World Wide Marriage Encounter convention focuses on ‘Loving Greatly’

By Laura Keener.

The World Wide Marriage Encounter (WWME) Midwest Region convention was held the weekend of July 19–21 in the Diocese of Covington. Wayne and Jeanie Hodges, parishioners, St. Mary Parish, Alexandria, co-chaired the event with Thomas and Ginny Segbers, Cincinnati, and Father John Moriarty, Diocese of Lexington.

World Wide Marriage Encounter is the largest pro-marriage organization in the world. Its mission is to promote overnight experiences for couples who want to make a good marriage even better, said Mr. and Mrs. Hodges. The Midwest region encompasses Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern and Central Kentucky.

To achieve its mission, WWME hosts retreat-like weekends (and sometimes mid-week) “experiences” for couples. Couples that have already completed a WWME weekend host the weekends. The experiences allow couples time away from their daily routines to focus on each other and their marriage. During the weekend couples learn practical communication techniques. The goal is to rediscover their hopes and dreams for each other and their marriage.

Priests and religious are also encouraged to make a WWME experience so that they can take time away from their everyday life to rediscover their hopes and dreams for their vocation.

The theme for this year’s WWME convention was “Loving Greatly.” The theme, the Hodges said, is based on the book “Daring Greatly,” by Dr. Brene Brown.

“Presenters shared their shame of ‘not being enough’ in areas of their lives,” said Mrs. Hodges. “Being vulnerable, sharing their weaknesses and their feelings in their marital relationship is important. We must be vulnerable and deal with our shame of not being enough in order to love and be loved. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and sharing our inner selves is ‘Loving Greatly.’”

The convention opened Friday evening with Mass celebrated by Bishop Roger Foys at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington. The Gospel reading was St. Paul’s familiar discourse on love — love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous, is not pompous, is not rude, it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things … love never fails. (cf. 1 Cor 13)

In his homily Bishop Foys said, “The most important phrase, to my mind, in that chapter is that love never fails — endless love. Endless love is difficult for human beings to imagine. Everything that we know has a beginning and an end. To convince anyone of us to believe something is endless can be very difficult. And yet, Paul says love never ends. That is true if it is true love, if it is genuine, if it is unconditional — that kind of love never ends. That genuine love speaks of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for that love is without end.”

Bishop Foys reminded the couples that Jesus encourages his people to “love one another as I have loved you.”

“That’s frightening because Jesus Christ loves us enough to go to the cross — to give up everything and everyone, even his own life, for us.”

Bishop Foys ended his homily encouraging the couples and the work of WWME.

“The work that you do in Marriage Encounter is essential — it is vital. You can be examples and witnesses to the fact that there is real love, true love, unconditional love, endless love,” Bishop Foys said. “As you begin your days together, I thank you for your witness that you love and bear for God and for each other. May that love spill over to the lives of others so that they can come to understand that there is such a thing as endless love. May your days together bear much fruit. May God bless you every day of your lives.”

WWME convention presentations were held at the St. Elizabeth Training and Education Center, Erlanger. Closing Mass, celebrated by Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington, was held Sunday at the training center.

To learn more about World Wide Marriage Encounter visit or call (937) 886-5196.


Upcoming World Wide Marriage Encounter Experiences

Sept. 10–11 (Tuesday and Wednesday)

Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, Cincinnati

~Ideal for priests, religious and couples who have an easier time getting away during the week



Oct. 18–20

Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, Cincinnati


Nov. 1–3

Maria Stein Retreat Center, Maria Stein, Ohio


Attendees stay overnight. All meals and materials are provided.

For information visit or call (937) 886-5196.

Catholic HEART — experiencing Christ through liturgy and service

By David Cooley.

Around 140 youth and youth ministers from across the country came to the Diocese of Covington to serve the local community June 30–July 6. Bishop Brossart High School in Alexandria was home base for Catholic HEART WorkCamp, an international youth-friendly, Christ-centered organization dedicated to service, connection and loving others, headquartered in Orlando, Florida.

