HESE PAST TWO WEEKS, we are blessed to have Bishop Roger Foys, Bishop of the Diocese of Covington, KY, and a former priest of the Diocese of Steubenville, staying with us in the rectory. Bishop Foys is a very good friend of my pastor (you can probably tell from the picture on the right). It is a new experience for me since I have never lived with a bishop before. It is great to be able to serve his Masses. He is a very kind and friendly person, and like many bishops, he has many stories to tell.
Bishop Foys was consecrated and installed as the Bishop of Covington in 2002. Under his care, the vocation to the priesthood increase significantly. While many parishes were being merged around the country, he didn’t close a single church in his diocese. He encouraged his faithful not to destroy those nice and old churches in the diocese. He has encouraged his priests to move the tabernacles to the center and put up crucifixes in the newer churches.
Some of you may remember the famous pastoral letter and decree he wrote back in 2011, when the Third Edition of the Roman Missal came out, and it made it on Fr. Z’s blog. Among his many directions, the address on the proper posture of the faithful during the Our Father (4c in the decree) was widely discussed. Here is a PDF file of Bishop Foys’ Pastoral Letter with the Decree Bulletin Insert from 2011:
Since this is a blog mainly focus on Sacred Music, I would like to highlight specifically his points on Liturgical Music. In his decree’s point 2, he made the Chant Ordinaries in the Roman Missal a mandatory setting that all his faithful should learn it. He explains:
a. This one setting is mandatory so as to foster a unified participation of the faithful at Mass throughout the Diocese.
And here is another good point regarding the proper place of the choir:
5. That choirs and other musicians use choir lofts in churches that are structured as such. While this is not mandated, we strongly recommend it.
He then continues to explain the role of the choir and the purpose of the sanctuary:
a. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, informs us of the importance that choirs have in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and that they have a distinct role in fostering the active participation of the faithful by means of supporting the people’s singing. (see GIRM 103-104) It should be noted that the primary purpose of any choir is to support the singing of the faithful gathered in prayer, so as to allow the full, active, and conscious participation of all the faithful. While this does not eliminate pieces of Sacred Music restricted to just the choir, it is a reminder that choirs are not preforming at Mass.
b. The sanctuary is reserved for the Priest Celebrant, concelebrants, the Deacon and the other ministers who serve at the Altar. (see GIRM 294)
I am very thankful that I get to know this faithful Bishop of Covington. May God bless him and his work.