Prayer and penance for life to be celebrated locally

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

As 2021 opens and events continue to be canceled or postponed, the annual Day of Prayer and Penance for Life will continue to champion the pro-life cause. On Jan. 29, in conjunction with the March for Life in Washington, DC, the Diocese of Covington will pray and offer acts of penance for an end to abortion. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no one from the diocese will be traveling from the schools or parishes to Washington, but the diocese will still support the pro-life cause locally.

Now, more than ever, Bishop Roger Foys asks the faithful to set aside time for prayer and penance. There will be no holy hours this year; however, Bishop Foys will celebrate Mass at 9 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. He asks for the faithful’s participation at the Mass, which will also be live-streamed and recorded on the cathedral website.

“The cause for life is no less important, but we want to be responsible with the protocols for COVID-19,” said Bishop Foys. He emphasized that keeping the established protocols is one way of being pro-life: “Certainly on this day we recall the horrific Supreme Court decision in 1973 of legalizing abortion, but also, life at all stages is important and the protocols have been issued as a way of protecting life also. We can’t take it any less seriously.”

New this year, diocesan schools will involve all students in the Day of Prayer and Penance by watching the Mass during school. While in the past, some students traveled and some remained behind, now all can be united in prayer simultaneously. Parents and others can also join by streaming Mass online. Additionally, anyone can watch it afterwards on the cathedral website.

One week prior to the March for Life, President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. With the recent elections, the Democratic party has taken control of both the House and the Senate. For many in the pro-life movement the change in political leadership is unsettling as the stated Democratic platform seeks to protect and expand access to abortion.

Bishop Foys encourages those in the pro-life movement to persevere in their peaceful efforts to protect the unborn and to focus not only on changing laws but also on changing hearts and minds. Much of that work is done in schools, homes and the sidewalks outside of abortion of clinics.

“We have been fighting this fight for 48 years this year,” he said. “And in all that time, we still have not seen the Roe v. Wade decision overturned. No matter who is in office, we must be vigilant in our cause for life. No matter who is in office, we have to work no less seriously for the right to life in all its stages.”

Ultimately, he said, “… the life of an unborn child is not a political football. This is a life issue and a moral issue, not a political issue. It’s the difference between right and wrong. Abortion is morally wrong; to take anyone’s life is wrong, period.”

It is up to the individual, Bishop Foys emphasized, to act and speak from the heart for this issue. “What have we done in the last 48 years to change hearts and to change minds, by our own witness and our own example?” he said. “We continue the fight.”

Deacon Rielage looks forward to bringing others to Christ in his priesthood

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Joe Rielage had few inklings growing up that he would one day be a priest. As Deacon Rielage prepares for his ordination Jan. 29, he reflects on the fact that most of the significant events in his life involved priests from the Diocese of Covington.

“Even before I moved to the Diocese of Covington from Cincinnati, Ohio, there was such a connection between me and the presbyterate,” said Deacon Rielage. Before his parents met, his mother took a tour in Europe in the 1960s, led by a group of priests from the Diocese of Covington. Upon befriending several, Deacon Rielage’s mother asked one to officiate her wedding. His sister followed suit, and eventually his parents completed their legacy with funeral Masses celebrated by priests of the diocese as well.

Deacon Joseph Rielage“I feel like there’s a connection, this is where I need to be because all these events in my life … It feels natural for me to be here because I have such a close connection,” he said. After growing up in Cincinnati and attending Elder High School, he achieved a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Cincinnati, and eventually moved to Northern Kentucky while working at the CVG Airport.

Upon the passing of his father, Deacon Rielage began to more seriously consider the priesthood, and entered seminary in 2015.

“I felt like something was missing in my life and I prayed about it, and the thought of seminary came to mind again. I knew in my heart at that time that it was the right time to do it because of the signs I received, like the peacefulness and the fire that was burning inside of me, when I received the call on Pentecost Sunday of 2014,” he said.

