The Diocese of Grand Rapids is continuing to monitor the local and regional situation with COVID-19 (coronavirus).

UPDATE FOR APRIL 2:

Today, Governor Whitmer issued an executive order declaring Michigan schools closed for the remainder of the school year. In accord with the order, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids will remain closed through the end of the academic year to ensure the continued safety of our students, teachers, and their families.

A letter was issued to all parents and staff in Catholic schools from Superintendent David Faber.
Click here or visit Catholicschools4u to read the letter (English and Español).

UPDATE FOR MARCH 23:

Today, Governor Whitmer issued an executive order requiring Michiganders to stay home, outside of critical functions, for the next three weeks.

Bishop Walkowiak issues the following directives for parishes and schools in the diocese, effective at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 24, in harmony with these government guidelines. For Frequently Asked Questions, click here.

(en Español)

  • All public Masses and all other liturgical and devotional services through Easter Monday, April 13, in the Diocese of Grand Rapids are canceled.
    • All Catholics within the territory of the Diocese of Grand Rapids are granted a dispensation from their obligation of attending Sunday Mass through April 13.
    • Further information on the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter will be forthcoming.
    • Sunday Mass will continue to be livestreamed from the cathedral for those who wish to view it. It can be viewed on FOX 17, on the diocesan website and Facebook page.
    • Catholics are encouraged to make a spiritual Communion, pray the rosary, or meditate on Sacred Scripture to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
  • Funerals are to be celebrated without Mass with only immediate family members present, limiting those gathered to 10.
    • Alternately, a committal service at the cemetery may be celebrated outdoors, with the appropriate social distancing guidelines in place, with a memorial Mass to be celebrated at a later date.
  • Individual confessions at the parish will remain available during regularly scheduled times.
  • Individual confessions will remain available on the evening of Thursday, March 26th from 5-8 p.m. as previously scheduled with due precautions being taken. Confessions should not take place in the confessional and should be set up in the main church with background music to protect privacy.
  • Parish baptisms and weddings are postponed until a later date. Please contact your pastor in a situation where the death of a loved one appears imminent.
  • Holy Communion is only available as Viaticum.
  • Confirmation Masses through Monday, April 13, have been canceled and will be rescheduled.
  • All Catholic Schools in the diocese remain closed in accordance with the Governor’s order. All schools will be closed to the public as of 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24. Essential staff may access the school building to provide food and remote learning programs and distribution with administrator approval.
  • Faith Formation classes are suspended until Tuesday, April 14 in accordance with the Governor’s order. Plans should be made to deliver religious instruction curriculum to families if possible.
  • Parish offices are closed to the public. Only essential staff such as a parish business manager may report as needed.
  • The diocesan offices at Cathedral Square are closed. Diocesan staff members are working from home to the extent possible and can be reached via email.

Frequently asked questions for the Faithful

Spiritual resources during COVID-19

These guidelines are in addition to those issued by Bishop Walkowiak earlier in March. These measures are intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Diocese of Grand Rapids will continue to be in consultation with the Kent County Health Department and other state and federal health officials. Further guidelines will be issued upon their recommendations.

As people of faith, let us pray for all affected by this virus, especially those who are sick or who have died as well as for all health care workers who are working diligently to protect us in this time.

Additional factual information regarding COVID-19 may be found on the following websites:
Kent County Health Department (or your local health department website)
State of Michigan
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

UPDATE FOR MARCH 17:

In compliance with Governor Whitmer’s March 17 executive order prohibiting all gatherings of more than 50 people in a shared indoor space, the Diocese of Grand Rapids has temporarily suspended ALL public Masses and all other liturgical and devotional services, effective immediately, through Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020.

Read Bishop Walkowiak’s letter to the Faithful (English | Español)

With this suspension, all Catholics within the territory of the Diocese of Grand Rapids are granted a dispensation from their obligation of attending Sunday Mass through April 5. Baptisms, weddings, and funerals may continue to be celebrated outside of Mass with no more than 50 people in attendance. Our March 26th evening of penance, “The Light is ON for You” as well as individual confession times may continue as scheduled.

UPDATE FOR MARCH 13:

The celebration of the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. We enshrine the divine law to give praise and worship to God on the Lord’s Day by the obligation to participate at Mass. We are however, now in the midst of a pandemic which calls for extraordinary measures. Promotion of the common good is one of the pillars of Catholic social teaching and Catholic life.

(en Español)

New state guidelines and executive orders were issued within the past 24 hours which have prompted our new guidelines:

  • Gov. Whitmer has banned all large gatherings over 250 people until Sunday, April 5.
  • Gov. Whitmer has closed all K-12 schools beginning Monday, March 16 through Sunday, April 5.

Bishop Walkowiak issues the following directives for parishes and schools in the diocese, effective immediately, in harmony with these government guidelines:

UPDATED PARISH & SCHOOL GUIDELINES (MARCH 13):

  • Weekend Masses through Sunday, March 29 in the Diocese of Grand Rapids have been canceled. However, the Church’s life of prayer must continue:
  • Weekday Masses, where less than 100 people are gathered, should continue in accord with the guidelines from March 11, 2020 (see below). 
  • Visits to the sick and homebound should continue. Normal cold/flu season guidelines should be followed.
  • Funeral Masses may be celebrated.
  • Confirmation Masses through Wednesday, April 1 have been canceled and will be rescheduled.
  • All Catholic Schools in the diocese are closed in accordance with the Governor’s order. (see above)
  • Faith Formation classes should be suspended until Monday, April 6 in accordance with the Governor’s order. Plans should be made to deliver religious instruction curriculum to families if possible.
  • Any event at a parish/school where more than 100 people are gathered in a single space indoors should be postponed or canceled until further notice.
    • Schools and parishes may consider drive thru or take-out options for fish fries where less than 100 people are gathered in a single space indoors.
  • Any event at a parish where less than 100 people are gathered in a single space indoors may continue at this time at the organizer’s/pastor’s discretion.
  • The March 26th evening of penance, “The Light is ON for You” should take place as scheduled. Any other communal penance services should be modified accordingly.
  • Meetings for the Our Shepherds – Our Future Capital Campaign will be postponed at this time. Updates will be communicated as we receive them.
  • If you are sick, please stay home.

