Bishop Foys accepts candidate for seminary

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Zacharias Schoen, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Aug. 9, in a ceremony known as the Rite of Candidacy, declared his intention to discern a priestly vocation as a seminarian for the Diocese of Covington. Bishop Roger Foys, on behalf of the entire Church, accepted his candidacy. Mr. Schoen has completed his philosophical studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus. He will begin his theological studies that will lead to ordination at St. Vincent Seminary, Latrobe.

“It gives me joy to welcome our seminarian Zacharias Schoen to this Rite of Candidacy,” said Bishop Foys. “He has listened to the voice of the Lord. It is the Lord who has begun this good work in him, and it is the Lord who will bring it to completion.”

This fall 12 men will be studying for the priesthood for the Diocese of Covington. At the end of his homily, Bishop Foys said: “It is a good time for our seminarians and all seminarians to remind themselves about keeping focused on the Lord. The journey to the priesthood is not always easy… I encourage our seminarians today to renew their commitment, to listen carefully to the voice of the Lord and never take their eyes off of him.”

There are four new seminarians this year. All 12 will begin or continue their studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus and St. Vincent Seminary, Latrobe. (From left to right) Top row: Michael Elmlinger, William Pikar, Bradley Whittle, John Tarvin, Henry “Hank” Bischoff, Michael Schulte, Joshua “Josh” Heskamp, John Baumann. Bottom row: Justin Schwarz, Deacon Joseph Rielage, Bishop Roger Foys, Andrew Joseph “A.J.” Gedney and Zacharias Schoen.

Catholic schools to reopen August 17

Messenger Staff Report

In a letter to Catholic School leaders Bishop Roger Foys and Mike Clines, superintendent of Catholic Schools, announced that schools would begin in-person instruction the week of August 17 in the Diocese of Covington.

The decision was made after much consultation, including with the Kentucky bishops of Lexington, Louisville and Owensboro, and after hearing from our Catholic school communities. The schools have created various models for beginning the school year under the guidance of the Diocese of Covington’s Department of Catholic Schools “COVID-19 Return to School Requirements,” including an option for at-home learning if a parent decides that would be the best option for their student.

At each school implementation of the requirements will be monitored. During the week of Sept. 6, our experience to date will be evaluated and needed changes will be made at that time.

Many factors were considered in making this decision including:

— Pastors, administrators, faculty and staff have been working diligently throughout the summer with their local COVID-19 task force to prepare schools for strict adherence to the COVID-19 requirements. Their commitment to the students is evidenced by the excitement, seriousness and creativity in creating environments that meet the educational and safety needs of their students.
— A desire among the community — priests, principals, parents and students — to be given an opportunity to implement the plans that have been scrupulously developed; and their stated confidence in the plans.
— The understanding that education includes formation of the entire student — mind, body and soul — and is preferably accomplished in a faith community. Our concern for the welfare of our students includes their educational, emotional, social and spiritual development.

“As we move forward, we thank our parents for their support,” Bishop Foys and Mr. Clines said in their letter to Catholic School leaders. “The health of our schools will depend in large part on the health of each individual student. We are depending on our parents to monitor their child’s health every day and to keep their child home when they are sick.”

Parents are expected to adhere to the “COVID-19 Return to School Requirements” (copy attached) — frequently washing hands, wearing a mask, maintaining proper social distancing and eliminating unnecessary travel — so that together we can mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in our communities and sustain in-person instruction in our schools.

“We express our deepest gratitude to our school leaders for their selfless commitment to Catholic education,” they said.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington Statement on Abuse File Review

Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington
Statement on Abuse File Review
July 31, 2020

The Diocese of Covington today is releasing the names of priests, religious, deacons and lay employees who have served in our Diocese against whom one or more allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been substantiated.

The list is the product of a comprehensive and independent review of thousands of diocesan records dating back to 1950. Two former FBI agents were given free rein to review all diocesan records, including Chancery files, archival files, priest personnel files, and Safe Environment files. The former FBI agents have a combined 50 years of investigative experience.

In October, 2019, Bishop Roger Foys and the Diocesan Review Board initiated the review as a way to continue to assure the people of the Diocese of Covington, as well as our priests and other Diocesan personnel, that the Diocese has, as far as is humanly possible, addressed the scourge of sexual abuse of minors by its priests, religious and lay employees.

Inclusion on this list does not necessarily indicate that an accused priest, religious, deacon or lay employee has been found guilty of a crime or liable for any civil claim. The definition of “substantiated allegation” that guided the file review is as follows:

An allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is deemed substantiated when there is probable cause for believing the claim is true. The following may be considered as evidence of probable cause:

1) admission of guilt by the accused;
2) guilty finding rendered by a court;
3) finding rendered by an investigative process shows cause for believing the allegation is true on an objective basis;
4) the accused, when presented with the allegation and afforded a reasonable opportunity to respond, declined to address the allegation; or
5) the Special Masters appointed by the Court in the class action litigation against the Diocese made a monetary award from the class settlement fund based on a sworn claim form alleging one or more incidents of sexual abuse of a minor by the accused, and any other evidence that was submitted on behalf of the claimant.

The review process that has culminated in this list is part of the Diocese’s ongoing commitment to create a Safe Environment and to ensure that all allegations of child sexual abuse by priests, religious and lay employees over the last 70 years have been properly identified and reported. The review process is the natural outgrowth of two significant developments that have transpired during the last eighteen (18) years: significant reforms in the U.S. Catholic Church beginning in 2002 and the Diocese’s involvement in class action litigation from 2003-2009.

U.S. Church Reforms (2002)

In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops instituted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the “Dallas Charter”)[1] The Dallas Charter set forth reforms for U.S. dioceses to follow in response to the sexual abuse crisis. The reforms fall under four categories:

1. Promote healing and reconciliation with victims/survivors of sexual abuse of minors.
2. Ensure an effective response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors.
3. Ensure accountability of the response to sexual abuse of minors.
4. Protect the faithful in the future.