Over the course of his time in seminary, Deacon Rielage has come to know and appreciate the value of serving others and being present with them. “It gives me comfort, but also enjoyment even in the hardest of situations, that I can be there to share sad times, to share good times with people, to bring comfort, to bring joy and hope as needed,” he said. “Although it’s not an easy time, it’s a fulfilling time that’s worthwhile. It gives me the energy and stamina to go forward, to be like Christ to other people, to be an example of Christ in the world.”

He has also enjoyed his summer assignments during seminary, particularly the last two summers at St. Henry Parish, Elsmere. The support from Father Gregory Bach and Carmelite Father Aby Thampi, he said, was unparalleled. “They made me feel welcome, they made me feel like I was a part of the presbyterate,” he said.

Deacon Rielage also credits Father Kevin Kahmann, pastor at Mary, Queen of Heaven Parish, Erlanger during his pre-seminary days, with having an incredible influence on his decision to pursue priesthood. Father Kahmann will vest Deacon Rielage at the ordination.

What he’s most excited for, he said, is confecting the Eucharist and bringing Christ to people in the Mass on a daily basis. If he can help people along their journeys and bring them to Christ and their eternal reward, he’ll be happy.

He’s looking to two saints for assistance in this endeavor. St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J., was a porter in the monastery in the 16th century who is an example of humility. “He just did (his work) with such joy, such happiness, and to me that just shows that even in the most mundane tasks, you can find joy in serving other people,” said Deacon Rielage.

He’s also turning to Blessed Carlo Acutis as an example of Eucharistic devotion. “Especially in the time of the pandemic, I understand that people are not always comfortable coming to church,” said Deacon Rielage. “But we need to get young people to come back to church. Through his example of devotion to the Church, the Eucharist and the rosary, hopefully the young people can look upon him and get encouragement that God is the center and giver of all.”

Deacon Rielage was ordained to the transitional diaconate April 8, 2020 in an empty cathedral in Covington. His last year in seminary hasn’t gone as he anticipated due to COVID-19, but Deacon Rielage has made the most of it. Last spring when classes went virtual only, he realized in a new way that “anything can happen at any time.”

“We may have everything planned out in our minds, but God works in mysterious ways to make us realize that we’re not in control,” he said. “Going back in the fall, with the guidelines at the seminary, there was less time for fraternity with the other seminarians, but in a way that was full of grace because it was able to make me focus more on prayer time since there were no special events. I found myself praying more and it increased my love for God, and my peace and comfort.”

In prayer, Deacon Rielage has been sustained during the pandemic by Matthew 11:28: “Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”

“We all get worn out, we all become so focused on the pandemic, and it’s exhausting on everyone, but at the same point, nothing is stronger than God. If we put our trust in God, he will give us the strength, the encouragement and the rest we need to continue.”

In his free time, Deacon Rielage enjoys traveling (when there isn’t a pandemic), taking walks, especially in nature, spending time with friends and family, reading and is hoping to take up photography. He has one older sister who will attend the ordination, with her family, his extended family and close friends.

Deacon Rielage will be ordained to the Sacred Order of the Priesthood Jan. 29, 2021 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, on what would have been his mother’s 85th birthday. He’s convinced it’s not a coincidence. He will then celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Henry Parish, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. Both events are by invitation only and will be live-streamed.

CCK promotes education opportunity accounts for school choice in General Assembly

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

This year could see changes for educational choice in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, if the Catholic Conference of Kentucky and others can garner enough momentum for bills promoting Education Opportunity Accounts.

Rather than focusing on scholarship tax credits, as in past years, House Bill 149 and Senate Bill 25, favor Education Opportunity Accounts. If the bills are passed, individuals and businesses can donate to non-profit Account Granting Organizations (AGOs), who are authorized to receive donations under the program and will provide financial assistance for educational services. This will allow those who apply to the program an opportunity to make choices that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible to them.

Andrew Vandiver, associate director, CCK, said they took feedback last year from families, policy makers and educators to craft a bill that would be “more inclusive and addressing the needs of the specific moment we’re in.”

“If the General Assembly had passed educational choice bills in the past, there would be a resource for families that are struggling right now,” said Mr. Vandiver. “With COVID-19, families really need more flexibility than ever, and this would help address that. But because there is no educational choice program in Kentucky, there’s very few additional resources right now for families who are struggling.”

