St. Elizabeth's music minister departs for Vatican internship with United Nations
BOONE — Ricky Kovacs, the music minister at St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country Church, is leaving the place he calls home for an internship an ocean away. Switzerland will become his home for the next three months as he completes an internship with the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, which is led by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer for the Vatican at the U.N.
Kovacs has been involved with the music program at St. Elizabeth Church since 2004. He came to Appalachian State University to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in religion and philosophy with a minor in criminal justice. During his junior year, he served as music chair for the Catholic Campus Ministry.
Pictured: Ricky Kovacs, the music minister at St. Elizabeth of Hill Country Church, is heading off to an internship with the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva Switzerland. (Amber Mellon, Catholic News Herald)
Father Joseph V. Mulligan, pastor of St. Elizabeth Church, approached Kovacs to serve as music minister for the parish during the young man's senior year. What started out as a college internship soon became a permanent job with the parish. He continued serving as music minister as he started studying for a Master of Arts in theology from the University of Notre Dame through a distance-learning program in 2009, followed by a Masters of Arts in political science and international relations from Appalachian State University in 2010.
To complete his graduate work, Kovacs said he sought an internship that combined his passions for both religion and political science. He found two opportunities: one with the State Department and the other at the U.N. Permanent Mission. After he applied, he was ranked among the top 10 finalists for the State Department internship; he was awarded the Vatican internship in Switzerland.
He said he never thought he would have such an opportunity abroad.
While he is in Switzerland working at the Vatican's Permanent Mission, Kovacs will attend U.N. hearings and write reports on issues related to the Church – specifically on international religious freedom and human rights. He will also participate in other duties given to him until his internship ends in late June.
After he completes his internship, Kovacs will come back to the United States to complete his comprehensive exams at the University of Notre Dame and finish his graduate degree.
After that, he said, he does not have any firm plans, remaining open to wherever God may lead him.
He said he is excited about his internship, but sad to be leaving Boone and St. Elizabeth Church. The parish has become a real family to him, he said, and he will miss the parishioners' daily presence in his life.
— Amber Mellon, correspondent
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