These guidelines are in addition to those issued by Bishop Walkowiak on March 11 and March 12, 2020 (see below). These measures are intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Diocese of Grand Rapids will continue to be in consultation with the Kent County Health Department and other state and federal health officials. Further guidelines will be issued upon their recommendations.

As people of faith, let us pray for all affected by this virus, especially those who have died and for all health care workers who are working diligently to protect us during this time.

UPDATE FOR MARCH 12:

In response to recommendations from the State of Michigan, Bishop Walkowiak is issuing the following guidelines for parishes and schools in the diocese, effective immediately:

PARISH & SCHOOL GUIDELINES:

  • Daily and weekend Masses will continue as scheduled until further notice with the guidelines from March 11, 2020 (see below) in place.
  • Confirmation Masses will continue as scheduled as outlined above until further notice. Plans are being made to potentially offer a livestream of the Confirmation Mass for family and friends who may not be able to attend due to health concerns.
  • If you are sick, please stay home from Mass. The 10 a.m. Mass from the cathedral is televised on FOX 17, and on the diocesan website and Facebook page every week.
  • Any other parish or school events where more than 100 people are gathered in a single space indoors should be postponed or canceled until further notice.
    • Schools and parishes may consider drive-thru or take-out options for fish fries where less than 100 people are gathered in a singular indoor space.
  • All events in the Wege Conference Center at Cathedral Square Center with more than 100 attendees are postponed or canceled for the time being.
  • Catholic schools in the diocese are to remain open based on recommendations from the Kent County Health Department. It is not in the public interest to close schools at this time.
    • The Superintendent for the Office of Catholic Schools has signed a letter with all school districts in the Kent Intermediate School District (Kent ISD) with guidelines that all schools in the county will be following. Superintendents’ Letter (English | Español)
  • Faith Formation classes should proceed as normal, ensuring that less than 100 people are gathered in a single space indoors and with the normal cold/flu season guidelines and cancellation procedures in place.

These measures are intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Diocese of Grand Rapids will continue to be in consultation with the Kent County Health Department and other state and federal health officials. Further guidelines will be issued upon their recommendations. As people of faith, we pray for all affected by this virus, including those who have died.

UPDATE FOR MARCH 11:

Due to the first confirmed cases in the state of Michigan and given that many of our parishioners are considered high risk for contracting the virus, Bishop Walkowiak has issued the following guidelines for implementation at all Masses, effective immediately, until further notice:

(en Español)

  • The distribution of the Precious Blood of Christ is to be temporarily suspended at all Masses.
      • If you are a parishioner with a gluten sensitivity, please contact your pastor to discuss options.
      • It is left to the discretion of each communicant as to how they would like to receive the Body of Christ.
      • Any Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion who feels uncomfortable distributing Communion should be allowed to temporarily step down from ministry.
  • Hand sanitizer should be used by all Ordinary and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion before and after distributing the Eucharist.
  • The Sign of Peace is to be exchanged without physical contact. Parishioners are encouraged to use some other gesture instead. (e.g., a nod of the head, a smile or a spoken greeting).
  • Parishioners should not hold hands during the Our Father. Although holding hands is a beautiful expression of people united in prayer, the gesture is not envisioned in any Church documents governing liturgy.
  • If your parish encourages a greeting with physical contact before Mass, that practice should be temporarily suspended or modified to not include physical contact.
  • Holy Water fonts will be emptied and cleaned. They should remain empty at this time.
  • During the celebration of confirmation, Bishop Walkowiak will not be shaking hands with the newly confirmed following the anointing with Chrism.

In addition, we want to remind parishioners of the following:

  • If you are exhibiting flu-like or cold symptoms, please stay home from Mass. Your Sunday obligation is waived under these circumstances. We invite you to watch the 10 a.m. televised Sunday Mass from the Cathedral of Saint Andrew.
  • In addition to the above, parishioners and parishes should continue to follow normal cold/flu season guidelines.
  • Please pray for those who are suffering and those who have died from the virus, as well as their families.

We will adopt local, state, and health authority recommendations and provide additional directives if needed.

Additional information regarding COVID-19 can be found on the following websites:

Kent County Health Department (or your local health department website)
State of Michigan
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Prevention, prudence and prayer

Guidelines for cold and flu prevention
How good hand hygiene prevents illness (Centers for Disease Control)
Responding as Catholics using the “Three P’s” (Bishop Caggiano of Bridgeport)

Contact:

Annalise Laumeyer, director of communications
alaumeyer@grdiocese.org | 616-551-5629

The Diocese of Grand Rapids:

Facebook: /DioceseofGrandRapids
Instagram/Twitter: @GRdiocese
YouTube: @dogrcomm

THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED AS NEW INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE