Holy Week: encountering the God who stoops down in order to lift us up

By Father Ryan Stenger.

During the days of Holy Week, the Church offers us, every year, an opportunity to enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery — the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ — by which we have been saved from the power of sin and given a new life of grace.

In his Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul gives beautiful expression to this saving mystery that fills and encompasses these sacred days: “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:5-11)

Commenting on this passage, Pope St. John Paul II said that this Pauline hymn reflects how the Word of God takes on “the reality and condition of a servant … in order to enter the horizon of human history,” yet, “from below it ascends to the heights, from humiliation it rises towards exaltation” (General Audience, Aug. 4, 2004).

Throughout the liturgies of Holy Week, we encounter and accompany this God who empties himself in order to exalt us.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, when the Church recalls the Lord’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. This journey is quite literally an ascent in geographical terms, but also in the sense that the rightful King has come to be enthroned in the Holy City and to establish God’s Kingdom. And yet, he enters the city not with warhorses or chariots, but riding upon a donkey. His victory is not won by force or violence, but by sacrifice and love. He goes up to be enthroned as the true King of the Universe, yet his throne is the Cross and his power is revealed precisely in his self-abasement even to the point of death. The Collect from the Mass of Palm Sunday reminds us that it is only by following the Savior’s example of humility and patient suffering that we may merit a share in his Resurrection. Indeed, the children in the temple who cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” show us precisely that it is to the “little ones,” those who follow the Lord in humility and lowliness, that God’s Kingdom belongs. (Matt 21:15)

The Sacred Paschal Triduum, “the high point of the entire liturgical year,” begins on Holy Thursday with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 18). At this Mass, the Church commemorates the Lord’s institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. Just as Christ washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper, so, too, at this Mass does the priest wash the feet of his people. In this symbolic act, we are able to see the divine self-emptying that fills us with grace through the Eucharist and the priesthood. Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “[Christ] divests himself of his divine splendor; he, as it were, kneels down before us; he washes and dries our soiled feet, in order to make us fit to sit at table for God’s wedding feast” (Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 2, 57). Indeed, he continues even today to set aside his glory in order to draw close to us and give himself to us, choosing frail and flawed men to be the ministers of his grace and entering into our midst under the simple and humble appearance of bread and wine.

On Good Friday, the Church solemnly remembers the Lord’s passion and death upon the cross. During the liturgy on this day, the altars are stripped of all decoration, the tabernacles lie empty, and the priest enters in silence and prostrates himself before the altar. We enter with Christ into the complete abasement and degradation of the cross, in which is stripped away not only his divine splendor, but even the last vestiges of the human dignity he had taken to himself. And yet, within the same liturgy, the priest raises up the Cross for the veneration of the faithful, acclaiming it with the words, “Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.” We recognize that in Jesus’ loving obedience to the Father all the way to the end, creation has at last fulfilled its destiny in union with its creator and thus is exalted and redeemed upon the Cross in the complete self-offering of Christ.

On Holy Saturday, the Church waits in silence while the Lord lies buried in the tomb. But on that night, during the Easter Vigil, the darkness is pierced by the light of Christ, represented by the Paschal Candle, and the silence is broken by pealing bells and jubilant hymns of praise: the Exsultet, the Gloria, the Alleluia. From the suffering and humiliation of the Cross, and from the stillness and finality of the grave, Christ rises victorious over the powers of sin and death. But he does not return from his descent alone. He has assumed all of mankind to himself and he does not now leave aside his humanity, but rather raises it up with him to the heights of heaven, to a new life with God. During the Masses of Easter, we remember that the victory won by Christ through his sacrifice has opened up a new life for us, which we receive through the saving waters of baptism.

During Holy Week, we encounter again and again the God who stoops down to us in order to lift us up to himself. He empties himself to fill us; he strips away his glory to exalt us. He loves us to the end.

As we enter into these sacred days, let us follow his example of humility and allow his divine love to fill us and raise us up to a new life of holiness and grace.

Father Ryan L. Stenger, J.C.L., is pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Camp Springs.

Bishop Foys to ordain Jordan Hainsey to the transitional diaconate

By David Cooley.

Jordan Hainsey is preparing for his ordination to the diaconate, which will take place at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, April 13. In reality, Mr. Hainsey has been preparing for this for a long, long time. He is the only child of Raymond and Denise Hainsey and he says that his family has been the biggest influence on his journey toward priesthood.

“I grew up ELCA Lutheran, very active in the church, but there was always a tug at my heart toward the Catholic Church,” he said. “I wasn’t your normal kid. As a child, I dragged my parents to Fatima devotions at the local Franciscan Monastery, watched EWTN for hours on end, and had an altar with all the accouterments in the family room. Likewise, my beloved grandma became a ‘vestment maker,’ sewing chasubles and copes.

“My family didn’t just let a kid be a kid; rather, they epitomized what it means for the family to be the ‘little church’ where faith is nurtured and cultivated. They have continued to be the biggest support throughout my life and I am grateful everyday for their example and love.”