In the first week after the bills were released, an unprecedented number of sponsors provided their support. House Bill 149 was filed by Rep. Chad McCoy and is co-sponsored, from counties in the Diocese of Covington, by Rep. Kim Banta (Kenton and Boone Counties), Rep. Kim Moser (Kenton and Campbell Counties), Rep. Joe Fischer (Campbell County), Rep. Adam Koenig (Kenton and Boone Counties), Rep. William Lawrence (Bracken, Fleming and Mason Counties), Rep. Savannah Maddox (Grant and Kenton Counties), Rep. Felicia Rabourne (Carroll and Gallatin Counties) and Rep. Sal Santoro (Boone County).

Senate Bill 25 was filed by Senator Ralph Alvarado and co-sponsored by Senator Damon Thayer of Scott, Kenton and Grant Counties.

The House and Senate are set to vote on the bills in February. The big difference in this bill, compared to scholarship tax credits in the past, is it’s much more flexible and inclusive, said Mr. Vandiver. Rather than donations given to non-profits merely providing tuition assistance, donations could provide many different types of educational services.

“There’s parts of the state that may not have a non-public school close by, and their educational needs are different in that community,” said Mr. Vandiver. “If you have students in that area who want access to college courses that they might not otherwise have been able to afford it, you could set up this assistance for that; it could also do tutoring, special needs services … it’s really customizable as far as how the funds could be used, it depends on the needs of the family and also the mission of the non-profit organization.”

Mr. Vandiver said these are crucial bills for Kentucky in the school choice issue. “We have an opportunity to do something moving forward that’s going to help families,” he said. He thinks that the inclusivity of the bills will make them more likely to pass.

“We have champions in the legislature, we know the public wants this. We did a public opinion survey this fall and I believe it was 77 percent of Kentuckians support educational choice. It’s bipartisan … so you really can’t go wrong by supporting this. … We strongly believe that the votes are there in the General Assembly. The biggest challenge is there is a lot going on this session and there’s a lot being demanded of the lawmakers. So we’re just asking people, if you have a student in your life, or you just have a desire to help students, make sure your voice is heard, because otherwise this issue just won’t get the attention it needs.”

Ultimately, it’s about children and not individual schools or organizations, said Mr. Vandiver. “We know it’s challenging, but we just hope that the legislators really take a look at how this could help families out, help kids succeed in the future,” he said.

The annual [email protected] event, which champions school choice in Frankfort, will be held differently this year due to COVID19, with virtual and limited in-person options. The CCK encourages citizens to stay in touch with the General Assembly by tuning into live video coverage of legislative meetings, contacting lawmakers to offer feedback, reading bills and resolutions, and signing up to receive notices when bills advance. The General Assembly’s web page provides all of the above information.

Dedicated priest cared for souls, gave everything to his priesthood and parish family

Laura Keener, Editor.

Father Mario Joseph Tizziani, a priest of the Diocese of Covington, died Saturday, Dec. 26, at Carmel Manor in Ft. Thomas, Ky. He was born April 8, 1954, in Steubenville, Ohio, to Lino John and Catherine Gabriel Tizziani. A 1972 graduate of Toronto High School, Toronto, Ohio, he proudly served in the U.S. Navy, then later graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. For 15 years he taught elementary, middle and high school in Jacksonville, Florida, where he was named Regional Teacher of the Year in 1999. Later, he pursued a doctorate degree in history from his beloved Ohio State University. On June 23, 2006, he was ordained as a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Covington, Ky.

In a 2004 interview with the Messenger, as a seminarian looking toward priesthood Father Tizziani said, “I think that the important factor is that I be a holy priest, a man of God and live a life that challenges my flock to live holy lives.”