The Diocese acted promptly to implement the Dallas Charter and compliance with the Charter remains a priority. Some highlights follow.

To promote healing and reconciliation, Bishop Foys has met individually with over 170 survivors since 2002, and he will meet with any survivors requesting a meeting.

In addition, the Diocese has established a Victim Assistance Coordinator to assist with the immediate pastoral care of survivors. The Diocese has established a Diocesan Review Board (“DRB”), which is comprised of mostly lay people not in the employ of the Diocese. The DRB advises the Bishop “in his assessment of allegations of sexual abuse of minors and in his determination of a cleric’s suitability for ministry.” (Dallas Charter, Art. 2). The DRB meets regularly.

Since 2002, in response to each and every complaint of sexual abuse of a minor received, the Diocese has offered paid professional counseling to the individual making the complaint. These offers of counseling have been made for cases of abuse whenever alleged to have occurred and regardless of whether the complaint has been substantiated.

To ensure an effective response, upon receiving an allegation of minor sexual abuse, the Diocese has immediately reported the allegation to appropriate civil authorities (typically the Commonwealth Attorney in the county in which the abuse is alleged to have occurred). Again, such reporting has been undertaken even for allegations of abuse in the distant past and regardless of whether the allegation has been substantiated.

Consistent with the Dallas Charter, when an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been received, a preliminary investigation is conducted promptly and objectively. If the complaint involves an active priest, precautionary measures are implemented (e.g., withdrawal of the accused from ministry or restricting residence), pending the outcome of the investigation.

Most importantly, a policy of zero tolerance is in effect. “[F]or even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor — whenever it occurred — which is admitted or established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon is to be permanently removed from ministry [“faculties removed”] and, if warranted, dismissed from the clerical state [“laicized”].” (Dallas Charter, Art. 5).

To ensure accountability, the Diocese submits to regular audits to ensure compliance with the Dallas Charter. These audits are conducted by an outside team of auditors at the direction of the National Review Board, which was established in 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Every year, the Diocese submits a completed audit questionnaire to the auditors, and an audit team periodically visits the Diocese for an intensive on-site audit. Since 2002, the Diocese has submitted to nine (9) on-site audits. Every audit has demonstrated the Diocese’s continued compliance with the Dallas Charter.

To protect the faithful, the Diocese has implemented mandatory background checks for all priests, deacons, staff and volunteers who work with children. Safe Environment policies, protocols and a code of conduct have been developed and are regularly updated.[2]

The Diocese’s Safe Environment Office – through the VIRTUS program – performs training and background checks of all priests, deacons, seminarians, employees and volunteers working in the Curia, parishes, schools and Catholic organizations. From 2003 to the present, 33,145 persons have completed the VIRTUS program. Additionally, children in Catholic schools and parish schools of religion are trained on how to identify and report inappropriate behavior by adults.

Most recently, the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service has been established to receive reports of sexual abuse and related misconduct by bishops and to relay those reports to proper Church authorities.[3] A link to the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service is available on the diocesan Safe Environment web page.

The Class Action (2003-2009)

In 2003, a lawsuit brought on behalf of all persons who had been sexually abused as a minor by a priest, religious, deacon or lay employee of the Diocese of Covington was certified by the Boone County Circuit Court as a class action. The class action was administered by the Court and scrutinized in a very public process.

In January 2006, after notice and a public hearing to determine whether a proposed settlement reached on behalf of the Class was “fair, reasonable, and adequate,” the settlement received final approval from the Court. The class settlement was open to anyone who had been sexually abused as a minor by a priest, religious or lay employee of the Diocese or any Diocesan parish or institution. For months following final approval of the settlement, media outlets and newspapers across the country, including the diocesan newspaper (the Messenger), published notice of the class settlement and instructions on what abuse victims needed to do to file a claim for compensation from the class settlement fund.

Over a period of three and a half years, all claims were reviewed by court-appointed Special Masters and awards totaling $81,231,500 were made from the Class Settlement Fund. The Special Masters made awards to claimants when they determined that a claim was supported by sufficient credible evidence to conclude that the abuse more likely than not occurred. Claimants were required to submit a sworn claim form, but not otherwise required to substantiate their claims. Awards were made in cases involving unknown priests and unnamed nuns and in cases where the only supporting evidence was the claimant’s sworn claim form.

On May 21, 2009, the court-appointed Settlement Master, retired federal district judge Thomas Lambros, filed a report with the Kentucky Attorney General (the “Lambros Report”). The Lambros Report consisted of an executive summary of the “credible incidents of sexual abuse” that were deemed established as to each abuser. The Kentucky Court of Appeals had earlier ruled that the Lambros Report need not include “deceased priests or employees of the Diocese.” Thus, the Lambros Report detailed abuse by individuals then living, and it was submitted to the Attorney General “for distribution to the appropriate commonwealth attorneys.”[4]

The Settlement Master filed his final report to the Court on May 27, 2009. The report noted that 400 claims had been processed. One additional claim was received and processed by the Special Masters after the final report was submitted, in accordance with the procedures approved by the Court.

On May 28, 2009, after finding that “the Diocese of Covington and Bishop Foys have fulfilled all of their obligations under their settlement agreement with the Doe Class and this Court’s orders regarding the class settlement and its administration,” the Court entered a final order of dismissal.

Compilation of the List

The file reviewers experienced varying degrees of difficulty in determining whether an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been substantiated. Some abusers had multiple victims and claims against them were relatively easy to substantiate. Other allegations were much more difficult to reliably assess, due to the passage of time, conflicting evidence, lack of evidence, absence of other allegations or claims against the accused, or one or more significant limiting factors.

