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Diocese of Gaylord's Response to COVID-19

Update Regarding Current Executive Orders


DATE: July 30, 2020

TO: Priests, Pastoral Administrators, Deacons, Seminarians

FROM: Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley

RE: Update Regarding Current Executive Orders

 Update Regarding Current Executive Orders

With the newest Executive Orders issued from Governor Whitmer yesterday, July 29, revised protocols have been put in place for the maximum number in attendance for indoor gatherings in the state of Michigan. 

Bearing this in mind, I want to clarify the following for parish gatherings:

  • The following indoor parish gatherings are NOT affected by the July 29 Executive Orders and should continue to be celebrated in the same manner: 
    • Masses
    • Weddings
    • Funerals
    • Baptisms
    • Eucharistic Adoration
  • All other indoor gatherings, such as bible studies, council meetings, faith formation classes, etc. are restricted to 10 people in attendance. 

We will keep you informed of additional changes as they become available. Thank you for all that you are doing for your people. Be assured of my prayers and continued support to you in any way I can.




Protocol Reminders from the Office of Worship and Liturgy

July 29, 2020

As this time of pandemic continues to unfold, we remain attentive to the safety and well-being of all who enter our churches to pray and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We recognize that during this unprecedented season of the Church, all are called to make sacrifices that are uncomfortable and out of the ordinary. We do this in charity for one another, despite the difficulty and challenges it may bring. Bearing this in mind, these reminders are shared to help and assist you and your parish leaders to continue to maintain proper safeguards to protect the health of our assemblies and others whom they will encounter.  These reminders follow the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) through resources prepared by members of the Thomistic Institute of the Dominican House in Washington DC and the Federation of Liturgical Commissions (FDLC).



Wearing a mask is one act of charity we do to protect others. Masks continue to be required for everyone in the Church, except children under the age of five, those with medical conditions and the ministers when in the sanctuary. Members of the assembly who refuse to wear masks should be invited to sit in a designated area. 



Refraining from singing is also to protect those around us. Therefore, we need to ask our assemblies to not sing during Mass to reduce spreading airborne particles (even while wearing masks).

What does this look like during the Mass?

  • The only singing is to be by the musician or cantor, who may sing the Entrance Antiphon and the Communion Antiphon. 
  • The Gloria, Psalm responses, Holy Holy, Mystery of Faith, Great Amen and Lamb of God should all be spoken. The celebrant/presider should also recite the prayers of the Mass. 
  • Instrumental music may be used during the Preparation of the Altar, Communion and Recessional.



When using extraordinary ministers, the last action they should take before being handed the ciborium is to sanitize their hands. The sanitizing must occur after they have received communion and put their masks back in place. 


I recognize how difficult these protocols are, but cannot stress enough the critical task set before us to make sacrifices out of charity for one another. Thank you for your continued efforts and for your leadership to your people. 




New Executive Order Requires Masks in Any Indoor Public Spaces

DATE: July 10, 2020

TO: Priests, Pastoral Administrators, Deacons, Seminarians

FROM: Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley

RE: Requirement to Wear Masks (Face Coverings)




We have received notice that Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order this morning that will go into effect on Monday, July 13, 2020.  This executive order requires that individuals wear a face covering when in any indoor public space, and in outdoor public spaces that are not able to accommodate social distancing. I expect that all of our parishes will comply with this requirement and properly instruct your parishioners of this protocol, even though we find it to be difficult. 

To prepare for this, please review today’s Executive Order, which can be found at:

It is important to note that:

  • As has been the practice to date, priests and altar servers may remove their face coverings while in the sanctuary, with the exception of during the distribution of the Eucharist. 
  • Parishioners are required to wear a mask to celebrate Mass, but can remove them temporarily to receive the Eucharist. 
  • The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to certain individuals, including those younger than five years old. The additional specifications for which individuals are not required to wear a face covering can be found in the Executive Order.

Thank you for your continued concern for the care and safety of your people; I know these are difficult times and I am here to support you in every way I can.




Letter from Bishop Raica Regarding the Coronavirus 5-12-20

May 12, 2020

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

Greetings in the Risen Lord!  The First Letter of St Peter exhorts us: “There is cause for rejoicing here. You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials: but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ appears.” These past few months, I pray, have helped us to realize and cherish our faith, family and friends with even greater intensity. 

It has been two months since we last celebrated public Masses together in our parishes, shrines and chapels across the Diocese of Gaylord. With this public statement I share with you the good news that we are at a stage of beginning to re-open our churches for public celebrations of the Eucharist beginning on Wednesday, May 20. Churches should not open, if they are not ready to do so. Parish opening information should occur through the parish website and on other social media. Each pastor or pastoral administrator, working with their pastoral council, should be sure they have the diocesan directives in place prior to opening for the public to attend Mass. 

As we open up our churches for public Mass, expect that these celebrations will not be exactly what we may be used to or expect. Even though the coronavirus curve is flattening, the pandemic is not over. We must take precautions that will keep our risk as reduced as possible. 

Protocols have been developed through a committee working with the Director of Worship, that have considered expert advice from the medical field and liturgical experts. The protocols are meant to complement the wise guidance of the federal, state and local health agencies for the sake of the common good. Below is a list of some things you can expect when you return to public worship.

  • Expect that you will not see everyone at Mass. In the Diocese of Gaylord, dispensation from your Sunday obligation is extended through Sunday, September 6, 2020. Not all will feel comfortable returning to public worship right away and some people should not return right away, including those over 65 years of age and those in a higher-risk category because of health issues and those who are currently ill. However, if you wish to return to Mass your Sunday obligation may be fulfilled at any Mass during the week.
  • Expect that not all parishioners will be able to attend Mass on a Sunday because of reduced capacity. Churches are not to exceed 25% capacity in order to maintain proper social distancing. It is possible that Masses may be held outside. 
  • Expect to see all people over the age of two wearing masks.
  • Expect that Communion distribution will be different to afford safe distancing between individuals.
  • Expect the music to be led only by the musician and cantor. Or, you may not have any music at all for a while.
  • There will be no hymn books or missals or worship aids in the pews.
  • Expect other directives that may affect your local community and expect differences between parishes. We are striving for unity in our celebrations from parish to parish, not uniformity. What works one way in one parish, might work differently in another. 
  • Expect that each parish may open on a different schedule. We need patience to guide us these next few months.

I ask for and beg your patience as we learn all over again what it means to gather together. This will take some getting used to. I believe it can be done – so that we will be respectful of each other and our desire to resume our public Masses with decorum and dignity.

During this time, let us pray for each other and support each other as we resume our public celebrations. May what we do in these next few weeks as we re-open, as St Peter urges, lead to “praise, glory and honor” when Jesus Christ appears in our midst. “We adore you O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.”

Invoking the prayerful embrace of our Lady of Mt Carmel, the patroness of our diocese, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,


+Most Reverend Steven J Raica

Bishop of Gaylord







Decree for Dispensation during Coronavirus 4-3-20






Bishop Raica's Video Message for our Diocese

Bishop's video message of March 24, 2020




Letter from Bishop Raica Regarding the Coronavirus (03-19-20)




Letter from Bishop Raica Regarding the Coronavirus (03-13-20)

Decree for Dispensation during Coronavirus




Letter from Bishop Raica Regarding the Coronavirus (03-05-20)