second reading, from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 4:1–7), instructs God’s ministers not to be discouraged.

“During this year there was more than enough discouragement to go around, but Paul says this ministry is given to us through the mercy of God and so we are not discouraged,” said Bishop Foys. “The ministry we have, the ministry into which A.J. will be ordained today, is given to us through the mercy of God, he is its author and therefore we are not to be discouraged. ‘For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord.’ That is key. Every minister indeed preaches Jesus Christ as Lord and master of us all, then the words he says are the words of the Lord.”

St. Paul also talks about the paradox of ministry, that “this treasure is held in earthen vessels.”

“Earthen vessels — I think that’s a wonderful image that Paul uses,” said Bishop Foys. “This treasure that we preach and teach in Jesus’ name … the Gospel message, the good news … we hold it in earthen vessels and so we must be so careful … it can shatter. We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, why? So that the surpassing power may be from God, not from us, it’s not about us … it’s all about Jesus and bringing the message of Jesus to his people.”

In the Gospel reading from St. Matthew, Jesus tells his apostles that they are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” (Matt 5:13–16)

“Then Jesus says, and this is very dear to me because it is the motto I chose, ‘your light must shine before others,’ he said, ‘that they might see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.’ Again, not for oneself, no, but so that others may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. It is all about giving the Lord the glory, giving the Lord the praise,” Bishop Foys said.

These readings, Bishop Foys said, offer good meditations for every ordained minister. “Today, it is for A. J. Gedney to thing about and to pray about.”

Bishop Foys ended his homily with words of congratulations and gratitude.

“We give thanks to God that A.J. heard the Lord’s call and then answered it … I can safely say that we are all here to pledge to you our prayers and our support, that you live day by day, year by year, decade by decade, the ministry entrusted to you.”

On the solemnity of St. Joseph, bishop encourages all to be ‘doers’ of God’s will

On the solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, Bishop Roger Foys incenses the newly erected St. Joseph altar at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. This statue of St. Joseph is significant to the Cathedral and the Diocese of Covington because it stood in the diocese’s first Cathedral, built by the diocese’s first bishop, Bishop George Carrell, S.J., in 1854.

Laura Keener, Editor.

This year’s solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, carried a particularly celebratory tone in the Diocese of Covington as the Year of St. Joseph begins to unfold like an Easter lily — a common symbol for the saint. With his apostolic letter “Patris corde” (With a Father’s Heart), Pope Francis declared Dec. 8, 2020 through Dec. 8, 2021 the Year of St. Joseph, in honor of the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s declaring St. Joseph patron of the Universal Church. Pope Pius IX also has a special tie to the diocese — he established the Diocese of Covington in 1853.

“St. Joseph is an interesting personage in our salvation history and in the establishment of the Church,” Bishop Roger Foys said in his homily during Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption on the solemnity.

St. Joseph is mentioned in only two of the four Gospels — Matthew and Luke — and not one word is recorded in all of Scriptures attributed to St. Joseph, Bishop Foys noted.

“Where do we find a place for St. Joseph? He wasn’t a prophet or a patriarch or an apostle or the Blessed Mother. Where is his place?” Bishop Foys asked.

To find the answer, Bishop Foys said, one needs to look at what Scripture says St. Joseph does.

“St. Joseph was, we are told, a just man, a humble man, a compassionate man and deeply religious man. He was obedient to God’s will for him,” said Bishop Foys, highlighting the three times that an angel instructed St. Joseph in his dreams to care for the Holy Family.

The first was to assure Joseph of Mary’s chastity, instructing him to take Mary and the baby she was carrying into his home. In a second dream, the angel instructs Joseph to take Mary and the baby Jesus and flee to Egypt to avoid the wrath of King Harrod. In the third dream, the angel assures Joseph that King Harrod has died and it is now safe to return to Nazareth. On all three occasions, Joseph does as he is instructed.

“Joseph is always in the background but he is there,” Bishop Foys said, “Two thousand years later we celebrate in a solemn way this man who was chosen to be the foster father of Jesus, who was chosen to care for the Holy Family, to look after their needs, to protect them.”