Over the years, the Diocese has received some complaints of sexual abuse of minors that fall into the latter category. The Special Masters in the class action denied 148 claims (of the 400 filed) as not sufficiently credible to support an award or as outside the scope of the class.[5] Some claims the Special Masters considered credible enough to merit a monetary award were not deemed substantiated.

Current Diocesan Procedures

Anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct by a cleric, employee, religious or volunteer of the Diocese of Covington is asked to contact Ms. Margaret Schack, Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at (859) 392-1515. Professional assistance and pastoral support will be provided with confidentiality and respect. The Victim Assistance Coordinator is required to report allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to civil authorities. A victim may report allegations of sexual abuse directly to civil authorities as follows.

Reporting CURRENT abuse of MINORS or VULNERABLE ADULTS to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Division of Protection and Permanency, (877) 597-2331.

Boone County (859) 371-8832 Harrison County (859) 234-3884
Bracken County (606) 735-2195 Kenton County (859) 292-6340
Campbell County (859) 292-6733 Lewis County (606) 796-2981
Carroll County (502) 732-6681 Mason County (606) 564-6818
Fleming County (606) 845-2381 Owen County (502) 484-3937
Gallatin County (859) 567-7381 Pendleton County (859) 654-3381
Grant County (859) 824-4471 Robertson County (859) 724-5413

Reporting ADULTS who were abused as MINORS to the
Commonwealth Attorney.

Boone County (859) 586-1723 Harrison County (859) 235-0387
Bracken County (606) 564-4304 Kenton County (859) 292-6580
Campbell County (859) 292-6490 Lewis County (606) 473-7978
Carroll County (502) 732-6688 Mason County (606) 564-4304
Fleming County (606) 564-4304 Owen County (502) 732-6688
Gallatin County (859) 586-1723 Pendleton County (859) 235-0387
Grant County (859) 732-6688 Robertson County (859) 235-0387

It is preferable that you call the county in which the abuse allegedly occurred.

Additional resources:

Kentucky Child Abuse Hotline
1-800-752-6200
National Child Abuse Hotline
1-800-422-4453
Indiana Child Abuse Hotline
1-800-800-5556
Kentucky Sex Offender Registry
http://kspsor.state.ky.us/
Ohio Child Abuse Hotline
1-855-642-4453

1 The Dallas Charter was updated in 2005, 2011 and 2018. A copy may be found at www.usccb.org
2 The Diocese’s booklet entitled “Creating a Safe Environment, Policies and Procedures for Addressing Sexual Misconduct” may be found at www.covdio.org.
3 More information can be found at ReportBishopAbuse.org.
4 Since May 2009, the Diocese has received no claims of present day sexual abuse against a minor by a priest.
5 The class action process provided that a claimant could appeal the Special Masters’ decision to an Appeal Master and, further, to the Circuit Court.

Diocese of Covington releases requirements, guidelines for opening of schools

Messenger Staff Report

After months of intense discernment and discussion the Diocese of Covington Department of Catholic Schools has released information on how the nine Catholic high schools and 30 elementary schools and pre-schools will open next month. The 13-page document entitled “COVID-19 Return to School Requirements” was e-mailed to all priests and principals July 23 and is available online here.

The document contains requirements that must be implemented and guidelines that share best practices on ways to implement the requirements. Requirements include a daily health self-assessment of each employee, teacher and student prior to coming to school, temperature checks upon arrival, the wearing of face coverings in common areas, marking safe social distance of six feet in hallways and classrooms and increased hygiene and sanitization. Guidelines include staggering lunches and recesses to accommodate social distancing and extending dismissal to avoid students and parents congregating at the end of the day.

“We share the common value of educating our students in a safe and faith-filled community,” said Mike Clines, superintendent of schools. “I am confident that by working together we will be able to achieve that goal even during this health crisis. Discipline and cooperation are hallmarks of a Catholic school community. With the grace of God, I am confident that our school communities will come together to be committed guardians of each other by implementing these requirements in an atmosphere of discipline, cooperation and Christian love.”

A sub-committee led by Mr. Clines and Kendra McGuire, associate superintendent of Catholic Schools, and made up of priests, Curia members, principals, medical doctors and attorneys helped to create the COVID-19 Return to School Requirements document. The document is based on the most up-to-date information from various sources including, but not limited to, the Kentucky Department of Health, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Centers for Disease Control, along with the guidance of the Diocesan Coronavirus Taskforce.

“I thank everyone who has helped develop the COVID-19 Return to School Requirements,” said Mrs. McGuire. “As an administrator and parent I share the concerns of many of our families. I am grateful that our school families have chosen to entrust their child’s academic and spiritual education to our Catholic school system and look forward to a safe and blessed school year.”

As new information is received from health and government officials, there may be updates to these regulations that will be communicated following a review from the task force.

Start of schools delayed until August 17

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Covington are postponing the start of in-person instruction by one week. Due to increasing cases of COVID-19, Governor Andy Beshear requested, July 27, that all Kentucky schools delay the start of in-person instruction until, on or after August 17. Catholic schools in the diocese were scheduled to open the week of August 10.

“We are going to honor Governor Beshear’s recommendation and are postponing the school start dates by one week,” said Mike Clines, superintendent of Catholic schools. “Our number one priority is the health and education of our students. Our principals, faculties and staffs have been working hard and are prepared to welcome students back in the classroom. I invite everyone to join us in making the health and education of our children a priority by following the best practices that have been identified to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.”

Parish Kitchen opens for lunch at new location

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

The Parish Kitchen, now operated on Madison Ave., a mile south of its former Pike Street location, opened for lunch July 20. It’s still serving to-go meals 11:30 a.m. –1:30 p.m. daily, this week for the first time at the new site. About 150 guests received meals July 20, with many saying it’s now a closer walk from where they live.

“I like it, it’s a lot better than up there,” said one guest. “It seems a lot bigger. It’s very nice.”

Manager Maria Meyer said the first week is off to a great start, thanks to the support of staff and volunteers and cooperation from the guests. “We are happy to see old familiar faces from the Pike Street location as well as many new faces,” she said. “We look forward to the day when we can invite our guests inside our warm welcoming dining room.”

Another guest, Linda, said the new location gave her an opportunity to revisit the street where she used to live 25 years ago. “I think it’s wonderful. I believe what you folks are doing for folks like us is awesome. It’s wonderful that you’re taking your time to take care of our needs and I believe in that.”

“The new location will provide us ample space to continue Parish Kitchen’s ministry 46 years in the making,” said Ms. Meyer. “We are grateful for the support of the community, our volunteers and donors for making our dream a reality.”

Bishop praises priests and people as he reflects on episcopacy

Laura Keener, Editor.

On July 27, Bishop Roger Foys will celebrate his 75th birthday and, as required by Canon law, submit his resignation to the Holy Father. As the date approaches, the Messenger sat down with Bishop Foys to talk about the process of getting a new bishop, to review his accomplishments and to share his thoughts about his episcopacy and the people of the Diocese of Covington. Also, this edition highlights the work of the Curia and its staff who have assisted Bishop Foys throughout his episcopacy.

Q. On July 27 you will celebrate you 75th birthday and will be submitting your resignation letter to the Apostolic Nuncio. Why is that and what is the process of naming a new bishop?

A. On a bishop’s 75th birthday he, by Canon law, sends his resignation to the Apostolic Nuncio who communicates it to the Holy Father. Once a bishop sends his letter, a number of things can happen. The Holy Father might accept it immediately, for example because of health reasons. Or the Holy Father can say “I accept your resignation and it will be effective once the new bishop is named”; that bishop would then stay on as the bishop. A bishop could also ask that his resignation be accepted immediately, most often for reasons of health. So there is no clear-cut, one size fits all. If the Holy Father accepts the resignation and it’s effective when the successor is named, then the process begins for naming the new bishop — that process can take anywhere from four months to a year.

Q. As you prepare to submit your letter of resignation, what’s on your heart and mind?

A. People ask me, “Will you miss being the bishop?” The short answer is, I will still be a bishop. Once my resignation is accepted I won’t be an active bishop in the sense of administering the diocese. As far as the administration is concerned, that’s a part of being a diocesan bishop that is for some bishops, and it is for me, difficult because it’s a thin line sometimes between being a pastor and a CEO or COO.

What’s on my heart? I will miss the pastoral side of the episcopacy. I will miss parish visits, I will miss confirmations — I will still go to festivals.

I will still make myself available for pastoral work — pastoral work I haven’t had the chance to do because of the demands of the episcopacy. I recently blessed the Parish Kitchen, and that’s the kind of thing I would like to do, to help out at a place like Parish Kitchen or to fill in when priests need help, when they are on vacation or not well. So I will still be involved in pastoral ministry directly to the people.

What’s on my mind is that I hope that I did a good job. I hope I fulfilled the role of the ministry of bishop to God’s people. It’s a complicated ministry. For example, the ministry of the bishop to his priests; he’s called to be father, brother, teacher and friend. That relationship has been strained among bishops and priests since the onset of the sexual abuse crisis in terms of the trust between a bishop and a priest. The lines are very clear cut what bishops have to do — should do — and because of that, trust between priests and bishop has eroded some. That’s always been a struggle because a bishop is called in Canon Law to be especially kind to priests who are in trouble. Depending on what the trouble is, that can be a challenge. In the end, when I stand before the throne of God, I hope to say that I did the best I could.

Q. What’s the state of the diocese right now?

A. Overall the diocese is doing more than holding its own — I think the diocese is thriving. We have been blessed with good priests, good religious and good people. In 2002, when I first came and we faced the sexual abuse crisis — one of the very first dioceses to face it head on — the state of the diocese was tenuous. All of this was coming out in the open and it was horrific and embarrassing, but our people responded in such a generous way. I don’t mean just financially but just a generous and accepting way with compassion. Now I think the diocese is thriving.

Q. You did a lot of building projects. How were you able to afford to do those? Are we in debt?

A. The diocese itself is debt free. There is some debt on the parishes and schools that did some of these building projects but all of the building projects that we did as a diocese, for example the Curia building, those are all paid for. We could afford it through the generosity of God’s people and their pride in their schools and the pride in their parishes.

Q. Which projects are you most proud of?

A. I am proud of them all, I really am. Each of them has its own reason for having been built, remodeled or renovated and for that parish or school it’s something they are proud of. I am just so proud of the entire diocese that has done this remarkable amount of renovation and building in really a short amount of time to expend $190,000,000.

Q. You did establish some new departments at the Curia, obviously Buildings and Properties. How has that helped the diocese?

A. We would never have been able to do as much building and renovation as successfully as we have without the Buildings and Properties Office. Buildings and Properties Office put together a Building Commission that reviews all plans and looks for the best value that we can get, while at the same time not taking shortcuts. It’s also given us the ability to plan for the future. Some places — and every diocese and parish is like this — we had differed maintenance. That is one of the worst things because you can get to the point where buildings are so deteriorated that a parish comes close to closing or the school is no longer safe. This office has been able to keep us abreast of everything that needs to be done on a regular basis.

Q. When you arrived, Pro-Life ministry was a part of the Family Life department and now it is its own office. How has this ministry grown?

A. As we studied the different ministries in which we were engaged it became clear to me that we needed a greater focus on our pro-life ministry. It is for this reason, and at the request of what had been the Pro-Life Commission without status as a full-fledged diocesan office, that we initiated a Pro-Life Office with a director and a staff. This office has done a remarkable job in promoting pro-life and respect for life at all its stages. It has engaged in this ministry not only locally but also nationally. Pro-life and respect for all life is basic to our belief as Christian Catholics.

