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

By David Cooley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cafeteria Cook – Blessed Sacrament

Blessed Sacrament School in Ft. Mitchell is seeking a cafeteria Cook. The work week will average 25-30 hours, and the schedule follows the school calendar. Primary duties consist of daily assistance with meal preparation under the direction of the School Lunch Office. Interested candidates may contact Mrs. Jackie Kaiser by email at jkaiser@covdio.org.

Planned Giving Officer

The Glenmary Home Missioners seeks a proven development professional to secure and raise funds through the management of planned gift programs such as annuities, charitable trusts, bequests and grants. College degree preferred. Five years of experience of practical experience in development with a working knowledge of planning giving instruments. Familiarity with fundraising software and windows applications.

The successful candidate must be able to develop an annual plan for identification, cultivation and solicitation of planned gifts. Must be able to maintain and foster relationships with donors to determine the best way to secure their planned giving capacity. Coordinate fundraising efforts and the annual Father Bishop Legacy Society event.

Regular frequent travel required outside of normal work location to meet with Glenmary supporters throughout the country.  Submit your resume and cover letter to Michael Schneider, Glenmary Home Missioners, P.O. Box 465618, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246 or apply via email at mschneider@glenmary.org.  No phone calls please.

Finance Director – Villa Madonna Academy

Villa Madonna Academy, a co-ed K-12 Catholic, Benedictine school founded by the Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery and located in Villa Hills, Kentucky, is seeking an energetic individual to serve as our Director of Finance, a key position within the Academy’s leadership team.  Working in collaboration with the other members of the team (the Executive Director, the Principals, and the Directors of Advancement and Recruiting), the Director of Finance provides financial leadership and has the primary responsibility for the financial administration of the school.    The position reports to the Executive Director and has a dotted line relationship to the Academy’s Treasurer.  The Director of Finance will apply his/her financial expertise to Financial Operations, Controls and Compliance, and Financial Planning and Reporting.

The successful candidate for this position must possess a number of attributes and skill sets including accounting and financial management experience, technical expertise, organizational, communication, and analytical skills.  A bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a related field and five years or more of relevant work experience is required.   Please email your cover letter, resume and professional references to Executive Director Ms. Pam McQueen at pmcqueen@villamadonna.net.

Kindergarten Long-Term Substitute Teacher – St. Henry Elementary

St. Henry Catholic School in Elsmere, Kentucky is seeking two long term substitute teachers for Kindergarten.  One position will begin in February and the second will begin in April.  Interested candidates, should contact Cindy Lageman at clageman@sthenryel.com.

Messenger Series on the Eucharist #5 (part 2) – The Eucharist in its relationship with the Church

By Father Michael Hennigen.

The Messenger continues it’s series on the Eucharist with Father Michael Hennigen offering a 2-part reflection on how the Eucharist answers our longing for God (part 1) and unites us all in the Mystical Body of Christ (part 2).

Everlasting life is to be in “common union” with God, to be one with him. We are one with him by receiving his body and blood, just as he taught us in: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”(John 6:54)

God calls each of us to perfect and everlasting communion with him. He gives the time of earthly life to us as an opportunity to either cooperate with him in achieving this goal or to reject his offer of salvation. In the “Eu-charis-t,” the word “charis,” in Greek, means “grace.” It is by God’s grace that participation in his divine life is possible and we are saved.

The Eucharist is food for the journey; the strength and nourishment we need as we journey to our heavenly home. In the Eucharist we are in communion — union — with God and each other. It is the Eucharist that makes the Church one with Christ. The Eucharist unifies the Church — the Mystical Body of Christ.

In the Eucharist the members of his Mystical Body are joined to Christ, the head. The Sacrament makes the Church. Every offering of the Eucharist is simultaneously the sacrifice of those participating at that time, all those united to the Church and all those who have entered heavenly glory.

The nature of the Church as the Mystical Body is communion with God. By the gift of the Blessed Sacrament, the Church gives what she is — Christ’s Body — and becomes what she is more fully, the Body of Christ. We become what we receive; we become “another Christ,” Jesus to others, his hands and his feet.

The Eucharist commits us to others. Jesus sacrificed himself for us. We are to lay down our lives for others as he laid down his life for us. We pray that he make of us a sacrifice, a holy offering, to God and to others.