Father Mario was installed as pastor of St. Cecilia Parish, Independence, Aug. 10, 2008. In 2015, he received the Distinguished Pastor Award from the National Catholic Educational Association. On July 10, 2017, he led in the groundbreaking of a $5.5 million expansion, including a gymnasium at St. Cecilia Catholic School, to its completion in 2019. In October of 2018, under his leadership, St. Cecilia School was named a Blue Ribbon School. Father Mario was also instrumental in the success of St. Cecilia’s annual Labor Day Festivals during his tenure. Toronto High School named him a Distinguished Alumni in September of 2019.

“Father Mario Tizziani was ordained for almost 15 years and spent that entire time at St. Cecilia Parish in Independence, first as parochial vicar and then as pastor,” said Bishop Roger Foys. “He referred to the parish as his home and to his parishioners as his family. To say he was actively involved in every aspect of the parish and parish life would be an understatement. His priesthood absorbed his life and it was demonstrated in any number of ways, especially in the fact that he seldom left the parish for any length of time.”

“It (being a priest) was something that tugged at him his entire life, but he was always busy with something else,” said Gina Motto, Father Tizziani’s sister.

While studying at OSU, Father Tizziani finally surrendered to God’s call to the priesthood. When Father Tizziani told the family that he was entering seminary, he thought he would catch them off guard. But his mom said, she already knew what he was going to say.

“You’re going to be a priest, I’ve known it my whole life,” Mrs. Tizziani said to her son.

What tipped his mother off? When he was a boy and came across a dead animal, he would give the fallen creature a proper funeral and burial, making a popsicle-stick cross to mark the grave.

Father Tizziani began studying to the priesthood for the Diocese of Steubenville. He became familiar with and drawn to the Diocese of Covington when his pastor, Father Roger Foys, was appointed bishop of Covington.

“When he came here he said he saw a great need here, he wasn’t just following his pastor, he saw a need here and he felt called to be here,” said Father Raymond Enzweiler, who was ordained along with Father Tizziani.

Father Enzweiler said, “I was always impressed with how devoted he was to people, especially at St. Cecilia.”
Kendra McGuire, who was principal at St. Cecilia School prior to being named superintendent of Catholic Schools, said that, as a former teacher himself, Father Tizziani was always interested in making sure that the students were doing well academically.

“He had a goal to apply for the Blue Ribbon. He told the school board St. Cecilia was going to be a standout school and he put the people in place to make that happen.”

More importantly, Father Tizziani was dedicated not only to teaching his students the Catholic faith, but also living the faith — teaching religious hymns at Christmas, initiating the annual Saints Parade at Halloween, praying the rosary, and saying prayers before Mass, the Anima Christi after Communion and prayers after Mass.

“At each grade level the altar servers would learn something more about the Mass; it kept the students involved in the Mass and learning about it,” Mrs. McGuire said. “He was the kind of person that cared about everybody. He made St. Cecilia such a welcoming community. He connected with people and he cared about their souls. He gave everything to being a priest.”

Kenneth Collopy, currently in his second year as principal at St. Cecilia School, agreed.
“He was involved in the everyday operations of the school. He was a huge factor in the $6 million addition that was put on; he took to heart the evangelization of the students; he was a great mentor to them.”

Speaking personally, Mr. Collopy said that Father Tizziani has made a big impact on his faith life. “He helped me grow in my faith which I am very appreciative of. We all want to get to heaven and if I get there he will have contributed to helping me achieve that,” he said.

Father Tizziani was a fourth degree Knight of Columbus. In 2016 he was appointed chaplain for the State of Kentucky Knights of Columbus, a position he held until his death.

“Father Mario was a dedicated Knight of Columbus, he was State Chaplain for the Knights of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a position he cherished and to which he dedicated himself wholeheartedly,” said Bishop Foys.

Like the many other people in Father Tizziani’s life, Steve Zanone, State deputy, Knights of Columbus, found him readily available.

“In spite of Father Mario’s horrendously busy schedule, he was extremely committed to the Knights,” Mr. Zanone said. “He took an active part celebrating Mass for us, providing Eucharistic adoration, praying the rosary with us, trying to grow our faith by his example and through his leadership. Personally, Father Mario was a very trusted advisor and confidant, he was the guy you could go to.”