Q. One of the biggest accomplishments under Spiritual Works is the Synod. Do you feel like the Synod met its purpose?

A. Yes and no. I think that the Synod brought people from all over the diocese together. The Synod enabled people to look at the diocese and look at the Church, to study the documents that cover the entire life of the diocese — the spiritual life and the material life. For the Synod itself — when we gathered so many people and voted for the Synod documents — the Cathedral was filled. In that respect it was a huge success. What was disappointing was the census. It was just a very difficult time. We were in the throes of the sex abuse crisis and we did not do as well as I had hoped with the census part of the Synod. The census would have given us a clearer indication on what we needed to do in terms of establishing new parishes. Aside from that, the Synod gave us direction — all of the objectives and goals were achieved — and now we have an annual plan that was born of the Synod. It’s time, I think, for a sixth Synod of the diocese, but I will leave that to my successor.

Q. Many of our urban parishes were challenged to do things that I don’t know that they even thought they could do and yet they have done it. How did that happen?

A. In a lot of dioceses, people in urban parishes are just waiting for their church to close and they have no hope. When you give people hope and you give them some assurance that they have meaning and are providing a ministry and a service to others, then they take ownership of their church. That’s why our urban core parishes were able to thrive. First, they were led by pastors who believed in them. Then the parishioners began to believe in themselves. They know their history, which is a rich history of all our parishes and schools, and they want to keep that alive. I don’t think they want to walk out either. They don’t want to say, “I’m the last one out, shut the lights.” These parishes have been around for a long time and they have all held their own.

Q. Bringing Bishop Maes home to the Cathedral, are you glad you did it?

A. I have no regrets about bringing Bishop Maes’ remains back to the Cathedral. He didn’t build the Cathedral as a testament or a monument to himself. He says clearly that he built it for the people of the entire diocese and not just the Catholic people, but all the people. He had come to love Covington. He wanted the Cathedral to be the center of Covington, a place where people could come and pray and see art; a place that would lift people’s minds and hearts to God. For me that’s what our Cathedral does. It goes back to the faith of our people — they sacrificed a great deal to build this monument to God. I felt moved to bring his remains back to the Cathedral he built out of love of God and for the people of this community — Covington.

Q. What’s it like celebrating Mass with Bishop Maes there?

A. From the bishop’s chair you can see directly into the crypt and see his image on top of the sarcophagus. I am very conscious that his remains are there. I never hesitate at any Mass to pray for him and ask him to pray for us. It has changed the way I look at the Cathedral. It was like bringing him home. I was touched to see the Cathedral filled for his requiem Mass; that spoke very highly of God’s people.

Q. How has ministering through the pandemic given you a deeper appreciation for the Church?

A. Ministering through the pandemic has been a real struggle for all of our priests and people and for me. The weeks we were not able to have public celebration of the Mass, were the worst. The most difficult decision I had to make in my life was to suspend Mass — I was the last bishop in the area to do so — because I denied people the Eucharist. As magnificent as our Cathedral is, preaching to an empty Cathedral left a real hole in my heart. Having daily Mass privately in my chapel was difficult because I was doing something that I had denied my people. I was celebrating Eucharist and receiving the Eucharist and I could not do that for the people to whom I minister. Having been denied the privilege of having people in Church heightened my compassion for God’s people and has, really for me, made much more real the fact that the Church is living, breathing people. It is the people of God who make the Church come alive and make the Church beautiful.

Q. You have ordained 41 priests for the Diocese of Covington. Did you ever have any doubts that you would be able to get vocations?

A. I never doubted that we would get vocations. I have preached all my priesthood that the vocations are there; we have to look for them and encourage them. The Lord promised he would never leave us without shepherds. So we began in earnest a vocations program that reached out to people in the parishes — we had people praying for vocations. Success always breeds success and vocations started to come. When I see that I have ordained 67 percent of the active priests in the diocese, it is a very humbling thing. When a bishop ordains a priest, that priest is his spiritual son. When the candidate puts his hands in the bishop’s hands and promises respect and obedience, that’s a two-way street; the bishop is also promising to support and care for this priest who is now his son. Early on I was encouraged to close parishes, to consolidate parishes because we don’t have enough priests. The answer was not to close parishes, the answer is to build and you build by encouraging vocations. I attribute that to our priests and people who prayed for vocations and encouraged vocations.

Q. What are the needs of the diocese now?

A. It’s time for a new confirmation homily. I have preached a confirmation homily that is very similar, if not identical, at every confirmation. People are kind to me; they still comment on it. I try to involve the candidates and find out where they are at this time in their life. Someone questioned why I preach the same homily … because it works. The Gospel is the Gospel. The Gospel message is simply that God loves us. I could find 150 different ways to say it but that’s the Gospel and that’s what I preach. One of my joys has been confirming the over 21,500 confirmation candidates. It’s wonderful to see the excitement in their faces. They have the rest of their life ahead of them and to have empowered them with the grace of the Holy Spirit is a real grace. The Holy Spirit works through all of us. I see the Holy Spirit working through the candidates, their parents and sponsors and it gives me great hope for the Church.

Q. What are things that you think the next bishop will need to work on?

A. When you are in a place for any length of time you don’t always see what needs to be done. I have every confidence that he will see what needs to be done. He will inherit a wonderful presbyterate, laity, staff and consecrated religious. I have no doubt at all that there have been deficiencies in my ministry in the last 18 years and he will see what those are. The Scripture tells us that one man plants, another one waters, another one sees the plant come to fruition — it’s going to be that way.

Q. You are very available to the Curia staff, celebrating baptisms, weddings and house blessings. You often mention that they are your family. Can you elaborate on your relationship with the Curia staff?

