New location for Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky a ‘big step’ in addressing homelessness

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

After 12 years, Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky (ESNKY) announced Jan. 8 in conjunction with Kenton County and St. Elizabeth Healthcare that it will be opening doors to a new location in Covington to better assist the homeless.

St. Elizabeth purchased the new property, located at 436 West 13th St., on Dec. 10, 2019, from Steffen’s Tool Rental. St. Elizabeth, which had been providing an urgent care center in ESNKY for the last year, then transferred ownership to Kenton County Dec. 31, which will be operating the shelter under an agreement with ESNKY.

It’s been a long road for ESNKY since it began operating out of Scott Street in 2008. The current location, an old health center, was always meant to be temporary, according to Kim Webb, executive director.

The need for a more appropriate building became apparent this winter. With stricter enforcement of fire codes and occupancy laws, October saw a drastic reduction in the facility’s ability to provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness. While in previous winters ESNKY could shelter 75 guests, new code enforcement allows for only 32. Mrs. Webb said she hoped they would get an allowance because the fire board gives local jurisdictions the ability to make exceptions.

“We were the place the police could bring someone all hours of the night,” she explained. Unfortunately, the exception was not granted and this winter has been a strain on the center.

The new location will drastically improve the way the center operates. Geographically, it’s closer to the hospital, the Kenton County Government Center, the new Parish Kitchen and the Career Vocational Center. It is also still on a bus line.

Internally, Mrs. Webb said it’s like having an open canvas to design.

“A building’s size doesn’t make it large or small. Our building here is larger than it seems because it’s so cut up.”

Community donated supplies, beds and non-commercial blankets will make a new home for the center’s guests, designed to suit its purpose with 24-hour sheltering during extreme temperatures, daytime operations like shower and laundry facilities, a kitchen and space for community partners. Instead of one shower, one washer and one dryer for up to 81 guests on a cold night, the new space can be developed to better meet the needs of the community.

There will also be rooms for counseling, mental health services, career coaching and more thorough health services through St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

Mrs. Webb said she hopes the new center will be open in time for next winter.

“We’re going to use this (the current) space this winter and for our summer operations until we get the building designed and ready to go by late 2020, November or December,” she said.

Until then, ESNKY will continue to send overflow guests to places such as the Salvation Army and local churches, like Mother of God in downtown Covington.

Mrs. Webb said the shelter truly couldn’t operate without support and leadership from the community, and the will of everyone involved.

About ESNKY’s new home, Bishop Roger Foys said, “In this day and age we too often forget those who are not as fortunate as many people and who have need of something as important as the Emergency Shelter. The Emergency Shelter is a blessing to our community and I am so grateful to all those who in any way have helped to find a new home for it.”

For Mrs. Webb, it’s simply a matter of human dignity. “I try to look at their situation as if I were in it. What would it look like if I were in that neighborhood? What would I want to see? Then I’ll work hard to alleviate those fears and anxieties.”

“Everybody deserves to have a bed to sleep in,” she said.

Kenton County Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann has been the driving political force behind the new location. He was thrilled that all parties were finally able to come together and accomplish a long-time goal.

“They’re already offering many of these services but they just don’t have the space,” he said. “Once you have the space, then you can start inviting partners in to meet with guests and clients and get them help.”

Mr. Knochelmann sees it as a huge step for bolstering a thriving working population.

“We’ve got all the pieces in the region,” he said. “With the new shelter location, they can kind of be a navigating point.”

He cited a report begun a year and a half ago on the homeless population in Northern Kentucky. Agencies partnered with the state and various cities to gather information.

For the first time, data collected proves that “it’s not a Covington problem, not a joblessness problem,” said Mr. Knochelmann. He instead referenced a region-wide issue that won’t just disappear overnight. “All that data filled into a willingness to say ‘okay, let’s not keep talking a circle around the edges of this issue, let’s actually move forward.’ And this is the first big step.”

He doesn’t want the action to stop here, with the new emergency shelter building. In the story of homelessness, this is just one victory and he intends to keep driving forward discussion for solutions.

“It opens up the bigger discussion around what are we doing in Northern Kentucky to effectively impact the immediate homeless population and do this long term,” he said.

Parents advocate for scholarship tax credits

Laura Keener, Editor.

Two local women — Cassandra Behanan and Nancy Deaton — will be traveling to Frankfort, Jan. 27, along with many others, for the Celebrating School Choice rally. The rally takes place during National School Choice Week, Jan. 26–Feb. 1. Neither claim to be very political, but both share the same passion for school choice and support scholarship tax credit legislation.