Mr. Hainsey says that he has very much enjoyed his studies and formation in seminary. He has attended both the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio, and St. Vincent Seminary, Latrobe. He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2017. Before entering the seminary Mr. Hainsey earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design at St. Vincent College, a talent he continues to use often, but, he says, his journey in the seminary has brought him to a much more exciting place spiritually and with a deeper understanding of life.

“When I graduated college, I was thankful I was done with classroom studies,” he said. “I had always loved learning and reading, but tests and exams made me cringe. Seminary was different though. Yes, academics are essential, but the praxis cultivated by the professors, formation staff and seminarians is based on a holistic approach that values — as much, if not more — pastoral, spiritual and human formation. Some of the seminarians I have studied with have been doctors, lawyers, gardeners, teachers and musicians. The best part of seminary is when you realize the real struggle worth waging is to be holy — for Christ and his Church, for the people of God. When one puts this journey at the heart of his vocation, daily crosses become redemptive and life-giving acts.”

Following college Mr. Hainsey was working in public relations and graphic design at St. Vincent Archabbey and Seminary and that is where he developed friendships with seminarians from the Diocese of Covington.

“They invited me to come and see Covington for Holy Week. It was a powerful experience, taking part in the transcendent liturgies of the Triduum and seeing first hand a rich fraternity among the clergy that is essential for fruitful and effective ministry,” he said. “The invitation to come and see is one I will always be grateful for. That is why it is important to ask young people if they’ve considered a vocation to the priesthood or religious life.”

As a deacon, Mr. Hainsey is looking forward to being a servant to the people of God.

“In the early Church, the deacon assisted the bishop during the sacred liturgy and distributed alms to the poor,” he said. “St. Ignatius of Antioch, in the early second century, considered a church without the orders of bishop, priest and deacon unthinkable. The early deacons were the ones who carried the Eucharist to the faithful and shared the Gospel message with those on the fringe of society. These important spiritual and tangible acts of service are what I hope to share in my ministry as a deacon.”

Mr. Hainsey said that his favorite Bible passage is Romans 8:31–39, which speaks of the all-conquering power God’s love has at overcoming every obstacle to one’s salvation.

“Being a Christian is beyond challenging today,” said Mr. Hainsey. “Society seeks to corrupt our moral compass and conscience. And physically, martyrdom for the faith is very much alive and present. The passage from Paul in Romans, however, should give us pause and confidence. It is a promise that God abides with us in every trial and obstacle.”

In his spare time Mr. Hainsey enjoys hiking, kayaking and traveling, and he says that it is healthy and good to make time to go outside of one’s routine to experience nature and other cultures replete with their traditions.

“These experiences of God’s creative handiwork and our connectedness to one another help me to re-center and grow closer to God,” he said.

Another interesting fact about Mr. Hainsey is that he is involved with the cause of canonization of Blessed Karl of Austria (Kaiser Karl Gebetsliga), the last emperor of Austria-Hungary.

“Since 2015, I have served as the webmaster and graphic designer for EmperorCharles.org, the U.S.A. and Canadian Promoter for Blessed Karl’s canonization,” he said. “I am responsible for the design, maintenance, site content, and development of holy reminders available in the online store.”

In 2017, Mr. Hainsey was invited by the international delegation of the Gebetsliga to Rome to meet with Pope Francis on the centenary anniversary of the peace initiatives of Pope Benedict XV, a contemporary of Blessed Karl, who tried to avert the disaster of World War I.

With praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God,

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington

Requests the honor of your presence

At the Ordination to the Diaconate of

Jordan Mark Hainsey

Through the power of the Holy Spirit

And the imposition of hands by

The Most Reverend Roger J. Foys, D.D.

Bishop of Covington

Saturday, April 13, 10 a.m.

Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington.

Everyone is invited to attend.

A reception will follow at Bishop Howard Memorial Auditorium,

Diocesan Curia Building, Covington.

Community and church leaders prepare for ‘Wait No More’ event to help children in foster care

By David Cooley.

Focus on the Family in conjunction with local agencies and ministries, will be hosting free educational events on foster care, entitled “Wait No More,” later this year, Aug. 20–23, 2019, at four Kentucky locations. One of the locations will be in Northern Kentucky at Florence Baptist Church, Florence, on Aug. 20, at 6 p.m. Event planners are hoping to fill the exceptionally large church with hundreds and hundreds of people. The other three Kentucky events will take place in Lexington, Louisville and Bowling Green.

The Wait No More events are designed to empower and educate people, encouraging families to consider fostering children, adopting children from foster care or supporting other families who do those two things. Architects of the program are making an appeal to the Christian community. They are hoping that churches all across Kentucky will spread the word about the event and invite their congregations to attend. In Kentucky there are more than 6,359 churches with families who can change the lives of these children forever.

Over the past 10 years there have been 39 Wait No More events conducted in 22 states, and over 4,000 families have been inspired to help the foster care system, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Right now there are more than 400,000 children and youth in foster care in the United States, 100,000 of whom are available for adoption and waiting for families to call their own.