A. I will miss working with the Curia staff. I have come to look at them as my family. Working in the Curia, for our staff, is not just a job. The Curia exists to help our parishes and our schools. Unfortunately the Curia is not always appreciated outside of the Curia. I see them day in and day out and I know what they do and I know how committed they are. They are my family, we have shared good times together, we’ve shared bad times together; we have shared successes and we have shared some failures. However, I have found in my 18 years here that they have always been very supportive of me and of our work and our mission. I have tried to be as supportive as I can to them. We work together and we pray together — we are family. I really and truly will miss them. My successor is inheriting a wonderful staff and I hope he comes to know them as a family as I have. I will never forget the wonderful people of the Curia.

Q. How were you able to accomplish all of the work that has been done?

A. I can’t take credit for all of this. What makes me feel good about the work that’s been done is that it is the work of so many priests, deacons, lay people and religious. It’s what happens when God’s people come together and work together.

Bishop Foys blesses new Parish Kitchen, set to open July 20

Laura Keener, Editor.

Sixteen months after having acquired the property on the corner of Madison Ave. and 16th Street, Covington, renovations of the new location of the Parish Kitchen have been completed. During a small ceremony, July 10, attended by Board Members of the Parish Kitchen and Catholic Charities, Diocese of Covington, Bishop Roger Foys blessed and dedicated the building. Don Knochelmann and Brian Harvey of the diocesan Buildings and Properties Office oversaw the project and were also in attendance.

“I am so pleased that we will be able to continue our ministry at the new Parish Kitchen on Madison Ave.,” said Bishop Foys. “The new venue is a vast improvement on the former one and will provide those who come for a meal with a pleasant atmosphere and at the same time show them the respect they deserve. I am so very grateful to all who were instrumental in making this move as well as to our many volunteers who continue to make it possible for us to engage in this important ministry. We call to mind the words of Jesus that whoever gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, gives it to Him.”

Finishing touches are being made at the new Parish Kitchen. It is anticipated that service will begin on July 20. Alan Pickett, executive director, Catholic Charities, said that staff who at first seemed overwhelmed by the vastness of the move, are now excited to continue its ministry of providing lunch 365 days a year to the local hungry.

“Bishop Foys was courageous and bold to buy the building at a time when the city was giving us very few options and were restrictive in where they would allow us to relocate,” Mr. Pickett said.

The need to relocate the Parish Kitchen was coming from both inside and outside the facility. The existing building itself is older and in need of renovations and the neighborhood where it is located has seen some major redevelopment, pushing the demographic of the people served at the Parish Kitchen to other locations.

“We’ve been getting more acclimated to the new neighborhood and we’ve connected with some of the nearby ministries that we know serve the same people we want to serve,” said Mr. Pickett.

Among the other ministries that will be nearby are The Rose Garden Home Mission and its medical and dental Center for Hope and Healing (both operated by the Franciscan Daughters of Mary), the Life Learning Center, Healthpoint, the Career Center and Madison Avenue Christian Church.

“All of these organizations and ministries focus on the same mission and serve the same people,” said Mr. Pickett.
Manager Maria Meyer said she’s excited to open up the new space because it will help people who walk into the clean and renovated space feel dignified. “I think it’s going to be a warm and welcoming space for the guests,” she said. “We’ll also have new equipment that will help us expand our menu more to offer healthier options and a larger variety of food.”

Ms. Meyer also made it clear that the move wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of volunteers and donors. “We’re very grateful for the volunteers who helped us move and continue to serve during the move,” she said.

The new building will have about 20 percent more seating capacity, once regulations from the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted and inside seating at the Parish Kitchen is able to resume. Right now, the Parish Kitchen will continue to offer carry-out meals.

“One of the elements of our ministry that has been impactful is the interaction we have with guests who sit down with us and eat. But we haven’t been able to share that part of ministry over these last few months and we won’t be able to immediately in this new location,” said Mr. Pickett. “It’s disappointing. Hungry people are fed but having that interaction and being able to offer that safe place of respite from the world on the street is a piece that’s still missing. In the face of adversity we have had to make adjustments and do what we can.”

The new facility also has meeting rooms that were not available at the current building. This will allow the Parish Kitchen to identify and provide some unmet needs to their guests as well as to continue its collaboration with St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s Faith Community nursing program.

“Since July 2019, Faith Community volunteer nurses from St. Elizabeth Health Ministry have provided health screenings and case management to many of our guests at Parish Kitchen,” said Mr. Pickett.

The services from Faith Community are free to all guests, and were offered weekly until the pandemic prevented guests from coming inside Parish Kitchen.

With any move there is transition, and the Parish Kitchen is no exception. Some current guests for whom the existing location was more convenient may not be able to make the move if they do not have transportation or the ability to walk the one mile to the new location. Others who did not know about the Parish Kitchen may become new guests or volunteers.

“There will be some transition and we will have to make adjustments but we won’t know what that is until we get there and experience it,” said Mr. Pickett.

One thing that will not change is the Parish Kitchen’s mission, which began in 1974 in the basement of Mother of God Church, Covington.

“We are called to serve the poor, anyone looking for a meal or respite from the outdoors,” said Mr. Pickett.

Masks

COVID-19: A healthcare issue, say local experts with recommendations

Laura Keener, Editor.

As discussions continue about the best way to provide a safe community — especially school communities — amid the COVID-19 pandemic, administrators, teachers and parents can find themselves in a jungle of confusing, conflicting and oftentimes incorrect information. To help weed out fact from fiction, the Messenger turned to the doctors of the Diocese of Covington’s own St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

Dr. Holly Danneman, St. Elizabeth Healthcare Family Medicine Residency, and Dr. Chanti Flanagan, hospitalist, director of Hospital Medicine, and chairman of Medicine, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, answered questions about what has been learned about the COVID-19 virus since March (when the virus was first reported in Kentucky) and some simple, common sense ways — based on science — to help keep communities safe and operating.