Scholarship tax credits would allow individuals or businesses to receive a state tax credit for contributing to a qualified non-profit organization — like the Diocese’s Alliance for Catholic Urban Education — that provide financial aid, or scholarships, to lower income families who choose a non-public school for their child.

Ms. Behanan works in the cafeteria at Zion Christian Academy (ZCA), Florence. She is the mother of five children; two adult children live on their own; her third oldest attends Northern Kentucky University and she has two children in primary school. With only one scholarship available to her at ZCA, Ms. Behanan made the difficult decision to have her youngest child join her at ZCA while keeping her middle-school aged son at the local public school.

“When I started working here and I saw how the school was run and how the children were learning, just the consistency, I thought if I couldn’t get both of them here right now, at least I could get one here,” Ms. Behanan said.

But moving her son to ZCA has taken on an added urgency. Last year her son encountered racism that led to a physical retaliation. And while she understands her son’s punishment for hitting another student, she was disappointed that the other student received no consequence for calling her son “the N word.”

“This was his first experience with racism and my son didn’t understand it. I had to explain to him that since he is bi-racial this may be the first time but it won’t be the last time,” she said.

Ms. Behanan has talked to her son on better ways to handle racism but she feels he would have a better social and academic experience that would ultimately help him be more successful at ZCA. At ZCA, Ms. Behanana said, the faculty and administration have the time to handle student conflicts before they escalate to a physical confrontation.

“Here if children have disagreements they sit down and talk it out and work it out. I’ve seen it work,” she said.
Seeing how different school environments can impact a child’s education motivates Ms. Behanan to advocate for Scholarship Tax Credits.

“When this opportunity came I couldn’t do nothing but run with it because I have a child in a public school and a private school, wishing they were both in a private school,” she said.

Nancy Deaton’s great grandson is a middle-school student at Holy Trinity School, Bellevue. When he was very young her grandson experienced a serious fall and suffers with a traumatic brain injury. His skull was fractured in several places requiring multiple surgeries and hospitalizations and a helmet.

In addition to his physical challenges, her grandson also bears the emotional burden of having a mother that is incarcerated and an absent father.

When it came time for him to go to elementary school, she wanted a small, private school where he “wouldn’t be put aside,” she said.
“I’m not criticizing public schools by any means — they do a good job and they are there to help any child — but he needed a little bit more feeling of security and he was able to get that in a smaller school,” Ms. Deaton said.

Ms. Deaton said now her grandson is “a regular” child.

“He has an emotional story and when I think about it, it brings the emotion back to it and my heart hurts,” she said. “Now I wonder how I did it.”

She said she is grateful for the scholarship that enabled her grandson to attend a private school and thinks more families should be able to choose a private school for their children, which is why she supports scholarship tax credits.

“Education is an absolute necessity and it should be offered at the school that will best serve the child, not because of your financial status or who you know. Hopefully Kentucky will pass the bill and it will do exactly what it is supposed to do — help children.”

For more information on Scholarship Tax Credits visit www.edchoicky.com. For information on National School Choice Week visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com. 

DPC 2020

Deanery Pastoral Council convenes to review plan

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

The entire Curia staff and representatives from the Diocese of Covington’s five deaneries met Jan. 11 for the annual Deanery Pastoral Council (DPC) Convocation at Bishop Howard Memorial Auditorium.

About 20 directors of offices and agencies in the Curia presented an overview to deanery representatives the proposed Pastoral Plan for 2020-2021 and a status report on the 2018-2019 plan.

Topics covered this year ranged from the intention to create a handbook in the Chancery to the promotion of the Liturgy of the Hours for the laity to outreach in growing Hispanic communities.

Since the completion in 2017 of implementing the policies of the 2006 diocesan synod, the DPC has continued to meet annually to review objectives of the diocesan annual plan. The deanery representatives will take the proposals and reports back to local parish councils. Once the parish councils have reviewed and responded to the plan, the representatives will convene as a deanery to share and record in a single document each parish’s response. That document will be submitted to the Chancery with comments, concerns, and an affirmative or negative vote.

There are five deaneries in the Diocese of Covington: Campbell County Deanery, Covington Deanery, Northern Kenton Deanery, South East Deanery and South West Deanery.

Bishop Roger Foys concluded the convocation with an exhortation to the DPC to pour time and thought into their votes before returning them to the Chancery. “It’s not a question of voting, but a question of trying to see what this is all about,” he said.