This is the second time Bishop Brossart High School served as a host site; the first time was in 2017. Each summer more than 13,000 youth go on mission trips through this organization around the country to restore homes, feed the hungry, lift the spirits of children, bring joy to the elderly and disabled, and offer assistance while partnering with social agencies.

The missionary campers stayed in the school facility at Bishop Brossart for the week. They began each day with Mass and then broke into teams, working at many different sites throughout the region. The group collectively worked more than 5,750 hours during the week. They served in soup kitchens, food pantries and worked for organizations like HONK (Housing Opportunities of Northern Kentucky), People Working Cooperatively and the Rose Garden Home Mission. Groups painted at St. Anthony School, Taylor Mill, organized crafts and activities for the aged and infirm at Carmel Manor, assisted elderly neighbors at their homes, helped with minor construction projects and cleaned properties.

In addition to service projects each day, the evenings were filled with music, skits, games and spiritual enrichment. Donna Heim, former Bishop Brossart religion teacher and Catholic minister at NKU’s Newman Center, managed the work camp.

“These campers worked hard. What I love about Catholic HEART is that it is the epitome of what it means to be Catholic packed into one week,” said Mrs. Heim. “It is like a service-learning retreat; not just serving people but also loving them as Christ does.”

Mrs. Heim said that the experience has a very positive impact on the campers and those they serve.

“It’s a win-win situation,” she said. “The campers get to experience the joy of serving others, homes in the community get restored and the people served feel loved and develop a relationship with the campers.”

Father Robert Rottgers, pastor, St. Philip Parish, Melbourne, served as the chaplain for the camp; Lee Roessler Band led the worship music; and Charles Marks, junior high teacher at St. Thomas School, Ft. Thomas, gave three presentations on the theme — “Radiance” — and how Christians are called to shine with the light of Christ. As part of the experience, adoration was offered as well as reconciliation during evening ceremonies.

Students from Bishop Brossart High School also took part in the week, serving as a hospitality committee for those visiting and living at the school. Three recent graduates — JD Schumacher, Justin Kiefer and Samantha (Sam) Webster — served those who were serving others.

“It was a great experience; not only do I think that we helped them but this experience also helped me in my faith. When you are in an environment like that it is hard not to take a step forward. Everyone there was working toward the same thing,” said Mr. Schumacher. “It was just awesome.”

Mr. Kiefer said that his favorite part was the fellowship he experienced with the campers from all over the country and worshiping Christ together.

“During the week I had an experience that really changed me. It isn’t something that I can explain but I feel it,” he said. Mr. Kiefer was inspired and is hoping to become a member of the trained Catholic HEART Workcamp team next year.

Service is very important to Miss Webster, who is also thinking about applying to become a member of the national team next year.

“Catholic HEART Workcamp allowed me to see a larger community of youth that were super passionate about helping the community and those around them. I’m struck by the joy and the passion and the faith that the whole experience brought to everyone involved,” she said.

“This is a great way to go around and spread Christ’s message and show everyone love and compassion, and teach other young people how valuable and how important service is for ourselves and our community — locally and globally.”

Mrs. Heim said that a lot of young people come to camp because they like to volunteer and serve, but she noticed something more happening below the surface.

“It seemed to me that many of them have not had that personal encounter with Christ. They know of him but they didn’t know him in such a personal way; I have seen this camp change that. Through the worship and the liturgy, tied in with the service, they experienced something that they hadn’t experienced before,” she said.

“This is what we are all about — the sacraments, the power of a community united around Christ, serving our brothers and sisters in need, worshiping together and enjoying each other’s company. It is one of those ideal moments in time when you can see what the Church is, what people do in Christ’s name.”

‘The Marriage Journey’ — an enrichment conference

By David Cooley.

Married couples at every stage are invited to an enrichment experience in the Diocese of Covington!