Both doctors agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic is a health care issue and encourage people — especially parents — to be looking for accurate information based on science from their trusted healthcare professionals.

“People’s unwillingness to accept this as a health issue and not a political issue could potentially affect our ability to get our children back in the classroom and decrease transmission,” said Dr. Danneman.

For both doctors, their commitment and interest in healthy families and communities is not just clinical. In addition to being doctors, Dr. Flanagan and Dr. Danneman are also wives and mothers.

“I’m a wife, a mother and a doctor, those are my priorities,” said Dr. Danneman. “As a parent, I want desperately for my children to get back to school for lots of reasons. First, they need that education from their teachers. People are also saying that the mental health of our children is important and they need to be back at school and playing athletics and I absolutely agree. But we also have to keep in mind that in order to be able to do so and to do so safely, we are going to have to follow a few safety measures. These are small sacrifices on our part to allow for all the things we want for our community and our children.”

Those safety measures, they say, are based on what healthcare professionals and scientists know about the coronavirus and its spread.

An important finding is that the virus is aerosolized, meaning that it is spread through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets are released simply by breathing. The rate of release increases by talking, yelling, singing, coughing and sneezing. And, Dr. Flanagan said, “We know that people who do not have symptoms can still spread the disease. Additionally, the amount of virus seems to peak three days before one would develop symptoms.”

In Kentucky, — a state praised for its efforts in mitigating the spread of the virus — as of June 29, 15,347 coronavirus cases have been reported and 560 Kentuckians have died from complications from the virus.

“I have spent countless hours preparing for how to handle the ‘what ifs,’” said Dr. Flanagan. “Along with my colleagues and associates, I have taken care of patients that died from coronavirus. And while the numbers of deaths are much lower than predicted, those that died were not just numbers. That struck me very early on in the pandemic — someone lost a loved one, a husband or wife, a mom or dad, a daughter or son, a friend.”

As serious and contagious as the coronavirus is, the good news, according to Drs. Danneman and Flanagan and other healthcare professionals and scientists, is that there are simple measures that everyone can take that have a large impact on keeping themselves and others safe while also slowing the spread of the virus.

Several of these of practices have been identified since the very beginning of the pandemic and are based on what the healthcare and scientific communities know in general about mitigating infectious diseases.
— Washing hands frequently and for 20 seconds.
— Maintaining a safe social distance of six feet apart from another person.
— Avoiding large crowds.

When it was determined that the coronavirus was indeed aerosolized, healthcare professionals also began recommending wearing masks or face coverings for adults and children over the age of 2.

“In order to keep our community healthy and slow the spread of the virus, masking in public is highly advised. Face masks, along with the other preventative measures, can help slow the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Flanagan. “The mask protects large droplets from evaporating and turning into smaller droplets that can travel farther in the air. Without the mask, especially during those three pre-symptomatic days, a person with the COVID-19 could infect several people by just speaking.”

And while the general population seems to have accepted the wisdom of the first three protocols, mask wearing has become a flashpoint that is dividing the nation and carrying with it a lot of misinformation.

Drs. Danneman and Flanagan both say that mask wearing is a safe practice for almost everyone — including children over the age of two. There may be some people with respiratory illnesses whose physician would advise not to wear a mask. Anyone concerned about their personal safety when wearing a mask should contact their physician.

“The health risk of using a mask is extremely low,” said Dr. Danneman. “We recommend people to wear masks wisely. If you are using a cloth mask wash it appropriately and if you are using a disposable surgical mask, use those responsibly as well.”

“I would go back to our surgical friends who have been wearing masks for decades to protect themselves,” said Dr. Flanagan.

“In healthcare, we as physicians have been wearing masks for hours and hours a day, for years upon years and our health is absolutely fine when it comes to wearing a mask,” Dr. Danneman said.

Dr. Flanagan said that masks are uncomfortable at times, especially at first or when it’s extremely warm. “But sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the better of our community,” she said.

Dr. Danneman agreed.

“We as Christians and Catholics are called to not just take care of ourselves or our immediate family. We have a bigger calling and what we are doing will affect people we will never see.”

Dr. Flanagan empathized with the fatigue that many people are experiencing while dealing with the demands and restrictions brought on by the virus.

“We are all tired of this. We are all beyond ready for this pandemic to be over,” she said. “If you only want to wear a mask when absolutely necessary, remember that your risk of contracting the virus (and potentially spreading to your loved ones) is dependent both on the amount of virus in the air and the duration of exposure. Simply put, situations where you are less than six feet apart for a significant amount of time in small indoor condensed areas, the wearing of a mask is strongly recommended.”

Dr. Danneman said that she is encouraged by the response of many people in their sincerity and concern for others. Some have suggested that society can best conquer the pandemic through herd immunity. With herd immunity, 70 to 90 percent of a population would need to contract the virus and recover, building up the community’s immunity so that the remaining population would be protected. The problem is, many people who contract the virus would not recover. Dr. Danneman said there are better ways for this pandemic to end.

“I truly do believe we will get back to life as normal,” said Dr. Danneman. “We will have more of an awareness about the ease of the spread of infectious disease —that will always stay with us — but we will get back to normal. It will just take some sacrifice and by sacrifice I do not mean the sacrifice of lives. I am not willing to sacrifice the lives of other people to develop herd immunity when there are other ways for us to take care of this and that involves sacrifice and responsibility.”

Outreach Ministry finds new home to serve community

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

“I’m the only priest in the diocese who lives in a grocery store,” said Msgr. William Cleves. But the joy radiating from him and his volunteers that run the Outreach Ministry at Holy Spirit Parish, Newport, shows that he’s far from complaining about giving up his space.