In Kentucky alone there are over 9,800 children in the foster care system waiting for families. They are children who have often times been through traumatic experiences or cases of abuse or neglect. In some cases they are children of parents who are addicted to opioids, or, even worse, parents who died from an overdose.

Sometimes the children in foster care have been through all of that listed above and more. Ultimately, they are children who, for one reason or another, the state found necessary to move from a situation of danger to a place of safety. And so they wait. They wait in an overwhelmed system, and they wait for an undisclosed amount of time. They are young, ages varying from newborn to 17; they come in all shapes and sizes and from many different backgrounds. They didn’t ask to be foster children and they deserve families that will love, nurture, support, guide and advocate for them. But where will these families come from?

Focus on the Family, a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive by providing help and resources, believes that the families will come from Christian churches — the people who are living out the Gospel of Christ, those looking to take care of “the least of these.”

In preparation for the main event in August, representatives from the Diocese of Covington — Ron Bertsch, director of therapeutic foster care/adoption services, and Natalie Hemmer, recruiter, for Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home (DCCH Center for Children and Families); and Deacon Paul Yancey, All Saints Parish, Walton, and assistant to the director, Permanent Deacon Formation — joined other church, government and community leaders at the Kentucky Community Leader dinner Feb. 26 at Florence Baptist Church. There they heard, Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, speak about his personal story as a foster child and about the mission of Wait No More.

Mr. Daly said that after losing his parents at a young age he had many painful experiences but caught glimpses of grace throughout his journey, mostly through small acts of kindness from the people who entered his life by chance.

“The key thing I want to stress in all of this is that I know that side of the story,” Mr. Daly said. “I was that child (in foster care). We as a Christian community need to be involved. This is a place where we can step in, and we have for years … but we can do so much more; we should be doing so much more.”

Mr. Daly and his wife, Jean, became certified foster parents around 10 years ago and have taken care of over 15 children since that time.

“We’ve done it and we know the hardships of it. We, like you, are committed. It is about the children, helping them and finding them forever homes,” he said. “All we want to do is work with you and help you achieve what you can achieve here.”

Mr. Daly said that one of the biggest challenges working in Christian ministry is how to motivate people to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

“Our culture tells us to stick to our comfort and leisure, but that’s not what this life is about for us as Christians,” he said.

Mr. Bertsch is hoping that many in the Catholic community will attend the Wait No More event in August. He said that he fears that foster care, to many people, seems like an unimaginable sacrifice and not something anyone in their right mind would do.

“If the Church can’t offer families willing to make this sacrifice, I fear we are pretty hopeless. But I don’t believe that is the case,” said Mr. Bertsch. “There is hope and there are many within our diocese who are willing to shake off what the world tells them, and do what Christ wants and calls us to do. We are called to care for the orphaned, help feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and give warmth to the cold and naked.”

Mr. Bertsch said that he doesn’t want children in Northern Kentucky to wait for a good family.

“We need more Christian families to answer the call now and make a difference in a child’s life now,” he said. “I loved what was said Tuesday night (at the Kentucky Community Leader dinner): whether someone can foster a child for a season or parent for a lifetime, they can make a difference. We need more families to care for these children.

“I encourage each parish and our entire Catholic diocese to support and be the ‘extended family’ for anyone who does feel the call to foster or adopt,” he said. “If we can take some of that fear away by letting them know their bishop, their pastor, their deacon and their fellow parishioners are all praying for them, that is important and very meaningful.”

Mr. Bertsch said that, along with praying for the foster and adoptive parents, there is so much more the people in the Catholic Church can do, aside from fostering and adopting children.

“Some might be called to be shorter term respite providers. Others are maybe called to help with the multiple children in a foster or adoptive home, who need transportation to school events, practice or games. Maybe others could offer to make a meal after a long tough day for a family that was out on medical or therapy appointments. Find ways to help with school homework that is taking a toll on a family,” he said.

Mr. Bertsch said that a good first step for people, no matter what God may be calling them to do, is to make plans to attend Wait No More and bring friends.

Focus on the Family will present a free “Wait No More” foster care event at Florence Baptist Church, Florence, Aug. 20, 6 p.m. Since food will be provided, those interested are asked to register at WaitNoMore.org/KY.

Come and See
Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home (DCCH), Ft. Mitchell, informational meeting, March 14, Independence, Kenton Co. Public Library, 6:30 p.m.; and March 26, at DCCH, 6:30 p.m. DCCH staff are willing to meet with anyone individually, call 331–2040, ext. 8641. The next training program for foster parents will begin May 9. Each session is a 10-week training for three hours each night for a total of 30 hours pre-service training; this includes the Virtus, Protecting God’s Children class. Visit https://www.dcchcenter.org.

Students prepare hearts for Lent at Rice Bowl luncheon

By David Cooley.