The Eucharist commits us to the poor — how could we withhold material goods from those with whom we share all spiritual goods?

God created the world for communion with his divine life. Through the sacraments, he unites us to himself and makes us temples of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the world. The Church — the Body of the Christ — in union with Christ the Head, continues his incarnate presence on earth. We grow in sacramental living as Christ lives in us and through us. We are to let God’s love flow through us. We are conduits of his love, sharing it through our humanity, letting it flow like a mountain stream.

Father Michael Hennigen is parochial vicar at St. Pius X Parish, Edgewood.

Messenger series on the Eucharist #5 (part 1) — Our longing for God

By Father Michael Hennigen.

The Messenger continues it’s series on the Eucharist with Father Michael Hennigen offering a 2-part reflection on how the Eucharist answers our longing for God (part 1) and unites us all in the Mystical Body of Christ (part 2).

One of my favorite places to go ever since I was young is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. My family and I would always stay in Gatlinburg, and we still go down as a family every year in the summer.

Visiting the Great Smoky Mountains is spiritually uplifting, a kind of retreat for me. Every morning we go to Mass at St. Mary’s in town and then spend the day out in nature. Nature is God’s “first word” to us, showing us that he created us, he loves us and he sustains us. In the Gospels it is mentioned many times that Jesus would go off alone to pray, to be with his Father, out in the wilderness, up on the mountain alone to pray. Mountains in Scripture are often the place of encounter with God. Psalm 144:5 says, “Lord, incline your heavens and come down; touch the mountains and make them smoke.”

It was about 10 years ago on one of our family trips to the “Smokies” we decided to buy huge inner tubes called River Rats at the Walmart in Pigeon Forge. We went tubing in the Greenbriar and Elkmont areas of the park. We fell in love with this activity and now do it every year. I notice the beautiful mountain streams — the cool, clear, crystal water — and how they keep flowing, they never dry up. The water is refreshing to see, to listen to, and to get in to. It always reminds me of the verse in Scripture, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)

We long for God, we thirst for God, we are made for God. We long for his life — eternal life — to be one with him. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Our Lord thirsts for us. Jesus’ words on the cross, “I thirst,” demonstrate that he wants to share his life with us. Only in God is our soul — our thirst — quenched, so that we will never run dry.

In the book of Ezekiel, chapter 47, the prophet speaks of water flowing from the temple giving life to the earth. Jesus is the “New Temple,” as he speaks of himself, his body as the Temple — God with us — and from his side came forth blood and water, the sacramental life of the Church. Water and blood are signs of life.

From the side of Christ came forth his bride, the Church, just as from the side of Adam came forth Eve. He gave us his divine life, his body and blood, the Eucharist. The word Eucharist means “thanksgiving,” and we are thankful for the gift of his divine life, which is everlasting life, salvation from sin and death. We long for salvation like a deer longing for flowing streams; our souls thirsts for God.

Father Michael Hennigen is parochial vicar at St. Pius X Parish, Edgewood.

Long Term Substitute – Notre Dame Academy

Notre Dame Academy in Park Hills, Kentucky is seeking a long term sub in Religion from January 3, 2019 to March 1, 2019.    Training and experience in teaching high school Religion is required.  Please send a letter of interest and resume to ndahr@ndapandas.org.  Notre Dame Academy is a Catholic all girls high school sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame.


The Diocese of Covington’s Catholic Charities office is seeking to hire a Counselor for our Mental Health and Pregnancy/Adoption Programs. Depending on a candidate’s qualifications, the job may be anywhere from 24 to 40 hours per week, with flexibility. The Counselor performs all the duties of a Licensed Counselor for our general counseling practice, serving individuals and families. Additionally, the Counselor provides services to pregnant clients, their partners, and/or family, including counseling, case management, parenting support, foster care coordination and supervision, referral, and advocacy. Sessions will include assessment, case management, and diagnosis and therapy to children, families, and adults within the outpatient program. Candidates must be practicing Roman Catholics with a Master’s degree and three years of related experience, including advanced licensure or being within at most one year of that. Interested candidates should send a comprehensive resume or C-V including compensation history, along with the names and contact email addresses of at least three references to Stephen Koplyay, SPHR, email skoplyay@covdio.org, fax 859-392-1589.

Thomas More earns university status

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

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

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

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

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

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