In addition to patron of the Universal Church, St. Joseph is also patron of many circumstances and causes. One of those titles, highlighted in a jeweled glass window in the Cathedral Basilica, is patron of a Happy Death.

“We have a window here with Mary and Jesus standing at his death bed. Joseph is therefore referred to as the patron of a Happy Death — to have died with Jesus and the Mother of God at his side,” Bishop Foys said.

In his apostolic letter, Pope Francis said that his desire to declare a year honoring St. Joseph grew during this time of pandemic. Bishop Foys read an excerpt from “Patris corde”: “My desire to do so increased during these months of pandemic, when we experienced, amid the crisis, how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others. They understood that no one is saved alone … How many people, daily, exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all. Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.”

“That’s how our Holy Father introduces this year of St. Joseph, a man who led a hidden life but who was so much a part of the lives of Mary and Jesus and who is so much a part of our life,” Bishop Foys said. “It also tells us that no one — no one — is insignificant … God gives each of us our own role to play in this world, in this Church, in our community. We don’t have to have our name up in lights, or be on the front cover of a tabloid or the lead story on a news show — no! St. Joseph led a hidden life, most of us will lead hidden lives — it is what we are called to do.

“Do – ahah!” exclaimed Bishop Foys. “Joseph … he wasn’t a talker, he was a doer. So we celebrate today the Solemnity of St. Joseph, we thank God for giving us the gift of St. Joseph who took care of the Blessed Mother and the Son of God and who takes care of us.”