Around 65 student representatives from five high schools and 12 elementary schools participated, Feb. 15, in the annual Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Operation Rice Bowl kickoff luncheon at Bishop Howard Memorial Auditorium, Covington. The local (CRS) Rice Bowl event is co-sponsored by Catholic Charities – Diocese of Covington and the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Mission Services. At the event the junior high and high school students learned about the popular CRS Rice Bowl Lenten project, local poverty and what local social service agencies are doing to face the challenges of the community.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. CRS Rice Bowl is Catholic Relief Services’ Lenten program for families and faith communities in the United States who want to put faith into action. Through CRS Rice Bowl, participants hear stories about people in need around the world, and devote Lenten prayers, fasting and alms to change the lives of those who suffer in poverty.

As students and guests entered Bishop Howard Memorial Auditorium they were directed to three interactive displays created by students from St. Joseph Academy, Walton. The displays provided information about a few of the countries that CRS serves. The students who created the displays offered information about the countries and its greatest needs.

During lunch students were assigned to specific tables with leaders representing one of several local agencies that assist the poor and marginalized in the area. The table leaders were: Andy Brunsman, executive director, Be Concerned; Vicky Bauerle, institutional advancement manager, Catholic Charities; Brandy Mendaugh, case manager of Catholic Charities’ St. Joseph Apartments; Benedictine Sister Cathy Bauer; Connor Creaghead, assessment and resource coordinator, Welcome House; Gina Cornelius, housing counselor, HONK; Jill Hilgefort, executive director, Faith Community Pharmacy; Karen Zengel, executive director, Society of St. Vincent de Paul; and Kim Webb, executive director, Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky. Each leader explained to the students how his or her organization serves the community. The students reflected on what they heard and brainstormed ways they could bring the information back to their schools, inspire other students and make a positive impact in the world.

The CRS keynote speaker was Daniel Mumuni, program manager, McGovern-Dole Food for Education program, Sierra Leone. The McGovern-Dole Food for Education program provides food for children in school. In West Africa, many communities depend on agriculture for food and income. As a result, children commonly drop out of school to help parents farm the land to help make ends meet. While helping in the fields provides some support to the family, a child without an education faces long-term obstacles.

Offering meals to children doesn’t just keep them in school, it also encourages parents to become more engaged and committed to improving their children’s education. Mr. Mumuni has witnessed this firsthand — parents have volunteered to upgrade school facilities by providing and transporting building materials. This is their way to show they believe in the importance of education, and to prove that they have the power to build their own futures.

Mr. Mumuni shared his personal story of growing up in Ghana. He was lucky, he said, to have parents who believed in the value of a good education, who ensured that he and his siblings all had the best education possible despite the meager family resources. The fact that he was able to achieve a quality education in one of the most deprived regions of Ghana has shaped his worldview and is why he does what he does. As a father of two daughters he works hard to provide what is best for them and when he sees the poor and the most vulnerable, he always sees them through the eyes of his children and remembers from where he came.

Sierra Leone, where Mr. Mumuni works, is still recovering from the civil war that raged between 1991 and 2002, that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about a third of the population). Sierra Leone remains among the least developed countries in the world, ranking 183 out of 186 countries. Life expectancy is 48 years and youth unemployment is 70 percent. Rates of child and maternal mortality are high, levels of education are low and, despite rich resource endowments and abundant land, more than 60 percent of Sierra Leoneans live on less than $1.25 a day.

“CRS has been working in the most remote parts of Sierra Leone” to make sure the people’s basic needs are met, Mr. Mumuni said. “CRS has been working in the communities (of Sierra Leone) to advocate for more children to be put in schools. Not only do we provide opportunities for children to obtain school and a hot lunch, we also provide transportation and infrastructure; we build classroom blocks, we provide teaching and learning materials, we provide water, sanitation and more.”

Mr. Mumuni asked the students why they thought it was important for them to learn about other people living in poverty in other places around the world? He asked them how these stories connected to them or why they mattered at all?

“Every day the children in Sierra Leone pray to God for support before they start school. They pray for better lives for their parents, for good health, for a good education, for a good future. But, what does that prayer mean? It is calling on God for help. How does God answer prayer? He answers through each of us. That is how God works. We are all vessels, instruments of God,” said Mr. Mumuni.

“We are commissioned by our humanity and by our Christian faith to be each other’s keeper. This quote from Matthew’s Gospel has always touched me deeply: ‘Whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers you do unto me.’ … This is why we should all be interested in what happens in another country and what happens to people. Because the world is connected.”

Through CRS Rice Bowl, faith communities throughout the United States put their faith into action. Lenten alms donated through CRS Rice Bowl support the work of CRS in roughly 45 different countries each year. Twenty-five percent of all donations to CRS Rice Bowl stay in the local diocese, supporting hunger and poverty alleviation efforts. Since its inception in 1975, CRS Rice Bowl has raised nearly $300 million. More information and resources can be found at https://www.crsricebowl.org.

Care Net implements same day ultrasound services, hopes to save more lives

By David Cooley.

Care Net, a Christ-centered organization whose mission is to educate, support and empower men and women before, during and after an unplanned pregnancy while uplifting the sanctity of human life, has expanded its medical services to include same-day ultrasound appointments. According to Lyndi Zembrodt, executive director, this new initiative may result in 41 percent more lives saved in 2019.