He also explained that the priest file review being undertaken by the diocese from the last 70 years is a way “as far as humanly possible” to ensure that any abuse by diocesan priests has been properly reported. “Why do we have to do this? Because we value our children,” he said. “We want to be absolutely honest.”

Additionally, the priests of the diocese will continue to gather for Holy Hours, 3 p.m. every third Thursday of the month at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in reparation for those sins and for the sanctification of priests. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Bishop Foys shared that a proposed change of Mass times in parishes throughout the diocese was not favorably received by pastors and will not be implemented.

He also announced his upcoming intention to submit a letter of retirement to Holy Father Pope Francis at his 75th birthday, as bishops are required to do. He said that he does not know when Pope Francis will accept his retirement but is pleased to serve as long as the Holy Father desires him to remain in his position.

During his address at the DPC Convocation, Bishop Roger Foys accepted the recommendation of the recently restructured Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation to change its name to the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization.

“We are called to evangelize, and that’s what faith formation is. Evangelization covers all that and more,” Bishop Foys said.

The approval comes after reflection by Bishop Foys and his talk with Pope Francis during his December quinquennial visit ad limina. He said Pope Francis spoke with him about how “everything we do as bishops has to be geared toward evangelization: presenting the Gospel to God’s people.”

Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky providing a safe, warm, life-saving shelter for local homeless

Monica Yeamans, Editorial Assistant.

In recent days the nighttime temperatures dropped well below freezing. There are limited beds available in emergency shelters all across this nation not just in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The realities of homelessness are visible on the cities’ street corners and overpasses. This week — National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov. 16 – 24) — encourages the community not just to see but to gain insight.

Adult, white males and females, 62 or older, are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. They are typically retired, on a fixed income and with rising rents can no longer afford an apartment.

The Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky,Covington, is trying to help by providing a safe, warm, life–saving shelter for the local homeless, men and women, ages 18 and up. At the current location this year there are only 32 beds available on a first-come, first–served basis compared to 75 beds in past years at the same location, due to stricter enforcement of fire codes.

The Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky is a “low barrier” winter shelter which means, “We remove all the barriers to entrance or as many as we can remove,” said Kim Webb, executive director of the shelter. “We are not asking for a commitment to programming; we don’t require a drug test; we don’t require a background check; we simply are here to provide a life-saving bed for you so you don’t suffer or die outside.”

Thanks to an agreement with the local Salvation Army the 35 or more homeless who would have ordinarily stayed at the Emergency Shelter have a spot on the floor at their gymnasium during the nights below freezing. This is only a temporary solution to a growing homeless population.

The Emergency Shelter must staff the Salvation Army building during the nights it is in use as a shelter and they also must launder all the blankets every day. The staff sets up every evening and must clear the gym every morning. Homeless men and women sleep on Red Cross mats or cots or yoga mats with two or three blankets to keep warm (the gymnasium is cold).

The Emergency Shelter is also responsible for trans- porting the clients to and from the Salvation Army build- ing that is located 12 blocks from the Emergency Shelter building.

“We’re making it work because it is the right thing to do; because it is a human dignity issue,” said Ms. Webb. “We’re keeping people alive … We are dealing with life and death and our focus is on the life.”

A few churches have taken in some homeless in past years to help out — usually in January or February during the coldest months.

“The reality is there are no beds. There are no consistent beds. The churches know the parameters and how hard it is to do this; to operate what deems to be a right to shelter when temperatures are below 32. It is challenging at best. It has stretched us in ways that we never thought we could stretch. In 2019 the fact that we have a growing senior population sleeping on a yoga mats is incredulous,” said Ms. Webb.

Nationally, about two-thirds of homeless people are single adults with 70 percent men, 29 percent women and one percent of people who identify as other, said Ms. Webb. For the most part, seniors are who are homeless do not have an addiction problem but instead are being priced out of apartments. From the winter of 2016–2017 to the winter of 2017–2018 there was an 87 percent increase in seniors that are homeless; many with increasing health issues and with walkers or in wheelchairs.

“It is heartbreaking, heart wrenching,” said Ms. Webb. “We are the only handicap accessible shelter; the only option for them.”

“We have always known that the risk is greater for someone outside our building than inside our building,” said Ms. Webb. “We know that the unsheltered homeless are three times more likely to die outside than someone who is sheltered. We know that across the nation and the state of Kentucky that in other buildings and shelters when they deem it to be a white flag day (bitterly cold) or a weather concern the occupancy changes — it becomes unlimited to a certain degree because they value life. For me, as a Catholic, this is a life issue. Right to life is not just about an unborn baby. This is about the other end, too, of the adults in our community.”

