Coronavirus: Frequently asked questions for the Faithful

Click on each question below to view or hide the response.

These questions are answered based on recommendations from local and state officials as of March 23, 2020. Answers are subject to change as new guidelines are issued and we receive more information.

(en Español)

It is important that we mourn with families. For the time being, all funerals are to be celebrated without Mass and limited to immediate family members only, ensuring that no more than 10 people are present.

Alternately, a committal service at the cemetery may be celebrated outdoors, with appropriate social distancing guidelines in place, with a memorial Mass to be celebrated at a later date. This will allow family and friends to participate in a Eucharist offered for their departed loved ones when the celebration of public Mass resumes.

No, under the current guidelines, funeral luncheons will not be held at this time.

Weddings occurring before Tuesday, April 14 are postponed. Weddings after that date will be re-evaluated in light of new information from health officials.

Parish food pantries should remain open at this time and follow instructions from local and state health officials.

Many parishes and schools have decided on a take-out or drive-thru only approach for fish fries, some have canceled for the remainder of Lent, so please contact the parish or school ahead of time to confirm. In addition, when it comes to take-out pick-ups and numbers of volunteers, fish fry organizers must meet the directive of Gov. Whitmer which specifies no more than 50 people in a shared indoor space.

As part of the guidelines issued by Bishop Walkowiak on March 17, praying of the Stations of the Cross, which also usually takes place on the Fridays of Lent in our churches, is suspended through April 5.

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.

The distribution of palms will be suspended until a date when Mass with a congregation can resume.

The celebration of all public liturgies has been suspended through Easter Monday, April 13. Since we are unable to gather for public worship during Holy Week, we invite you to join us for the live broadcasts of the liturgies of Holy Week from the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. For the Holy Week schedule and ways to watch online or on TV, click here.

Every Mass is, essentially, a communal act of prayer. Not all celebrations of Mass, however, are announced and accessible to the broader public. It is in this sense that our priests will be offering Mass privately over the coming weeks. The Church normally requires that the communal nature of the Mass be expressed through the participation of at least one other person with the priest celebrant. However, current norms in place to protect public health provide just cause for celebrating without the participation of another member of the faithful (can. 906). Therefore, for the time being, Mass will not be celebrated at the parish’s regularly scheduled times and the lay faithful will not be informed of the time of celebration. Again, these restrictions are meant to safeguard public health. Priests may not invite the laity to attend their private Mass.

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is a liturgical celebration and is, consequently, suspended together with other public liturgies and devotional services. The faithful are invited to pray to Christ present in the tabernacle.

No, adoration chapels are closed during this time.

No. The temporary cancellation of ALL public Masses in the diocese stands through April 13, 2020 and includes the liturgies of Holy Week. The diocesan directives are meant to eliminate contact between people.

No. Viaticum, however, may be taken to the dying. Our priests will continue to celebrate the sacrament of the anointing of the sick for those who begin to be in danger due to sickness or old age.

We empathize with the sadness that many Catholics are feeling at this time in being unable to partake in the Eucharist at Mass. The decision to cancel Masses has not been made without thoughtful and extensive consultation and consideration. Please know that in issuing the guidelines that we have for parishes and schools, we are relying on guidance and expertise from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control along with state and local health care experts who've made clear the need for drastic measures in preventing the spread of COVID-19, especially to our community's most vulnerable members.  These actions, while extreme, are temporary, and are being taken in order to cooperate with the best of the scientific community's recommendations, to promote the common good, one of the pillars of  Catholic life; and with the express intent of helping mitigate the spread of coronavirus, prevent a possible overload of our health care system, and ultimately save lives.

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 Easter Monday, April 13.

Bishops and archbishops have the authority to authorize or suspend the public offering of Mass within their diocese. The dispensation that is granted by the bishop means you are not committing a mortal sin by missing Mass.

The dispensation however, does not release Catholics from honoring the Lord's Day on Sunday. Catholics are encouraged to make a spiritual Communionpray the rosary, or meditate on Sacred Scripture to keep holy the Lord’s Day. Additional spiritual resources are available here.

Watch the LIVE broadcast of Sunday Mass each week from the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in Grand Rapids at 10 a.m. ET. Available on the diocesan website, on Facebook or on TV on WXMI Fox 17. For the Holy Week live broadcast schedule and ways to watch online or on TV, click here.

In addition, EWTN offers the live broadcast of Sunday Mass at 8 a.m. and noon, and daily Mass in Spanish: Ver Misa Diaria | Calendario

At a time like this, we all have questions, many of them beginning with the word "Why?" It's especially important in this time to remember that while God does not remove us from difficulties in our lives, he walks with us and never ceases to care.

During this time, Catholics are asked to follow the guidelines for parishes and schools set out by Bishop Walkowiak to help prevent the spread of the virus. These guidelines are in accordance with directives issued by health experts at the national, state and local levels along with executive orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Catholics are also encouraged to pray. Secondly, we can continue to go outside ourselves to help family members and neighbors to ensure that no one feels abandoned or discouraged or goes without. Social media, text messaging, calling, and other methods of digital communication provide the means to stay connected to others, while practicing social distancing.

Catholics are encouraged to make an act of spiritual Communion, a great source of grace; to pray the rosary, or meditate on Sacred Scripture to keep holy the Lord’s Day. We can also seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother asking for her intercession, consolation and for an end to the pandemic. Additional resources may be found here.

Per the updated guidelines issued on March 23, confirmation Masses through Monday, April 13 have been canceled and will be rescheduled. If you have any additional questions, please contact your parish.

These days of the COVID-19 epidemic and protective measures to prevent its spread can be anxious and unsettling times for us all. For many Catholics, the restricted access to our beloved sacraments constitutes a great trial. Visitor access to our hospitals is also being limited to help prevent the spread of the virus. For the latest information regarding sacramental care in our local hospitals, please click here.

The best way to be present at this time with a family member who is hospitalized is by phone. Our priests also are available to contact patients by phone. Please reach out to your pastor or associate pastor should the need arise. For a list of priests in the diocese, click here. For a list of parishes, click here.