While Care Net began offering ultrasounds at no cost to clients in 2006, they were only able to do so once a week. After adding a second pregnancy service center, they began rotating the weekly ultrasounds between their two medical facilities — Cold Spring and Florence (Care Net also has a third pregnancy service center in Williamstown, but it is not a medical clinic).

“We were offering ultrasounds one day a week in Florence and one day a week in Cold Spring. We were trying to get clients to come in on the days we were open for ultrasounds,” Mrs. Zembrodt said. “What we noticed was that we would have a drop off of clients not returning for their second appointment [to get an ultrasound]. It is crucial that we get them here. Ninety to 98 percent of our clients will choose life for their unborn baby if they make it to Care Net to have an ultrasound.”

Last month, January 2019, Care Net launched the new initiative, offering ultrasounds four days a week — each day they are open. There was a 110 percent increase in the number of ultrasounds they performed this year over last.

“We are attracting more clients because they can get in for a same-day ultrasound. We have revamped our client website, to include a phone number for our 24-hour helpline they can call or they can book their appointment right there online. We have been able to get these women in here immediately,” said Mrs. Zembrodt.

“This initiative has also increased the amount of abortion-minded clients that have come to our clinic — these are women who are seeking abortion information or had tried to schedule an appointment at an abortion facility,” she said. “We have also had an increase in the number of undecided women who are still exploring their options with their pregnancy.”

The reason these clients end up at Care Net, according to Mrs. Zembrodt, is because their website contains information about abortion and so it comes up in their online search.

“We don’t provide referrals for abortion but if they seek us out we are going to be able to provide them with a pregnancy confirmation through ultrasound, which is basically what they are going to need,” she said. “When they come to us at no cost for the ultrasound, we are able to provide them with information about fetal development and a picture of their baby. We work on connecting them with their baby right away. We give them truthful information right then and there.”

Mrs. Zembrodt said that the majority of Care Net’s clients are women who are considered abortion-vulnerable — women who may otherwise want to carry their baby to term but their circumstances, whether it be their job, an unstable relationship with the father of the baby or housing issues, lead them to believe that they are in a position where they can’t choose life.

“We do everything we can think of that we feel will be meaningful for these young people to connect to these babies,” Mrs. Zembrodt said.

“For example, we’ve implemented in the last two years something called ‘MOMentum.’ MOMentum is an application that enables us to send the images of the ultrasound to the client’s phone or e-mail. We give them a physical copy of their picture but we also send it to their phone — we believe that has also increased the number of lives saved because people are so visual. They have their phone with them all the time and if that image is there, where they can see it and save it, it becomes very real to them.”

Mrs. Zembrodt said that they track, to the best of their ability, the final decisions made by the people who come to see them.

“Some of them we may know that they’ve have changed their mind during the ultrasound. We also follow up with a doctor’s report of the ultrasound findings with them, and we also, at that time, would like to know what their decision is in case it is our last contact with them,” she said.

It has taken a giant leap of faith for Care Net to begin offering same-day ultrasounds.

“It is a big deal. We are kind of stepping out in faith that God is going to carry us through this,” Mrs. Zembrodt said. “We are offering a small stipend to medical RNs who want to come onboard at Care Net and train to facilitate ultrasound services in the first and second trimester. We have made this decision and, so far, God has opened the gate for us.”

According to Mrs. Zembrodt, having a place like Care Net and supporting grass root pregnancy care centers is a crucial component of the pro-life movement.

“Laws can change in a minute — we’ve seen that recently with the state of New York — and it’s important to have pregnancy resource centers that are impacting the lives of the people they see on a daily basis. We are changing the culture and having an impact because we are meeting people at a grass roots level and educating them on the sanctity of all human life,” she said.

“Someone can be pro-life until they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy and then they may choose abortion. It is important that someone is there on the frontlines that can intercede on behalf of that child, to introduce them to their parents through ultrasound.”

Care Net began operations in July 1999. All services are free and confidential. To find out more visit https://www.choselifenky.org or https://carenetnky.org.


Care Net upcoming events:

Annual Banquet, featuring David Bereit, Thursday, May 9, Receptions, Erlanger

Golf Scramble, Friday, Aug. 16, Aston Oaks, North Bend, Ohio

5K Run/Walk, Saturday, Sept. 28, Pioneer Park, Independence

Bishop Foys addresses Covington Catholic community — ‘I stand with you … together we will work it out’

By Laura Keener.

You could literally hear a pin drop as the faculty, staff and student body of Covington Catholic High School waited in the gym, Jan. 23, for the arrival of Bishop Roger Foys. As Bishop Foys entered the gymnasium the entire assembly stood up, waited for Bishop Foys to take his seat and then in unison took their seats. He was there to address the students about the events that took place Jan. 18, after the March for Life in Washington, D.C., where a student standing face-to-face with an elder Native American was captured on video and ignited a firestorm on social media — making headlines around the world

Bob Rowe, principal, opened with a prayer, then introduced Bishop Foys.