Ms. Webb said that in Northern Kentucky she sees the best of humanity.

“People really do care. This is my faith community and this is what we do,” she said about the people who support the Emergency Shelter.

While the Emergency Shelter is non-denominational, Ms. Webb said, “We know the power of prayer and faith. Our focus is the fact that we meet people where they are when they are in need of a compassionate and non-judgmental way. My job is to keep [them] alive and provide the basic necessities so that [they] can maintain hope and dignity and hopefully have them end their homelessness.”

To help keep homeless men and women warm during the daytime hours and nights above 32 degrees the Emergency Shelter collects and distributes winter hats, gloves, hand warmers, scarves, boots, socks and long johns for their clients. Twin-size blankets are also needed for those who sleep on the gym floor at the Salvation Army building.

Volunteers are needed to help with the blanket washing and drying. Help is also needed with client transportation to and from the Salvation Army building.

For information about the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, Covington, call (859) 291-4555.

St. Vincent de Paul Microloan Program offers a new way out of poverty

Monica Yeamans, Editorial assistant.

This past summer Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Northern Kentucky began a new venture to help those in need help themselves out of poverty — the new “Microloan Program – a new path out of poverty.” This new program has been successful through local SVdP chapters in other U.S. cities such as Columbus, Ohio; Lancaster, Penn.; Dallas, Texas; and Arlington, Virginia.

In partnership with Kemba Credit Union, Florence and the Butler Foundation of Northern Kentucky, SVdP Northern Kentucky can offer clients an alternative to high interest loans while also providing clients an opportunity to learn about personal finances through financial mentoring.

SVdP NKY’s low-interest loan is fully guaranteed by SVdP NKY through its microloan program. Clients are referred by a Vincentian volunteer. Loans can be used to retire an existing loan, or for help with car, medical, educational or home repair expenses.

SVdP Northern Kentucky said that its hope for the program is to empower a person who has struggled financially and affect systemic change in the NKY community.

Deacon Mike Lyman, chair of SVdP Northern Kentucky’s Microloan Committee (a committee of seven community members) said, “These loans have provided the opportunity to address immediate needs such as car repairs and retiring predatory loans. The program does more than that, though. For our neighbors, they offer the opportunity to grow in confidence and financial skills. For our Vincentians, they are blessed with the opportunity to enter into extended relationships with our neighbors, which allows them to influence lives in a substantial way. The money made available is helpful, but the hope generated and the mentoring support provided are the true riches of this program.”

Karen Zengel, executive director, SVdP Northern Kentucky, is an ex-officio member of the Microloan Program Committee and reports that to date SVdP Northern Kentucky has made four microloans available to clients.

“Clients have the chance to get a loan to cover other expenses that might otherwise threaten their ongoing financial stability,” Mrs. Zengel said.

The committee convenes every time someone applies for a loan. Deacon Lyman has set up a variety of trainings for the financial mentors, which is another important component of this program.

Mrs. Zengel said, “While the loan itself is a really good opportunity for someone who may not otherwise have a chance to take out a loan, the other really important component of this program is the mentoring piece. That is important on two different levels: it is important to the individual who is a borrower that we work with them to help them achieve their own personal financial goals. They may not have had any instruction or guidance on how to start a savings account or even how to open a bank account. We’re helping the borrowers build a financial skill set. The other thing is, on the part of the Vincentians, it gives them an opportunity to work with a person who really needs a commitment, to make a significant change in their lives. So it is a different kind of experience than when they have the opportunity to do home visits. It is very motivating working with a person when you know they are taking steps to improve their lives. It can be very fulfilling for our Vincentians to have those chances to work with families who make a commitment.”

<<For information visit the St. Vincent de Paul of Northern Kentucky website www.SVDPky.org.>>

‘Diocese of Covington Guarantee’ a financial commitment to passing on Catholic faith

Laura Keener, Editor.

Thomas More University has announced a new initiative aimed at making a TMU education more financially attainable for local students — “The Diocese of Covington Guarantee.” With the Diocese of Covington Guarantee, TMU is affirming its commitment to students from the Diocese of Covington by guaranteeing $20,000 in institutional aid to students who choose TMU.

“In my inauguration speech, I spoke of the importance of providing every student in the Diocese of Covington with a high-quality, affordable Catholic education,” said Joseph Chillo, president, TMU. “The Diocese of Covington Guarantee ensures that all diocesan graduates starting with this year’s high school graduating seniors who meet our admission criteria will be awarded $20,000 in institutional aid.”