Mr. Zanone said that Father Tizziani wasn’t shy about correcting a person if he felt they were out of line. “If he thought you were out to lunch, he’d let you know. That’s what made him so valuable.”
“I will always remember his joy and his levity,” Mr. Zanone said. “When it was time to be serious, he was serious, when it was time to have fun, he knew how to have fun, he knew how to live life.”

“He loved Christmas,” said Mrs. Motto as she recalled a very special Christmas Father Tizziani arranged for his mother. Each night during the 12 days of Christmas, he would secretly knock on the front door, sitting on the doorstep would be a gift corresponding to the popular song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

“He had a friend do the knocking a few nights while he was with her,” said Mrs. Motto. “That was her best Christmas ever and every Christmas she would reminisce back to that Christmas. He put so much thought into everything he did.”

“I had the privilege of knowing Father Mario, first as his pastor for 20 some years, and then as his bishop,” said Bishop Foys. “I will miss him, as will so many whose lives he touched by his devoted ministry. We thank God for his life and for his ministry. May he rest in peace with the God he knew and served so well in this life.”

His father, Lino John Tizziani; nephew, Jason Joseph Motto; brother-in-law, Tom Anderson and uncle, Gino Tizziani, preceded him in death. Survivors include his mother, Catherine Gabriel Tizziani, sisters, Gina (Joe) Motto and Esther Anderson; brothers, Dan (Maggie) Tizziani and Anthony (Lisa) Tizziani; many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.

Bishop Foys celebrated the funeral Mass Dec. 31, at St. Cecilia Parish. Interment was held Jan. 2 in Toronto. Memorials are suggested to St. Cecilia School and St. Cecilia Catholic Church.

Make room for Jesus, Bishop Foys says during Midnight Mass at the cathedral

Laura Keener, Editor.

As midnight Mass was about to begin, Dec. 24, inside the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption all was calm and peaceful as Dr. Gregory Schaeffer, organist, and LeeAnn Kordenbrock, soloist and cantor, filled the cathedral with Christmas hymns. This year the full Bishop’s Choir and congregational singing were suspended as, even on Christmas Eve, COVID-19 protocols were observed for the health and safety of everyone.

The congregation was masked and the crowd was greatly reduced yet the Cathedral was adorned in greenery and cheery red poinsettias led the way up the sanctuary steps to the altar. At the stroke of midnight, Bishop Roger Foys processed to the Cathedral’s nativity scene and removed a cloth which covered the baby Jesus who laid in the manger in the Cathedral’s nativity scene.

“Today is born a savior who is Christ the Lord. That is why we come together to celebrate,” Bishop Foys said as he began his homily.

Acknowledging that much has changed in our lives, in our country and in our world since last Christmas, Bishop Foys said, “The message (of Christmas) is the same every year, but we don’t remain the same. Our lives change, we change — we grow old, we grow wiser. This year certainly has been a year of change.”

“To those who dwell in darkness a great light will shine,” Bishop Foys said repeating the words from the readings. “It has been a dark year, a time of gloom a time of sadness, yet one thing that has not changed, that will never change, is what we celebrate today — a savior has been born to us and he is Christ the Lord.”

Reflecting on St. Luke’s nativity narrative (the Gospel reading for midnight Mass) Bishop Foys focused on the innkeeper.

“In that narrative are the saddest words, ‘There was no room at the inn.’ Maybe that hasn’t changed that much either,” Bishop Foys said. “Still in the lives of many people, in the lives of many nations, there is no room for Jesus. Every year at Christmas we have to ask ourselves, ‘Do I have any room for Jesus in my life? Have I opened the door wide for him to come into my heart, into my mind, into my soul? Do I let him dwell within me or have I shut him out?”

Bishop Foys shared a message of how, even in the darkest times, it is possible to find and keep joy.
“When we let Jesus into our lives, into our hearts, into our minds, into our souls we are transformed. Once we do that, there is nothing and there is no one who can take our joy from us. As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, let us open our hearts to him and let him live in us.”