“These last four days have been a living hell for many of you, for your parents, for your relatives, for your friends and it certainly has been for me,” Bishop Foys said as he began to address the assembly. “We are under all kinds of pressure from a lot of different people, for a lot of different reasons.”

Bishop Foys began by sharing how impressive the March for Life had been, especially the Mass celebrated at St. Dominic Church just before the march.

“I know many of you couldn’t be at the Mass because you had a problem with your buses. It was really a moving time,” said Bishop Foys. “Over 1,000 people gathered for that Mass and there’s a real reverence about it.

“I told the students before we dismissed that … when they left that church and when they marched on the streets of Washington, D.C. for life, like we’ve done for the last 46 years, that they represented what was best about the Church and what was best about the Diocese of Covington; that we were sending out our best to stand up for life. It was a wonderful day, filled with real grace. That night I slept peacefully. It was the last night I’ve slept peacefully.”

Bishop Foys explained that by Saturday morning he and Curia staff were beginning to receive calls and e-mails from news stations and people from all over the world commenting about the confrontation in Washington. By Sunday morning the diocesan website was receiving over 200 thousand hits per hour and e-mails were coming in at a rate of over 10,000 an hour — crashing servers. Staff phones rang persistently for days — cell phones and office phones — until voicemail boxes were full; calls from media seeking a statement, or comments from individuals all over the world criticizing either the students for their behavior or the diocese for their lack of support.

“Soon, my brother bishops began to text me worrying about my welfare and yours. People care about you. People love and care and are concerned about the Church and they are concerned about you.”

Bishop Foys went on to summarize the situation that he, Mr. Rowe, the students, the Covington Catholic community and the diocese are now facing and about the investigation being done.

“This is a no-win situation. We are not going to win. No matter what we say, one way or another, there are going to be people who are going to argue about it, people who will try to get into people’s heads and say, ‘This is what he meant. This is what they meant when they were doing this and doing that.’ The best we can do is, first of all, to find out the truth, to find out what really went on, what really happened. So we do have investigators who are here today, a third-party who are not associated with our diocese, not associated with me or with the school, who are working on this investigation to find out what happened.

“I am the shepherd of this Church. I have to present not only to the people of our diocese but also to the world the facts. Not the facts that someone has imagined or the facts that someone thinks or facts that people might determine from seeing a video. I encourage all of you, especially the students who were there at the march, to cooperate with the investigators. This is with the permission of your parents. We’re not going to have you do anything without the permission of your parents. And the teachers and chaperones who were there, I am asking you, too, to be cooperative with this.

“Father Michael Hennigen (school chaplain) has said that ‘The truth will set us free.’ That’s true. It is my fond hope, it is my prayer, that when the truth comes out you and I and the diocese will be exonerated. But I need something to present to God’s people and say, ‘Look! Here are the objective facts.’ This investigation isn’t going to be over overnight — it can’t be if it’s going to be thorough.

“Some people’s lives, as you know, have been affected for the rest of their lives and the honor of our school has been tainted. We have received, and probably you have received, horrible, vile e-mails. This brings out the worst in people.

“We have to ask ourselves, what are we going to learn from this? One of the things I hope we’ve learned, I hope you’ve learned, is that perception can become reality. A person can be doing something that is absolutely innocent but if he gives the slightest hint, the slightest perception, that this is something wrong that is what people are going to remember, and then for them that becomes their reality.

“I’m going to ask you, as your bishop, to stay off social media in regards to this situation at least until it is resolved. Because the more you say — pro or con — the more you exacerbate the situation. You have to help, especially yourself, by getting off social media. Right now anything we say — you or I — anything we say is questioned. The devil is real; trust me. He has taken this good thing, this March for Life, and turned it into a media circus.”

Bishop Foys then talked to the students about the statements that have been released by the diocese and the school, which have been criticized.

“Some people think our first statement was too strong, but in my mind with what we saw and what we heard at the time, we had to say what we said and we meant it. If that behavior is genuine then we have to condemn it.

“We issued a second statement yesterday. Regardless of what you heard or what you’ve read or what you think— I am on your side. I want you to come out of this in a positive light.

“In our second statement I asked people to pray that we will arrive at the truth. The only way we can do that in an objective way is through a thorough and in-depth investigation. It is my hope and my prayer that, in the end, it will show exactly what happened and that we will be able to stand tall and proud. People will still criticize us one way or the other — people will believe it or not believe it — but at least we can say we’ve taken the time to talk to all the parties involved and to get all the footage we can that was taken that day and say, ‘Here, this is not what we think happened or what we would like to believe happened, but this is what in fact happened. If there was some wrongdoing we have to own up to that, too. Father Michael is right, it is the truth that will set us free.”

In closing he reminded the students how much he supports Catholic education and CCHS in particular.