Local sisters offer challenge to end hunger for Catholic Sisters Week

Laura Keener, Editor.
As part of Catholic Sisters Week, March 8 – 12, the Benedictine Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery, Notre Dame Sisters U.S.A. and Sisters of Divine Providence, Melbourne, are teaming up to bring awareness to food insecurity and a challenge to end hunger. They are inviting everyone to join them.
The three religious communities are challenging its members, parishes and friends to make a donation to end hunger and to share their generosity and support by posting on social media as a way to honor Catholic Sisters Week. The monetary donation can be made to any food bank, meal center, food pantry or organization that serves the hungry.
“We don’t want to spotlight any particular organization because we would then leave out so many others,” said Divine Providence Sister Barbara Rohe, provincial superior. “We just want to be aware of the great hunger and food insecurity that so many people in the world experience, but also in the U.S. Right now, the need seems overwhelming when you hear the news and see people in long lines to get food.”
While the sisters are not designating any particular organization, they are certainly supportive of the local service agencies and food pantries sisters are presently or formerly involved. Some of those include Catholic Charities, Diocese of Covington’s Parish Kitchen, Covington; Mary Rose Mission, Florence; Holy Spirit Outreach, Newport; and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Northern Kentucky.
This year, Governor Andy Beshear signed a proclamation declaring Jan. 28, 2021 “Hunger Free Day” in Kentucky. During the signing, he said 600,000 Kentuckians rely on food from charitable organizations. Additionally, he said that one in six Kentucky households with children experiences food insecurity. Kentucky also has the highest rate of food insecurity among adults ages 50 to 59.
“Food insecurity is more rampant than people would believe,” said Cindy Carris, director, Mary Rose Mission. “More and more people are living on the edge of food insecurity — maybe even people that you know.”
The Mary Rose Mission serves a hot dinner to anyone who shows up at its kitchen. Typically the Mission offers a sit down dinner but has transitioned to drive-thru service during the pandemic. Mrs. Carris said that it is good that the no-contact service has allowed them to continue its ministry but volunteers and guests are missing the social interaction. Guests are especially missing Benedictine Sister Andrea Collopy. Sister Andrea and two other Benedictine Sisters would regularly volunteer but had to suspend their activities when the pandemic struck. Sister Andrea was in charge of “working the exit” and would collect prayer intentions from the guests.
“Everybody loved her. There would be a line all the way through the dining room waiting to talk to her,” Mrs. Carris said. “It was such an honor to have the sisters here, their presence adds a holiness to the service that wouldn’t be there otherwise.”
As Karen Zengel, executive director, finished this year’s annual report for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Northern Kentucky, she noticed what she describes as “a modern day miracle.” In 2020, the Society provided $70,000 more in groceries than the previous year. The large spike was due to the first months of the pandemic and the lockdown. During that time people were uncertain about the economy and their personal income. Wisely, they began to hold on to any cash they had on hand for use to pay mortgages, rent and utilities and began seeking assistance for food.
“We had no idea how we were going to provide for the demand and God provided for us. It was terrible and awesome at the same time,” Mrs. Zengel said. “Our Vincentians are an awesome, committed group of people who just continued to answer the call when people reached out in need.”
Notre Dame Sister Judith Niewahner fills an integral role in the Society’s food outreach. She is the Conference Relations Manager and Food Pantry Manager, overseeing the Society’s 26 food pantries. Two pantries are operated by the diocesan council with stores located in Erlanger and Falmouth. A third SVDP Food Pantry is scheduled to open March 3 in Cold Spring. The other 24 food pantries are operated at parishes by parish conferences.
“Having Sister Judith on the team, I feel like she is this beacon of hope all the time,” said Mrs. Zengel. “She’s always up for a challenge and an exciting project. She figures out how to make things happen. She’s a shining example of how we can do all things with God.”
Sister Judith and Notre Dame Sister Michelyn Beckerich also volunteer at their parish food pantry, Holy Spirit Outreach, Newport. The small, neighborhood pantry served 1,400 people since last April, said Msgr. William Cleves, pastor. People can also get assistance for rent and utilities if they register at the center.
“Everyone who comes in gets multiple bags of groceries; we never ask for money or donations,” Msgr. Cleves said. Instead, the pantry receives food from government agencies and is funded by the generosity of Holy Spirit parishioners. In addition to monetary donations, each month, parishioners are asked to provide a specific, needed pantry item. This month it’s Mac ’n Cheese. During the summer, the parish cultivates a community garden located prominently on the space between the church and the parish convent.
“We have a very generous parish; we have a great little community here,” Msgr. Cleves said.
At the Parish Kitchen, Maria Meyer, manager, said that not only have they seen an increase in the number of guests — about 200 lunches per day this year, versus 150 lunches last year — but the demographics have also changed.
During the pandemic, the Parish Kitchen moved from its historic location on Pike Street to a more prominent location on Madison Ave., Covington. Before the move, the guests of the Parish Kitchen were predominately male. And while they still see many familiar faces, now, more women and families are being served. It’s difficult, Ms. Meyer said, to gauge whether or not the changes are due to the pandemic or the location change.
Since last March, due to the pandemic, the Parish Kitchen has had to transition from sit-down lunches to grab-n-go lunches. But neither challenge — the move nor the virus — has shut down the Parish Kitchen down.
“We haven’t missed a day and we have been able to keep our guests, volunteers and staff safe through the pandemic,” Ms. Meyer said.
Before the pandemic hit, Divine Providence Sister Joan Boberg regularly volunteered at the Parish Kitchen. In 1987, when she was executive director of Catholic Charities, Sister Joan began volunteering there once a month. In a 2018 interview for the “Breaking Bread” newsletter, Sister Joan said she began volunteering so that she could have hands on experience of the ministry; being with the guests was a part of the ministry she loved.
Ms. Meyer understands and misses that connection, noting that it is harder to connect with people when they are not being served in the dining room. She said, talking about life’s struggles and successes is a big part of what the Parish Kitchen offers its guests, noting the economic diversity of the people who experience hunger.
“Not all of our guests are homeless, some have a place to stay but still struggle to make ends meet. Some people have a job and some have a car but they are food insecure,” she said.
“The pandemic has left a cloud of depression because it’s harder to connect with people. At the Parish Kitchen see people first, not second. Hearing about what’s going on in their life is a big part of our mission that we are missing.”
To join the Catholic Sisters Week challenge to end hunger follow the Sisters on Facebook: CDPKentucky and SNDKy.

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.”

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.