The Diocese of Covington Guarantee is not a stand-alone scholarship, said Rebecca Stratton, director of communications, TMU. It is designed to help bridge the gap so that each graduate of a Catholic high school in the diocese receives $20,000 of institutional aid.

Many families who have a student in a Catholic high school in the diocese are familiar with TMU’s Parochial Promise. The Parochial Promise is a $14,000 scholarship offered to any student who graduates from a Catholic high school nationwide and attends TMU. Diocesan high school students attending TMU will still qualify for the Parochial Promise. The Diocese of Covington Guarantee will be added to the Parochial Promise, and any other institutional aid, until the total institutional aid received reaches, but does not exceed, $20,000.

Non-institutional aid — like a student’s KEES money and federal or state grants — may be used in addition to the $20,000 from TMU.

“Our hope is that students from the diocese who qualify for full federal and state grants will have nearly no cost to attend Thomas More with this guarantee in place,” said Ms. Stratton.

All Diocese of Covington graduates who meet the minimum qualifications for admissions — 2.5 GPA and 20 ACT — starting with the graduating class of 2020 qualify for the guarantee. Another convenience for students is that there is not an additional form to complete to apply for the guarantee. A student’s admissions application acts as the application, said Ms. Stratton.

“Every diocesan student that wants to gain a Catholic higher education deserves the assistance to do so,” said President Chillo. “Creating opportunity for our diocesan high schools to effectively position the values and significance of a Catholic higher education begins with our responsibility of being the diocesan university. The values and purpose of Catholic education are significant and relevant and we must do our part to strengthen and advance the important work that was started almost 100 years ago at Villa Madonna College.”

For information visit the Thomas More University website www.university.thomasmore.edu.

 

In gratitude, Bishop Maes entombed at cathedral

Laura Keener, Editor.

On the day Bishop Camillus Paul Maes was buried, May 15, 1915, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recorded the weather for that day, “Heavy rain throughout the morning and into the afternoon, clearing about 3 p.m.; the wind will be from the east at 6 miles per hour.” The temperature at the time of the funeral was 64 degrees.

“Yesterday’s forecast for today was from the National Weather Service,” said Bishop Roger Foys, Oct. 26, at the requiem Mass and entombment of Bishop Maes. “‘Heavy rain throughout the morning and into the late evening. The wind will be from the east at 6 to 10 miles per hour and the high is forecast to be 64 degrees.’ I would say that I think that Bishop Maes is pleased.”

Nearly 700 people attended the requiem Mass and entombment of Covington’s third bishop — Camillus Paul Maes — at St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. Bishop Maes was the longest serving bishop of the Diocese of Covington (1885–1915). It was his leadership that built the Cathedral.

In fulfilling Bishop Maes’ wish, and in gratitude for Bishop Maes’ impact and contributions to the Church in Northern Kentucky, Bishop Foys has brought Bishop Maes home to the Cathedral he loved. The former baptistery, located under the choir loft, has been transformed into the Maes Chapel and Bishop Maes has been entombed in a marble sarcophagus bearing his image.

Bishop Foys was the main celebrant of the solemn ceremony with retired Bishop Robert Muench, the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Covington, concelebrating, along with over 60 diocesan priests. The procession consisted of about 100 people — about 40 deacons, the diocese’s 13 seminarians, Dominicans from St. Gertrude Monastery and representatives from the Knights of Malta, Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Knights of Columbus, Knights of St. John and the Catholic Order of Foresters.

They passed the casket containing Bishop Maes’ remains. Lying on the casket were symbols of the episcopacy — a white miter and a purple stole. At the foot of the casket, the Book of the Gospels was opened to the passage of “The Conversion of St. Paul.” During the ordination of a bishop The Book of the Gospels is held over the head of the bishop-elect until the prayer of consecration is completed. Paul is Bishop Maes’ middle name and St. Paul is the patron of the Diocese of Covington.

Around the casket were six lighted candles. The candles were made of unbleached beeswax — the same type of candles that would have been used to surround Bishop Maes’ casket in 1915.

Bishop Foys began his homily reflecting on the Gospel reading from St. John, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (12:23-26)

“Not just physical dying but also dying to our own ambitions, dying to our own will, dying to our own selfishness … giving our talents, our gifts,” Bishop Foys said. “A meaningful life is a life lived in service to others. A meaningful life is a life lived in the faith.”