Covington Christmas Tree dedicated

Messenger Staff Report

Rain and sleet couldn’t stop the dedication of the Christmas tree Dec. 16 at St. Mary’s Park, Covington. A small crowd gathered to hear remarks from Joe Meyer, mayor of Covington; Kendra McGuire, superintendent of Catholic Schools; and Bishop Roger Foys, who blessed the tree and dedicated it to the students of the diocesan schools. “When the government and the Church work hand in hand, we can do great things,” said Bishop Foys, before blessing the 20-foot tree. “With this tree, decorated and adorned, may we welcome Christ among us, and may it guide us to that perfect light, who is Emmanuel, God with us,” he prayed.

The tree was decorated by members of the Diocese of Covington Curia staff, using ornaments contributed by the diocesan schools — hundreds of those crafted by individual students. “We dedicate the tree to all the students enrolled in the school system of the Diocese of Covington,” said Bishop Foys. “They’ve had to make an awful lot of sacrifices… and we wanted some way to bring them all together. We thank God for them and for their parents. … We were really pleased with the number of students who sent ornaments.” Mr. Mark Guilfoyle was master of ceremonies.

To view the full dedication, click here.

Christmas Mass in the Diocese of Covington

The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus is celebrated Dec. 25, 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mass capacity will be limited this year, so the Diocese of Covington encourages the faithful to plan ahead accordingly to find a time that will fit for their families.

Please see below for a full list of Mass times throughout the diocese.

If you’ve switched up your Christmas Mass routine over the years, you may have noticed that the readings are different at each Mass. Just like the readings, which rotate on a three-year cycle, the readings for Christmas Mass are chosen intentionally. What is the significance of the timing of Christmas Masses and the readings?

Like it does in all things, the Church uses Christmas Masses to tell the story of salvation. Different Masses emphasize varying aspects of the Christmas story, and together they communicate the message of the Messiah coming to save the world.

The Vigil Mass, celebrated early Saturday evening, is distinct from the three Christmas liturgies. Many families enjoy going to this Mass to kick off Christmas festivities, but the Church in her liturgies is just getting started. The Gospel is the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, the genealogy of Jesus. It sets the scene because the focus of this Mass is the humble beginnings of Christ’s life on earth.

Next up, Midnight Mass usually begins somewhere between 9 p.m. and midnight on Christmas Eve. Since Midnight is traditionally celebrated as the hour Christ was born, the Gospel is Luke 2 — the traditional narrative of Jesus’ birth. This Mass carries a theme of deep night, and is officially considered the first Mass of Dec. 25 rather than a vigil. It’s sometimes called the “Angel’s Mass” because of the “good news” carried to the world, and the Responsorial Psalm bears the angels’ words: “Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.”

On Christmas morning, the Mass at Dawn celebrates Christ as the Light of the world breaking over the darkness like the sun breaks over the sky. Mass at Dawn ought to be celebrated early, sometime around the dawn — otherwise, it can be classified as the third Christmas Mass, Mass During the Day. The Gospel for the Mass at Dawn is the narrative of the arrival of the shepherds at the birth of Christ, and thus it’s called the “Shepherd’s Mass.” The theme of light continues through the Responsorial Psalm: “A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us.”

Finally, the Mass During the Day, usually celebrated some time after 9 or 10 a.m., communicates the message that the Son of God has now been revealed to the world in the full light of day. Sometimes called the “King’s Mass,” it rejoices in the coming of Christ for the whole world, just as the three kings, or Magi, received him as Gentiles rather than Jews. This begins the evangelization of the whole world rather than the singular focus of the Old Testament on the Jews alone. The Gospel for this Mass is the beginning of the Gospel of John, tying in the larger framework and implications of Jesus’ birth, known and planned by God from the beginning for the salvation of his people.

All-schools Mass unites schools across diocese in Advent prayer

Laura Keener, Editor.

Nearly 3,000 families were logged in, Dec. 14, to participate in the live stream of the diocese’s first all-schools Advent Mass. Bishop Roger Foys decided to celebrate the Mass as a way to unite the students, who have been learning remotely since Nov. 23, in prayer during these final days of Advent as they prepare their hearts for Christmas. While the students attended virtually, the deans, principals and superintendent of Schools were present in the Cathedral. Their presence made the students present in a more tangible way as they represented their school communities.

