Saturday, June 01, 2002

Bishop named to Covington diocese

Roger Foys coming from Steubenville

By Cindy Schroeder,
The Cincinnati Enquirer
and The Associated Press

        COVINGTON — Pope John Paul II has appointed Monsignor Roger J. Foys of Steubenville the 10th bishop of the 89,000-member Diocese of Covington.

        Monsignor Foys, 56, is vicar general of the Diocese of Steubenville.

        “I'm really eager to meet the people, and I pledge that I'll do the best that I can to be a good shepherd,” Monsignor Foys said Friday.

        The Chicago native replaces Bishop Robert Muench, who became bishop of the 218,000-member Diocese of Baton Rouge, La., on March 14 after six years in Covington. Bishop-elect Foys will be installed July 15.

        “He is very pastoral, he is very caring about people, and he puts the heart of the church above everything else,” said Monsignor Kurt Kemo, judicial vicar for the Diocese of Steubenville. “I know that he is going to make one of the greatest bishops in the United States, if not the world.”

        The Diocese of Steubenville, on the Ohio-West Virginia border, has 45,000 Roman Catholics — about half as many as the Diocese of Covington. The announcement of Monsignor Foys' appointment came just one day after a $50 million lawsuit was filed against the Roman Catholic dioceses in Lexington and Covington, alleging both covered up complaints of sexual abuse. Four men and one woman filed the suit in Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington. Details of the abuse and the names of the accused priests or parishes did not appear in the lawsuit.

        “It would be premature for me to respond to the lawsuit,” said Monsignor Foys. He added he is aware of lawsuits and accusations of sexual misconduct against priests both in the Tristate and nationally. He said the Diocese of Steubenville has not faced similar lawsuits.

        The man who described himself as “surprised, humbled and overwhelmed” by his new appointment said that he looks forward to his first visit to Northern Kentucky on Monday. After a news conference, Monsignor Foys will meet his future staff members and take a whirlwind tour of the diocese, which includes the newly refurbished Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption.

        Members of the Diocese of Steubenville described bishop-elect Foys as a dynamic leader and speaker who has demonstrated his dedication to the Roman Catholic faith in numerous ways.

        “The people of the Diocese of Covington are very, very lucky,” said Vivian Kuhn, 69, a long-time member of the St. Joseph/St. Francis Churches in Toronto, Ohio, where Monsignor Foys served as pastor for 16 years. “We're sad to see him go, but this is a wonderful opportunity for a very deserving person.”

        Monsignor Gerald Calovini, director of communications for the Diocese of Steubenville, said that Covington's Bishop-elect has been instrumental in recruiting people for seminaries in the Diocese of Steubenville, and that he has raised millions of dollars as the 13-year leader of the diocesan Parish Share Campaign.

        He said Bishop-elect Foys “is very dedicated to the faith, and very dedicated to the Church and the Holy Father.”

        Northern Kentucky Catholics have said that they hope Bishop Muench's successor will share his dedication to Catholic education, the promotion of religious vocations and his devotion to the faith.

        Bishop-elect Foys, who serves as pastoral administrator of Catholic Central High School in Steubenville, said he has “a great love of Catholic education,” especially in an era “when it often seems that we're living in a godless society.” He added a Catholic education helps followers become “more deeply rooted in the faith.”

        In a statement issued Friday, the Most Rev. Daniel E. Pilarczyk, leader of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, welcomed Bishop-elect Foys to Greater Cincinnati.

        He described him as “an experienced and dedicated servant of the Church (who) brings to Northern Kentucky a vast store of wisdom.”

        “The Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the Diocese of Covington have enjoyed a warm relationship for a long time, and I look forward to continuing that relationship under the leadership of the new bishop of Covington,” Archbishop Pilarczyk said. “May God bless him and make his ministry fruitful.”


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