“Anybody who knows me knows that I support Catholic education. Over the last 17 years I have come to Covington Catholic a number of times each year. I always open your school year with Mass and I celebrate with you your successes. It pains me, more than you can imagine, having to be here today; but we can get over this. I’m 73 years old, I have faced a lot of struggles and hardships — we will get over this, there will be time to heal, it will be all right. But in the meantime preserve the integrity of the school, be the best that you can be and lay off the social media for a while.

“Know that I stand with you, that I join with you in that ‘Spirit that will not die’ and that together we will work through this. Thank you and God bless you.”

As Bishop Foys turned the podium over to Mr. Rowe, he expressed his confidence in the principal. “Mr. Rowe has done a wonderful job here in his leadership. I have full confidence in him and he will continue to lead you,” he said.

In his final remarks before dismissing the assembly Mr. Rowe said, “Bishop Foys supports us — now we need to support him.”

Diocese ignites bold new initiative to re-engage young adults in the Church

By David Cooley.

It’s called the Frassati Project and it is an ambitious program being implemented in the Diocese of Covington by Brad Torline, the new young adult ministry coordinator in the Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation. Mr. Torline has been working as a member of that office since August.

“The Frassati Project is a new major undertaking in our diocese to re-engage young adults in the life and mission of the Church, but, most especially, the life and mission of the local parishes,” Mr. Torline said.

According to Mr. Torline, the project is structured to build a close-knit community of young Catholic men and women in Northern Kentucky and revitalize Catholic culture in their lives, ultimately leading to an authentic sacramental way of life.

“It is all about building a community among young adults, identifying leaders and making sure those leaders from across the diocese are connected and supporting each other on the diocesan level,” Mr. Torline said. “We will empower those leaders to start and sustain their own young adult groups at their respective parishes.”

The Frassati Project gets its name from Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a Catholic man who lived in the early 20th century and died at the age of 24. He is known for how he put his pious beliefs into action, his amiable character and his devotion to the Catholic faith. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 20, 1990, and dubbed the “Man of the Eight Beatitudes.”

The Frassati Project is organized as a three-tiered structure of events and Mr. Torline plans to follow this “Win,” “Build,” “Send” model through the events the Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation will host throughout the year.

“The idea is to win young adults over through cultural and social events, build them up through formational and sacramental events; and, finally, send them out with the tools they need to evangelize and strengthen parish life, through retreats and small parish groups,” he said.

In a society that appears to be growing more and more hostile toward religion and the continuously rising number of young people who don’t associate themselves with any particular belief system (known as “the nones”), Mr. Torline acknowledged that there is a lot of work to be done and winning people over is sometimes a process that doesn’t happen over night.

“When trying to engage young adults and millennials, we cannot deny that there has been intellectual attacks on the Church. Many people don’t think it is rational to have faith anymore. Most young adults, when surveyed after leaving the Church, give an intellectual reason. I think there are also people out there who want to believe but just don’t think that it is intellectually viable anymore. We have to address those issues on some level, and in a systematic, thorough young adult ministry.”

The cultural and social events that the Office is planning to host tend to put the richness and beauty of Catholic culture on full display.

“The Catholic Church has always been big on feasts and celebrating life,” he said, “and so we are planning socials around the Church’s liturgical calendar.”

Mr. Torline said that once the young adults have had that cultural experience that draws them in through fellowship and beauty (something that wins them over), they’ll be given opportunities to take a step deeper in that second tier — build.

“The second phase is basically engaging them on the level of the mind and heart. We’ll host events where we can discuss life’s most important questions, where we can begin to address some of the intellectual issues and help young people grow in confidence in the Church’s intellectual tradition and the rationality of believing,” said Mr. Torline. “And as they get more comfortable with their faith they will be more open to that sacramental experience of Christ.”

Each year in the spring and fall there will be a series of “win” and “build” events; in the summer and winter there will be what Mr. Torline calls “Frassati retreats.”

“The social events are designed to get people more interested. They will start meeting other people and having serious conversations about the faith and become more open to it and eventually attend a Frassati retreat in the winter or summer,” he said.

“The hope is that, once they reach this final tier — ‘send’ — they will start a small group at the parish and invite a couple people that are open to the Church and take them through the whole cycle. The idea is to keep everything going and growing.”

Isaak A. Isaak, director of the Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation, said that his office is striving to follow the vision Bishop Roger Foys, as well as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has laid out for young adult ministry.

“As the director of Catechesis I always look to the bishops, especially our bishop, as resources. As an office, we have to ask ourselves how we can be keepers of the bishop’s vision,” Mr. Isaak said. “In 1996 the USCCB published a document called ‘In Sons and Daughters of the Light: A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults’ where they offered three invitations to young adults: holiness, community and service.”

Mr. Isaak said that a young adult minister is called to show young adults the many opportunities the Church offers that can lead young adults to holiness.

“The bishops are aware that young adults seek community, they seek companionship in terms of their faith journey. They want to connect with each other and are searching for identity among their peers. There are many ways to get involved with the community, through both spiritual and social events,” Mr. Isaak said.

“And service is important, too. The Catholic Church is known by its service, and young people are good resources for serving the community and being engaged in the community.”