He told those present that Bishop Maes would be happy they were here. His homily then shifted to Bishop Maes, painting a picture of the diocese the young bishop inherited and of Bishop Maes’ commitment to unity and of his love for the people of Covington.

“It wasn’t an easy time for him when he first came to the diocese,” Bishop Foys said. “The diocese was relatively young — only 32 years old … with a huge territory, very few priests, six churches, a lot of ministry to be done, a lot of work. It could never have been accomplished unless those who were in the ministry and those they served were willing to come together for one common cause — to bring the Gospel of Christ to life and light to their friends and to their neighbors.”

Bishop Maes inherited a diocese with crushing debt. When Covington’s first bishop, Bishop George Carrell, came to the diocese there was not a cathedral. He built one but was unable to pay for it. Bishop Foys read excerpts from correspondences Bishop Carrell had sent to the Vatican.

“In a letter to Rome he wrote, and this is sad, ‘I sometimes have to leave my house and go to the country to avoid my debtors.’ Another letter to the Propagation of the Faith says, ‘Perhaps you were too hasty in making Covington a diocese … I don’t think its priests or its people want a diocese or a bishop,’” Bishop Foys said.

Bishop Augustus Toebbe, the second bishop of Covington, “inherited the same cross that Bishop Carrell carried,” Bishop Foys said. “Both bishops worked as hard as they could to bring the Gospel to the people, to proclaim the Gospel, to bring the faith to all those they met.”

The other big challenge was what Bishop Maes referred to as “the narrow vision of parishes.” The priests and people of the diocese did not see themselves as part of a diocesan local Church, but instead focused on their own parishes — their own problems, their own concerns.

“He (Bishop Maes) declared, ‘The narrow vision of the parishes will now be obsolete. We are one Church. We are one local Church. This portion of the Kingdom of God known as the Diocese of Covington.’ And that is why he would be happy to see all of you here today — to see all the priests here — at the Mother Church of the Diocese of Covington. Yes, from individual parishes but coming together as one people of God — the local Church,” Bishop Foys said.

Bishop Foys said that to a great extent Bishop Maes succeeded in unifying the priests and people of the diocese.

“If he were not he would never had been able to build this beautiful Cathedral,” Bishop Foys said. “He had faith. He had faith in God, he had faith in himself, but most of all he had faith in God’s people. He had faith in God’s people that they would come together — that they would realize that they are the local Church; they would realize that something like this gives honor and glory not to the bishop, or to the priests or religious, but to all of God’s people. This Cathedral stands not as a testimony to one man or one people or one age it stands as a testimony as a witness to faith in God. It is literally a concrete sign of the faith of the people of this local Church known as the Diocese of Covington — people coming together with one mind, one heart and one faith.”

In closing Bishop Foys recounted the final days of Bishop Maes’ life. Seven years before his death Bishop Maes was diagnosed with diabetes. At that time, insulin had not yet been discovered. The only treatment for diabetes was a strict carbohydrate-free diet. Bishop Maes suffered greatly; walking was extremely difficult although he often refused assistance.

Bishop Foys said, that when he was told that he only had a few months to live, Bishop Maes said, “God’s will be done.”

He then entered a period of self-imposed seclusion saying to the sisters at the hospital, “I wish to see no one but to be alone with God. Tell my best friends to pray for me; especially have the children in school pray for me.”

Bishop Foys said that he then received extreme unction and holy Viaticum. The next day he dictated messages to his friends and relatives in Belgium and to his priests and to the people of the Diocese of Covington. A week before he died he said to a caller, “When I am gone I hope my people will remember me and will pray for me.”

“It’s hard not to remember him,” said Bishop Foys. “I remember him every time I walk into this Cathedral church and today we gather to pray for him. I think we can agree, by his life and certainly by this magnificent tribute to God, he has left a legacy — a legacy of devotion to God’s people, of untiring ministry and compassion and love.”

Bishop Maes’ last recorded words before he died were, “This has been a quiet, peaceful, restful day. I feel that I have done good work. I am ready to go home.”

Bishop Foys concluded his homily saying, “While we pray here today for Bishop Camillus Maes, we pray also for all those who have gone before us, those who have sacrificed and lived their faith in so many ways and we pray for those who continue to do that to this very day.

“Sometimes we see dark days in our lives, in our country, in our world and even, unfortunately, in our Church, but we must never lose sight that Jesus Christ is in our midst. He lives in every one of our churches, he is present in the Eucharist, he is present in the chapel and he is present in each other. Thank you for coming today for fulfilling the third bishop’s dream of coming home.”