In his homily Bishop Foys focused on waiting and, in a special way, Advent waiting.

“I’ve never met in my life anyone who likes to wait,” said Bishop Foys. “Yet the season of Advent is all about waiting — preparing and waiting. The important thing about waiting is how we wait,” noting that some people wait more patiently than others.

The waiting of Advent serves three purposes, Bishop Foys said.

“First we wait for Christmas, the anniversary of the birth of our Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ. We also wait and prepare for Jesus to come into our own lives. And, of course, part of that is waiting and preparing for the time when Jesus will come again. He will come at the end of the world to judge us. These three things are what we wait for during this season of Advent.”

In Scripture, John the Baptist says, “‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’ We are to be that voice in our time, preparing ourselves but also helping others to prepare. How do we do this?’” Bishop Foys asked.

Bishop Foys said that how a person waits will make all the difference. “if we wait properly and profitably, if we prepare ourselves while we are waiting, then that for what we are waiting will bring us great joy. If we get tired of waiting, and we lose sight of what it is we are waiting, we can lose interest,” he said. “It takes faith, it takes stamina, it takes patience and it takes hope and it all comes down to how do we wait, how do we prepare ourselves, how important is God’s coming into our lives?”

In acknowledging the difficulties and sacrifices that teachers, students and parents have had to endure during this unique year, Bishop Foys said that this waiting and sacrificing can teach us to identify and to appreciate what is most important in life.

“One of the things we were forced to do during these months was to spend more time with family, time to read, time to pray, time do projects we had been putting off, time to see what really matters,” he said. “To you students watching, my guess would be that a day off of school is not going to be so great as it once was. Being in school, in person with your classmates and teachers, hopefully, will look a whole lot better. Waiting tells us something about who we really are and what really matters.”

After Mass, Kendra McGuire, superintendent of Schools, addressed the students, encouraging them during these last days of Advent and looking forward with hope to returning to the classroom in January.

“We are truly blessed to gather as one school community. Today we are not 37 different schools or nearly 10,000 individual students and staff; today we are united together as a community of believers joined as one in prayer and thanks to God,” Mrs. McGuire said.

“We have one week of school remaining in this year of 2020 and though this year was full of new challenges for us as teachers and students we need to finish strong. Let’s give this last week our best effort so that when this week comes to a close we can spend time with our families and focus on the reason for being off school — to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. During this third week of Advent, the three lit candles on our Advent wreath reminds us that Jesus is near. It is a reminder for us to take a look into our own hearts to see if we are truly prepared for Jesus this Christmas … It is time to stop doing hurtful things and instead look for ways to be like Christ to one another.”

Church musicians reflect on different year, amid pandemic

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

“We pull out all the stops at Christmas,” said LeeAnn Kordenbrock, the cathedral soloist. Pun intended or not, she will be standing next to the organ during Midnight Mass. “If we don’t have as many personnel, that doesn’t mean we won’t make it as beautiful as we possibly can.”

Ms. Kordenbrock and Dr. Gregory Schaffer, basilica principal organist and choirmaster, have been providing nearly all of the music at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, since the public celebration of Mass resumed May 21 in the Diocese of Covington after the COVID-19 shutdown. As Christmas approaches, they reflected on the challenges of the year as church musicians.

“I think it was the weekend of March 15 when Father had to pull the plug on music,” said Dr. Schaffer. “We had (Cathedral Bishop’s Choir) rehearsal that Wednesday, and by Friday evening, all the music was cancelled. … It was totally unexpected, but by the weekend, I think none of us were that surprised because things were developing on a daily basis around the entire country.”

LeeAnn Kordenbrock, Cathedral soloist.

Music resumed when public celebration of Mass did, but everything had to look different. Since many of the choir members were at higher risk of catching COVID-10, Dr. Schaffer didn’t feel comfortable approaching any of them to solicit help, due to the risk factor. He also knew that many had signed on because of the group experience. That’s when Ms. Kordenbrock volunteered to solo.