For the last two years, the food pantry of the Outreach Ministry has operated out of Msgr. Cleves’ rectory, spilling over into every aspect of his daily life. But come July, the parish is opening a new building across from the Parish Center.

The new building is in its final stages before the move on July 1. Msgr. Cleves hopes to have it open by July 6 so the parish can keep serving the community on Mondays and Tuesdays. The new building will house the food pantry, which currently provides families in need with groceries, including fresh vegetables from the parish garden. The Outreach Center also offers spiritual reading from a small mobile library box.

The parish has been looking for a place for the Outreach Center for two years, but wasn’t able to match pricing, size and availability until it decided to build its own. The parish bought the house next door on a double lot, which butts up against the parking lot. They renovated the home to be an office space, and constructed another building for the pantry, which connects to the office by means of a staircase.

The parish is excited for the move, to finally have their own space. The ministry initially started about eight blocks away in Corpus Christi Church, then rented from the First Baptist Church at 8th St. and York St. for at least 10 years, and moved to the rectory two years ago when the church changed ownership.

Currently, the food is stored in scrupulously organized racks throughout the rectory. It is then packaged into bags by 6-7 daily volunteers from the parish, and distributed in the left corner of the church by volunteers, now with careful adherence to social distancing. The volunteers guide visitors to different stations, organized according to food group, such as boxes of fresh produce, bags of bread and cereal, cleaning products and frozen foods.

Any resident of Campbell County who is in need is welcome to stop by and pick up supplies. Connie Getz, one of the head volunteers, explained that normally volunteers check IDs to ensure residence in the county, since the parish mission serves in conjunction with the government. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re serving anyone who comes by and is in need, regardless of residence.

The pantry is open Monday and Tuesday 9 a.m.– 1 p.m.

Mrs. Getz, a retired teacher, and Mike Wagner run the operation, organizing volunteers and carefully charting what supplies come in and out. Volunteers take care of the four-year-old community garden, which employs a drip irrigation system.

Mrs. Getz said they help about 300-350 families a month. That can vary from four families a day to many more. They hand out government food, community donations and donations left on the doorstep of the rectory.

The parish also communicates with Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul Society to help local families with gas, electric, rent and utility bills.

“We help pay them once every six months if they are past due and we have the funds,” said Mrs. Getz. Currently St. Vincent de Paul is providing monetary assistance while the Outreach Center concentrates on the move.

The parish as a whole has been challenged to sacrifice for the poor. As someone who has always been in academia, Msgr. Cleves said this is the first time he’s had the chance to really delve into social ministry.

“It brings us together as a parish,” he said, telling the story of the parish’s homeless friend Carl who lived on the front porch of the rectory for four years. People took care of Carl, he came to Mass every day, and the parish “kind of rallied around him — that was an eye-opener for many parishioners.”

“Ministry to the poor isn’t something optional that you add on top of what you’re already doing — it’s part of the core,” said Msgr. Cleves. “Here’s how it becomes real.”

With supplies sprawling into Monsignor’s kitchen, garage and taking over his basement library, Msgr. Cleves and his congregation have learned to embody the charism of joy from sacrifice. When asked about giving up some 3,000 books from his library to make room for the pantry, he said, “People will be able to read them at St. Ann’s Mission, where I donated them. We all have to give up something, and the needs of the poor are certainly much more urgent than my desire for books.”

“This is the work of many hands and it pulls us together,” he said.

The Outreach Ministry building hopes to open by July 6 after their move the week before. There, they will continue the good work that has been done by those determined to provide for their community.

Diocesan schools look forward to welcoming students back to campus in August

Laura Keener, Editor.

The news teachers, parents and students have been waiting for has been announced. The second week of August is the week when Catholic schools in the Diocese of Covington will begin in-person instruction for the 2020–2021 school year.

Since mid-May, Michael Clines, superintendent of Schools, and Kendra McGuire, associate superintendent, have been meeting weekly with elementary and high school principals to discuss the opening of the school year and the return to in-classroom instruction.

“It has been clear from our discussions that what we all want — teachers, parents and administrators — is to have in-person instruction,” Mr. Clines said. “Our Catholic school community has been working together to find a safe way to bring our students back into the classrooms, and we are excited about getting them back on our campuses.”

Due to construction, two schools — St. Thomas School, Ft. Thomas and St. Joseph Academy, Walton — will delay the start of the school year until the end of August. All the other 26 elementary and nine high schools will begin August 10–14.

“We are looking into how things may be scheduled, but our students will be back in school,” said Mrs. McGuire.

Principals from all of the schools together with Mr. Clines and Mrs. McGuire make up the diocesan schools task force. They meet weekly to discuss the Northern Kentucky Health Department and CDC guidelines on remaining Healthy at School during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We started with two questions. Can you logistically have in-person instruction while meeting health department guidelines? And if there are interruptions with busing, will parents be able to provide private transportation,” said Mr. Clines. “Having answered those questions, we are now ready to move on to alternate learning design strategies and other topics. That’s where we are now.”

Since each school has similar but unique needs and resources, each school has its own task force that is working on how best to implement the guidelines — social distancing, scheduling, lunches, and the myriad of other details that will need to be managed.

“Our schools and their task force are working on measuring rooms and looking at how to fit students in and various schedules. Once they’ve collected all the information, they’ll begin with problem solving and decision making. Many are in the very early stages, just meeting for the first time last week,” said Mrs. McGuire.
Schools are also working on ways to provide synchronous alternative instruction for parents who feel their child should remain Healthy at Home.

“We are working to make that a possibility for them,” said Mrs. McGuire. “There will probably be some parents who might need that option.”

Parents will begin to receive information from their school about the 2020–2021 school year and are encouraged to register early as accommodations are being developed.