Family is central to God’s plan. With this in mind, the diocesan Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation, with its Family Life Ministry Advisory Board (FLMAB) and the approval of Bishop Roger Foys, will undertake a dynamic effort to elevate the meaning and understanding of the sacrament of matrimony in the diocese. Part of this effort — a marriage enrichment conference, “The Marriage Journey” — will be held Sept. 21, 8 a.m.–3 p.m., at St. Barbara Parish, Erlanger.

The focus of this effort is to raise awareness of the sanctity, uniqueness and importance of the sacrament of marriage. There is no denying that it is a grand vision but it is one that hinges on the undeniable fact that a strong, faith-filled couple is the nucleus of a faith-filled family, which in turn becomes part of the nuclei of a strong parish, diocese and community at large that will effect change in the world.

The marriage enrichment conference is a direct response to a survey that was conducted to assess how parishes in the diocese support, build up and provide resources to married couples. The conclusion of the survey found that there was little support for the sacrament of matrimony and for the couples themselves.

“The question was what could we do as a faith community to help strengthen and support the married couple,” said Terri Brass, a member of the FLMAB. She and her husband, George, are involved with developing and carrying out the marriage enrichment conference.

“We are a faith community and just like the early Christians we need to support each other. We have to learn to help each other, trust each other and pray for each other,” she said. “This is a format where couples will be able to review aspects of their relationship privately, have an opportunity to experience community and, on their own, decide where they need to redirect — be it large or small changes.”

Mr. Brass compared this enrichment journey to a spiritual retreat that priests and deacons might partake in to strengthen their resolve to live out their vocation.

“Bishops and priests go on retreats to review where they are in their relationship with God and others and redirect if they need to, many jobs offer trainings and refreshers, but if you look at marriage and the idea of a lifelong commitment to each other there is very little offered in terms of building up that relationship,” he said.

“Most couples don’t realize that we became the sign of the sacrament when we were married,” Mr. Brass said. “We become a visible sign of Christ’s love here on earth. We make Christ’s love visible through our behavior and relationship that reflects love, understanding and, at times, forgiveness. That is our charism. There are only seven sacraments and we kind of shortchange the sacrament of matrimony.”

Mrs. Brass said that it is important for Catholic couples to learn to live out marriage as a sacrament.

“George and I were married 10 years before we really began to understand what it means to live marriage as a sacrament. We were out there doing the worldly thing — two people trying to match up to what the world thought we should be instead of what God thought we should be; it was a façade. It was a hard lesson to learn,” she said.

“There is a difference in being a married couple and living marriage as a sacrament, and that is something that couples will hear more about at this conference,” Mrs. Brass said.

“If we are a reflection of God’s love in the world then he does have expectations of us; how we act and treat each other is important and we need to be responsible to certain aspects of the relationship,” she said. “Our hope is that this event will open some hearts and open some eyes to journeying toward God, being motivated to continue and understanding that there is a reason to be the best you can be.”

According to Isaak A. Isaak, director, Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation, the Family Life Ministry Advisory Board is working very hard to make the conference not only enriching but also fun.

“They are planning a lot of things for that day,” he said. “Some of the plans include such things as, the celebration of the holy sacrifice of the Mass with our bishop, various talks prepared by a priest and married couples, and adoration of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.”

Mr. Isaak said that he believes the marriage enrichment conference is very important and much needed in the diocese; it will encourage married couples to live out the beauty of this sacrament, he said.

“Married couples need the spiritual support and encouragement of our bishop, the priests and their fellow parishioners. They need to know and feel that Jesus himself is walking with them, and not abandoning them to struggle alone in this world,” said Mr. Isaak. “Moreover, married couples need to know that Jesus himself gives them the grace in their journey. He gives them his free gift of strength and power in the sacrament of marriage. This strength and power of the sacrament can help married couples resist the many sins and evils that threaten marriage.”

Whether couples have been married for six weeks, six years or 60+ years, all are invited and encouraged to attend.