Mr. Isaak said that “In Sons and Daughters of the Light” also outlined three goals for young adult ministry: connecting young adults with Jesus Christ, with the Church, with the mission of the Church in the world and with their peer community.

“For me, that question of how to connect with Jesus is crucial; it goes back to the question of how to be holy,” Mr. Isaak said. “The other thing is connection to the Church. We must connect young adults to their own parish communities and help them recognize that it is like a family, where there is so much available to them.”

Mr. Isaak said that he is very excited about where young adult ministry is headed in the diocese.

“It can be very difficult to bring young adults to ministry, but it is important. It reminds me of what Pope John Paul II said at World Youth Day in 1995: the Church must be a traveling companion to young people. We can’t wait for young adults to come to our church, we have to meet them where they are and reach out to them.”

The Office of Catechesis and Formation is working to build a core team of representatives from every parish in the diocese to help launch and continue The Frassati Project. Anyone interested (even if you are over 39) is encouraged to contact Mr. Torline at (859) 392-1590 or [email protected].

Thomas More earns university status

The Thomas More College Board of Trustees announced Sept. 28 that the college would officially become Thomas More University effective Oct. 1. Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education formally granted university status to the college in July. While full implementation of Thomas More’s name change will take place over the coming 2018-2019 academic year, the college rolled out its new identity at the end of last week, wrapping up a weeklong series of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Crestview Hills campus dedication.

The new university designation celebrates the evolution and success of the college, and it positions Thomas More to leverage its expanding academic offerings, including new graduate programs in ethical leadership studies and athletic training, as well as an array of online programs. The transition to university will necessitate a new organizational structure by creating three distinct colleges and one new institute: College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, College of Education and Health Sciences, and Institute for Ethical Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies.

The college’s breadth of academic programs has been enriched by recent growth in its physical facilities. This fall, Thomas More will open a new residence hall on its campus, a new STEM Outreach Center at its Biology Field Station on the Ohio River, and it will further expand its campus footprint with the new Center for Health Sciences (in partnership with St. Elizabeth Healthcare) and a Performing Arts Laboratory, both located in Edgewood within walking distance of the campus core. The college has also witnessed significant growth in its endowment, donor contributions, co-curricular programs and enrollment — welcoming the largest incoming class in the school’s history this fall.

“This is a landmark event, and we believe it is the right time in our history to assume the university moniker,” said Kathleen Jagger, acting president of Thomas More. “In 2021, we will mark our centennial anniversary, and this transition to university is the first in a series of strategic moves we are making to position Thomas More for its next century of work.”

Dr. Jagger noted that the new designation will enhance the school’s expansion, marketing and branding efforts as it seeks to position itself, its students and its faculty on the global stage. Dr. Jagger explained that the term “college” in many places around the world actually refers to high schools. “Our new identity as Thomas More University should translate into greater credibility on the international stage for both our students and for those students from other countries who might want to choose an education here.”

“The Board of Trustees is proud to share this momentous announcement with our community,” said Marc Neltner, chairman of the Thomas More College Board of Trustees. “As Thomas More continues to innovate, our commitment to our students remains steadfast. Thomas More University will continue to provide the exceptional, values-based education that has given us our reputable status as a Catholic institution grounded in the liberal arts, while offering new, expanded professional and integrative academic programs.”

Bishop Foys’ statement on current sex abuse crisis

My dear Friends in Christ,

A Pennsylvania Grand Jury released, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, a report detailing the names of 301 priests who sexually abused over 1,000 minors over a 70-year period in that State. This report, coupled with the recent revelations regarding the former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and seminaries in Boston, Mass., and Lincoln, Neb., has shocked and angered God’s people, including myself.

These revelations call to mind for me, as I am sure it does for many of you, 16 years ago when we, in the Diocese of Covington, faced a similar crisis. It was an extremely difficult time for us as a Diocese — for our people, for our priests, for me and most especially for the victims of sexual abuse.

Meeting individually with over 200 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse by priests changed my life. I have seen the pain in their eyes and in many instances shared their tears from their experiences. Their pain lives in my heart and impacts every decision I make in my quest to protect children and vulnerable adults. I will carry their pain with me to the Bishops’ Conference in November as we again discuss the concrete changes that need to occur within the governance of the Church to better address the sin of sexual abuse within the Church.

Pope Francis, in his Aug. 20 statement concerning the findings of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, said, “Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening.”

I assure you that in our Diocese we will continue to do everything we can to address this issue. I commit myself to acknowledging and working together, with our priests and people, toward this important task, that “no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening.”

Let us begin by placing ourselves in Christ’s hands. Please join me in praying for the victims of child sexual abuse by clergy, that they may find peace and healing in the arms of Christ. Pray also for the good and faithful priests who, with me, are humiliated and disheartened by the sins of their brother priests, that they may continue to live faithful lives in the example of Christ.

Christ, alone, suffered death on the Cross to redeem us from our sins. Now, Jesus, we place our trust in You.

Yours devotedly in the Lord,

Most Rev. Roger J. Foys, D.D.

Bishop of Covington