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.

Students with learning differences: the transition to college

Monica Yeamans, Editorial assistant.

Angie Brinkman, director of Thomas More University’s Institute for Learning Differences, will facilitate a presentation for parents, educators and other professionals working with students with learning differences such as ADHD, autism or other specific learning disabilities. The presentation will highlight the important differences between support services at the high school level compared to the college level.

The presentation will be held Nov. 20 beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Science Lecture Hall at Thomas More University.

The discussion will include changes in educational laws and regulations, the many challenges faced by students with learning disabilities in college and some best practices in supporting those students during their transition to college.

The presentation will “help families understand they can still get support at the college level but it’s quite different from what they receive in high school,” said Ms. Brinkman. “Understanding the process and understanding the law that governs the process and what they can expect at the college level are some things we try to communicate to families and to prepare them for that change.”

Ms. Brinkman said that every school has a department that helps students who have a documented learning difference find reasonable accommodations with classes. At TMU the Office of Student Accessibility is charged with that task.

“But not every school has a department like TMU’s Institute for Learning Differences. Our program offers fee-based services like tutoring, one-on-one, specialized tutoring for students with learning differences,” she said.

“We also help with things that we call executive functioning skills like how to organize and prioritize all the different tasks that come with each class; all the different deadlines that come with each class; how to set goals; how to adjust to the different type of schedule that students have on the college level. How at college students have to adjust to the fact that most of the learning takes place outside the classroom with independent learning and studying on their own. We can help them manage that, understand that and adjust to it. We help support them through that transition.”

The event is free to the public but RSVP is requested by calling 344-3582 or e-mail [email protected]

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.”

Seminary Ball draws record crowd, demonstrating what seminarians say, ‘Covington diocese is the best’

Laura Keener, Editor.

Each year the Seminary Ball grows as more parishes, schools and Catholic organizations continue their support of the seminarians studying for the priesthood in the Diocese of Covington. Over 560 people attended, Oct. 18, this year’s Seminary Ball held at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, Covington. And, again this year, 100 percent of schools in the Diocese of Covington demonstrated support of seminarians through prayers or contributions to the Seminarian Education Fund.

The diocese has 13 men studying at two seminaries — at the Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus are: Ethan Dierig, Devin Heffernan, Timothy Hillebrand, William Pikar, Zacharias Schoen and John Tarvin; at St. Vincent Seminary, LaTrobe are: Deacon Jordan Hainsey, Anthony Anderson, John Baumann, Michael Elmlinger, A.J. Gedney, Dale Nieberding and Joseph Rielage.

In addition to its 58 table sponsors, five Gold Patrons and 15 Silver Patrons, sponsors of the Seminary Ball included: Al and Esther Kenkel, Ordination Sponsor; Kentucky State Catholic Order of Foresters and St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Acolyte Sponsors; Fourth Street Performance Partners and St. Agnes Parish, Candidacy Sponsors; and Knights of Columbus of Northern Kentucky and Serra Club for Vocations, Northern Kentucky, Reception Co-sponsors. Michael Murray, director, and the staff of the diocesan Stewardship and Mission Services Office and the Seminary Ball Committee organized the event.

Father Daniel Schomaker, vicar general and assistant director of seminarians, was the master of ceremonies for the Seminary Ball. He explained that while the 2019 Seminary Ball is the 10th annual Seminary Ball, the history of the ball extends beyond 10 years.

In 1954, Bishop William Mulloy asked the newly founded Diocesan Council of Catholic Women to undertake a fundraising effort for the newly established Seminary of St. Pius X, Erlanger. On Jan. 22, 1955 at Summit Hills Country Club the first Seminary Guild Ball was held. The theme was “Symphony in Blue,” and was attended by over 200 people. The Seminary Guild Ball continued for 28 years. In 2010 Bishop Foys reinstituted a Seminary Ball not to support a seminary but to support the education and formation of the diocese’s seminarians.

Father Schomaker then introduced the seminarians — who performed two songs — and the evening’s keynote speaker/seminarian — Deacon Jordan Hainsey.

Deacon Hainsey became familiar with the Diocese of Covington while he was working as a graphic designer for St. Vincent Seminary. He said that when it came time to discern a vocation to the priesthood, many seminarians would encourage him to consider studying for their diocese. He became curious about the Diocese of Covington because its seminarians would boldly declare, “Our diocese is the best.”

“Something stirred in me to check it out; to see for myself what made Covington the greatest for these men studying for the priesthood,” Deacon Hainsey said.

On his first visit to Covington, Deacon Hainsey said, that he toured the Cathedral and Mother of God Church and other great churches of the diocese. “But I had been to Europe and I have seen beautiful churches.”

He also visited many local landmarks including Cincinnati’s burgeoning Over the Rhine area, the Cincinnati Art Museum and the quintessentially-Kentucky Bourbon Trail. “But I have been to plenty of places and experienced the culture,” he said.

But, he admitted, there was something different about the Diocese of Covington. Part of it is Bishop Roger Foys, he said. “I was incredibly impressed on how welcoming he was, how encouraging he was with me in discerning my call. We are truly very fortunate to have Bishop Foys as our shepherd.”

Another endearing quality of the diocese, Deacon Hainsey said, is its people and their support for priests and seminarians. “I’ve been bolstered by their prayers, and friendship — these authentic signs of support — because Covington truly loves their priests and seminarians.”

But, he said, what really sets the Diocese of Covington apart are things that its people sometimes take for granted — it’s growth.

“We are expanding schools. We are building additions to schools. We are operating a university. These are signs that Catholic education is alive and well in the Diocese of Covington.

“We are also beautifying churches. We are completing the façade of the Cathedral — that great structure that Bishop (Camillus) Maes saw as a great sign and symbol for the people of the diocese. This isn’t just decoration, this isn’t just adding things to make it more beautiful, it is a sign of this generation’s — of yours and my — faith. We’re here and we’re staying.”

Deacon Hainsey thanked attendees for their financial and spiritual support.

“Covington’s story is about growth, it’s about stewardship for the future and this is the reason we need good priests. Good priests begin with good seminarians that begins with good seminaries … Tonight I thank you for your support, first financial, because that’s what gets us through and gives us the best education to serve you in the future. But more than money is your prayers, it’s your zeal, it’s your faith in each of us that is really what brings laborers to the harvest.”

Bishop Foys closed the formal program with his own words of gratitude.

“We have really good people here who are faithful to the Lord and to his Word and to his Church. We do have a great diocese,” said Bishop Foys. “In the early days of the Church people were added to the rolls of followers of Jesus every day because they saw the witness of the faith in the early Christians. It’s the same in our day. We bring people to the faith by our witness to the faith. We are blessed in this diocese. Thank you for all you do.”


Part II: Amid great trials, Bishop Maes built a cathedral to ‘speak for centuries to come’