“Greg and I talked, and I offered to do whatever anybody needed,” she said. She has since become a staple, along with Dr. Schaffer, for weekly Cathedral Masses. A few other singers have helped out along the way as well.

When public Mass resumed with the provision that the congregation could not sing, due to the threat of droplets spreading the virus, Dr. Schaffer had to restructure his entire Mass plan. “You have to approach it with a completely different set of variables. Every detail of what we do for the liturgy had to be re-thought, re-processed, and to an extent tested out. With one voice singing, you can’t play full organ like you would with the congregation singing along with a hymn. It’s been quite a learning curve.”

As far as the music they choose, Ms. Kordenbrock said it takes a lot more effort and planning on a weekly basis, “but it’s not quite as paralyzing as it was when the first quarantine statement was made.” They have developed a much simpler repertoire for the soloist arrangement.

While they’ve always tried to include a variety of styles in the Cathedral due to the variety in Mass-goers — parishioners and visitors alike — Dr. Schaffer and Ms. Kordenbrock have tried out some new styles this year. They’ve adopted the Mass propers, antiphons which are a more traditional method of music in the liturgy, and are commonly replaced by hymns. They are sung at the procession, the offertory, communion and the recession. This was, in part, due to a concern that the congregation would feel left out.

“At first I was concerned about doing very familiar hymns with just a cantor and organ, that might be perceived as teasing the congregation,” said Dr. Schaffer. “Not that it would be intentional, but still the idea that ‘I know this hymn and I want to sing it and I can’t.’ It’s frustrating.”

Beside the propers, they also started using familiar texts with unfamiliar melodies so that there might be some meaning in the music, particular to that day or celebration, “without perhaps scratching at a scab of someone who wants to be singing,” said Dr. Schaffer.

“Sometimes when we sing tunes that we’ve sung forever and ever and we know the words… sometimes the meaning gets lost a little bit, so when you change it up,” added Ms. Kordenbrock. “It’s been a growth exercise in the best of ways.”

When asked how they persevere through it all, Ms. Kordenbrock said, “I’m not a scientist, but the whole deal that we’ve all believed from the time we’ve entered our faith life, is that we stay the course. So it will get better, we’ll get through it.”

“Certainly without the unwavering support of Bishop (Roger) Foys, Father (Ryan) Maher and the community, that would be much more of a question mark over my head,” said Dr. Schaffer. “So it’s been quite inspirational to me week to week that we’re doing something we should be doing, and we continue on the same path. There will be an answer at some point.”

For Midnight Christmas Mass, they will be joined by a violinist in the choir loft. The live broadcast from the Cathedral will feature a recording of the Cathedral Bishop’s Choir and instrumental ensemble from 2019 starting at 11 p.m., and the in-person celebration will feature the trio beginning around 11:40 p.m.

Both musicians advised people in choirs everywhere, who haven’t been able to sing with their group, to take care of their voices while at home. “There will be a learning curve coming back, whether you’re professional or amateur — if you don’t do it, you lose it,” said Ms. Kordenbrock.

“I want to acknowledge choirs everywhere that are pining to return to some form of sung liturgy — I share in that anticipation,” Dr. Schaffer said. He also hopes congregations will respond boisterously when they are once again allowed to sing in Mass.

“No matter what the circumstance, we can make something meaningful out of it,” he said.

For a complete listing of Christmas Mass times around the diocese, see page 7 in the Dec. 18 Messenger.

Ground broken and trails blazed for Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky

Messenger Staff Report

The Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky broke ground for its new building located at 436 West 13th Street in Covington, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. (From left to right) Jude Hehman, CEO of Furlong Building; Mike Sutton, attorney; Kim Webb, executive director, ESNKY; Jon Draud, Kenton County Commissioner; Emily Toebbe, vice president, ESNKY Board of Directors; Kris Knochelmann, Kenton County judge executive; Divine Providence Sister Janet Bucher; Jamie Weaver, president, ESNKY Board of Directors; Brent Cooper, president and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Emma Adkisson, architect, PCA Architecture. Also present were Steve Hensley, director, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Joe Shriver, county administrator and a representative from St. Elizabeth Healthcare.