“There will be something there for you to identify with and some golden nugget for you to take home and make a difference in your marriage,” Mrs. Brass said.

Space is limited. Early registration is recommended or call (859) 392-1500. The cost is $25 per couple, which includes a light breakfast, lunch and refreshments. For more information e-mail [email protected]

How to answer pro-choice arguments: Part 1 — ‘Science’

By Caitlin Shaughnessy Dwyer.

This article is the first of a three-part series. Future articles will address logic, the law, and “hard cases.”

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15-16)

Are you comfortable talking about being pro-life? Many of us aren’t. We may be convinced that abortion is wrong, but when it comes to sharing our convictions with others, we tend to clam up. We want to say something, but we don’t know where to begin.

There is a simple strategy that you can use to make these difficult conversations easier. If someone expresses that she is pro-choice or undecided, you can ask the following question: “If you were convinced that the unborn child is a human life, would you still support abortion?”

This question does two things. First, it invites the person to examine her ​own​ position. She must decide: is abortion still ok if the unborn child is a human life? ​Second​, it cuts your own work in the conversation in half:

— If the person answers “No” — meaning that if she accepted the unborn child as a human life, she would ​not ​support abortion — then you have a conversation about ​science​ on your hands.

— If she answers, “Yes” — meaning that, even if she accepted the unborn child as a human life, she would still support abortion — then you are entering into a conversation about the legal and philosophical question of ​personhood:​ Which human beings are ​persons​ who have basic rights?

This article will focus on the scientific conversation, while a forthcoming article will focus on personhood.

If your listener agrees she would not support abortion if she were convinced the unborn child is a human life, tell her you are going to share why you are convinced that the unborn child ​is a human life from the first moment of fertilization.

First, the unborn child is ​human because he has human DNA. There is universal scientific consensus regarding this fact: a complete ​human genome made up of a unique set of 46 chromosomes (23 from each parent) is present at fertilization. The child is not a chicken, or a rabbit. He is not one kind of thing that turns into another kind of thing. He is always human.

Second, the unborn child is ​alive because he exhibits the characteristics of life that scientists generally use to determine whether an entity is living. You don’t have to remember all of these, but I’m going to list them here for reference:

  1. made of one of more cells;
  2. has DNA;
  3. metabolizes;
  4. maintains homeostasis;
  5. is responsive to environment;
  6. grows and develops; and
  7. reproduces (meaning an entity that can reproduce even if reproduction isn’t possible until adulthood).

An unborn child meets all criteria.

At this point, you can pause and ask, “When do you think life begins?”

This is a Golden Rule moment: treat this person the way you would want to be treated. Really listen, and show that you are listening to her and seeking to understand her thoughts by repeating back her definition of when life begins.

She may present an objection to your argument, such as, “Ok, it’s alive, but at the beginning it’s just a clump of cells! My skin cell is alive and human, but it’s not a ​human being​.” Here, it is helpful to explain that the unborn child is an ​organism​, a self-directing entity that coordinates its own growth and including the right to development and will mature into an adult member of its species if given a proper environment and adequate nutrition. A skin cell cannot mature into an adult human.

It would also be helpful to share basic facts of fetal development. Begin by explaining that words like “zygote,” “morula,” “embryo” and “fetus” are terms used to describe ​phases of development of a human child before birth (just like we use “newborn,” “toddler,” and “adolescent” after birth). This is an important clarification because some people use these words as though they were describing different ​non-human kinds of beings.​ A baby is human and exhibits the characteristics of life at each phase of development.

During the first few days of development (zygote and morula phase), the baby is already communicating with the mother by sending her body chemical signals. These signals tell the mom’s body to keep making progesterone, so that she will not menstruate and lose the endometrial lining that the baby needs to successfully implant. The baby also sends signals to suppress the mother’s local immune system so that her body will allow the baby to implant (the baby has different DNA than the mom and our bodies tend to attack or reject foreign DNA).

