In October 1918, then Grand Rapids Bishop Michael Gallagher was set to become the fourth bishop of Detroit. The plan was for Detroit’s new bishop to join thousands of Catholics across the city for a large procession with clergy and lay faithful that would end with his installation at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. The problem is that it never happened because then Michigan Governor, Albert Sleeper, issued a proclamation to close the state to contain the spread of the Spanish Flu.
One-hundred years later, we Catholics face another pandemic, this time known as COVID-19. As we are all aware, these have been challenging times for our nation and world. Here at St. Clement of Rome parish, as I have noted in a prior letter, we have taken major steps to ensure that our worship space is safe and complies with requirements set forth by governmental authorities. On June 22, the Archbishop of Detroit informed us that our churches may now seat up to 50 percent of their capacity provided that face-coverings are still worn and physical distancing between households is maintained.
Since May 30th, we have been celebrating Masses on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and Sunday at 7:00 and 10:30 a.m. While Mass attendance has not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, the upward trend is clear. Each week, we are welcoming back parishioners we have not seen in some time. To quote the 19th century French pharmacist and psychologist, Émile Coué, “Every day, in every way, [we’re] getting better and better.”
During the pandemic, our parish staff has been actively “keeping in touch” with parishioners and demonstrating acts of kindness to parishioners and those in need within our community. Through your financial generosity and prayers, we have continued the positive momentum that has always characterized St. Clement of Rome parish. As your pastor, I am grateful for the many “good works” performed in the name of Our Lord.
Lastly, please accept this letter as my invitation to you. If possible, won’t you consider joining us once again for the celebration of Holy Mass?
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Stephen C. Reckker, Pastor
P.S., By the way, if you are wondering, Bishop Gallagher was eventually installed as Bishop of Detroit on November 11, 1918.