My brothers and sisters in Christ,
These days of the coronavirus and the 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. Some may be wondering whether the sacraments will be available to them if they need to become hospitalized.
We have news regarding the three major health care systems in West Michigan and their policies regarding access of priests to Catholics and their facilities.
Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital will permit priests to celebrate the sacrament of the anointing of the sick and Viaticum for the dying only. The staff priest chaplain, Father Joachim, will handle all other anointings and regular pastoral care.
Spectrum Health Hospitals (Butterworth and Blodgett) and Metro Health Hospital will not allow priests access to the hospital under any circumstances.
So, unfortunately, the Church is unable to provide Catholics with the sacraments in a number of our local hospitals. It is sad that these conditions exist in these times when Catholics need and desire to receive the sacraments and gain their consolation and strength. We understand, of course, the protective measures that have been put in place for the common good.
Please pray for an end to this pandemic. Let us pray for those who are sick from it. Let us pray for our health care workers who accompany the sick and serve them in their time of need. And let us commend the dead to the compassion and love of our Lord, the Divine Physician!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak
Bishop of Grand Rapids
Additional note: 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.
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