During the embryo stage (2-8 weeks), the baby’s heart starts to beat at just 21 days after conception. Many women do not even know they are pregnant at this point. At six weeks, brain waves can be detected. By 8.5 weeks, every organ is in place and unique fingerprints have formed. At this age, babies react to touch and there is some evidence that babies can feel pain.

During the fetal stage (9 weeks until birth), the baby continues to grow and develop, and by 20 weeks, there is compelling evidence that babies can feel pain. For this reason, twelve states have banned abortion after 20 weeks citing fetal pain.

You might ask if the person has ever seen an ultrasound, and if not, offer to pull one up on YouTube.

Another objection that your listener might present is the claim that the baby is just part of the woman’s body. The points that we have already covered above can help you respond to this; you can point out again that the baby has ​unique DNA. If he were part of the mother’s body, they would both share the same DNA. The baby also has his own heart with his own blood (often a different blood type than the mother). He has his own brain that directs his own movements and bodily functions. He is a unique,​ distinct​ human being.

Finally, when having these conversations, always remember that the goal is not to “win” the argument, but to speak the truth in love for the genuine good of the other. Ask questions, listen, and lovingly respond through the guidance of the Spirit. The person will not only remember ​what you said, but ​how y​ou said it. Your message about dignity, given in a way that respects her dignity, will resonate in her heart.

Caitlin Shaughnessy Dwyer is an Instructor of Theology at Thomas More University. She and her family are members of St. Pius X Church in Edgewood. This “We Choose Life” article first appeared in the July 19, 2019, edition of the Messenger.

General Tips:

  1. Ask questions. Begin by making lots of statements about your own position can be off-putting. Asking good questions can invite a person to more carefully reflect on her own position. A question could be as simple as, “Could you share with me why you think that?”
  2. Plant the seed; don’t give a lecture. The article provided today is not meant to be a script and you don’t need to cover every point to have an impactful conversation. You can ask a question, listen, then share what you think might be helpful based on the person’s response. If the conversation is going well you can ask, listen and share again. If the person is not receptive, you might try to engage in dialogue again another day.
  3. Empathize and find common ground wherever you can.
  4. Be calm, humble, kind, respectful and joy-filled. So much about the message is conveyed by the demeanor of the messenger!

“To accept the fact that, after fertilization has taken place, a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion … It is plain experimental evidence.” – Dr. Jerome Lejeune, discoverer of Trisomy 21 as the genetic basis of Down Syndrome

“​It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.” – Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard Medical School


Classroom Aide – Mary, Queen of Heaven

Mary, Queen of Heaven is seeking an individual to be a part-time classroom aide and recess monitor for the 2019-20 school year. Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and references to Principal Meg Piatt at [email protected].

School Bus Driver – St. Pius X

St. Pius X School is looking for a candidate to drive an afternoon bus route from 1:30-3:00 daily. The qualified candidate must be Virtus compliant, complete a background check and fingerprint screening, and hold a current CDL (B license) with a school endorsement and passenger endorsements.  Qualified candidates can send their resumes to Mrs. Jennifer Casson at [email protected] by August 2, 2019.


The Diocese of Covington in Northern Kentucky has an immediate need for Full-Time Groundskeepers at the Diocesan Cemeteries.  Primary responsibilities include the many labor-intensive tasks associated with interments, maintenance, repair, construction, cleaning, and operation of the Cemeteries’ facilities and grounds.  Previous experience operating power equipment is preferred.  Interested individuals should contact Stephen Koplyay, SPHR, by email at [email protected] , or by fax at (859)392-1589.  EOE.

Childcare Teachers & Assistants – St. Cecilia

St. Cecilia School’s Early Learning Center is seeking childcare teachers and assistants to work with children ages 1-5.  The Early Learning Center will open on August 26th, 2019.  Candidates must:


  • Implement the practices learned in the Orientation class
  • Plan/Assist in planning and implementing of the schedule of activities
  • Assist in preparing and serving snacks and/or lunch
  • Actively supervise and engage children
  • Coordinate with the Early Learning Center Director on licensure and STARS
  • Attend appropriate staff meetings, professional development and inservice trainings
  • Maintain a clean and safe environment for the children
  • Fulfill  further duties as assigned
  • Experience in working with young children is preferred



Please submit a cover letter and resume to Director Kim Murphy at [email protected] or call 859-363-4311 for more information.

Afterschool Program Teachers – St. Cecilia

St.Cecilia Elementary School in Independence is seeking applications for Afterschool Program teachers for the 2019-2020 school year. This is an ideal job for a high school student.  Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: assistance with homework and actively supervising and engaging children ages kindergarten through eighth grade. Hours are from 2:00-6:00 five days a week with flexibility in the hours.  To apply please submit a resume and references to Director Kim Murphy at [email protected] or call 859-363-43141 for more information.

Summer Mission Collection to support urban schools/”Have it All – Choose Love” video

By Laura Keener.

The 2019 Summer Mission Collection will take place in parishes between July 6-7 and August 10-11 throughout the Diocese of Covington. Again this year, the summer mission collection will benefit the diocese’s mission territory —urban schools, known collectively as the Alliance for Catholic Urban Education (ACUE). Several volunteer speakers will be canvassing the diocese speaking at parishes in support of the collection.

Proceeds from the 2019 Summer Mission Collection are used for tuition assistance at the diocese’s six ACUE elementary schools — Holy Cross Elementary, Holy Family School, Prince of Peace Montessori and St. Augustine School, Covington; Holy Trinity School, Bellevue; and St. Anthony School, Taylor Mill.

This year, contributors to the Summer Mission Collection will have the satisfaction of knowing that their donations will help bring students to ACUE schools that last school year were the beneficiaries of grants that have bolstered curriculum in both math and the teachings of the Catholic faith.

Thanks to a grant from The Charles H. Dater Foundation, students in grades K-6 at five of the six ACUE schools now have a new math curriculum — Sadlier Math. Sadlier Math is a rigorous, comprehensive math program that challenges students and improves math comprehension and retention.

The new curriculum is both text and web-based. The web-based components rely on the new one-to-one, student-to-device status of the schools. All students at the six ACUE schools now have access to an electronic device for use in the classroom. “Technology such as this is so important to 21st-century learning, as noted by several individual donors to ACUE, particularly Al and Esther Kenkel who contributed hundreds of Chromebooks to the schools,” said Beth Ruehlmann, development director, ACUE.

In addition to funding the new math curriculum, the Dater Foundation also provided monies for miscellaneous math materials for student and classroom use.

“These consumables help students to grasp more fully and retain important math concepts,” said Ms. Ruehlmann.

Also last year, Holy Trinity School, Bellevue, piloted the “Choose Love Enrichment Program.” Pattie Dietz, retired educator from Miami University, and her husband, Tom, brought the program to Holy Trinity School.

Scarlett Lewis developed the Choose Love program. Her son, Jesse Lewis died in the Sandy Hook shooting. Since then she was inspired to develop a program that engages students in social and emotional learning. The Choose Love program brings awareness to the benefits of courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion and encourages students to allow these traits to guide their thoughts and actions. A video clip of Holy Trinity students singing the “Have it All, Choose Love” theme song can be viewed below:

Mrs. Ruehlmann said, “Thank you,” to donors for their support of ACUE and the Summer Mission Collection.

“Through their continued support, our ACUE schools are far more financially stable. The schools are improving academically and our urban parishes have been able to reduce their financial participation in the operation of the schools,” she said. “Our donors have helped our schools and our parishes through their critical support of the ACUE mission.”

For more information on the 2019 Summer Mission Collection effort, contact the diocesan Office of Stewardship and Mission Services at (859) 392-1500 or by e-mail at [email protected]