Community Our Lady of Guadalupe Pilgrimage

WHAT: The Hispanic/Latino Catholic community in Grand Rapids will gather to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a pilgrimage. All are welcome to join!
WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 5 – 7 p.m.
KEY VISUAL: The pilgrimage will be led by dancers in authentic dress, live music, and pilgrims carrying a statue/photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
WHERE: The pilgrimage will begin at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church (101 Hall St., Grand Rapids) and make its way to the Shrine of St. Francis Xavier – Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church (250 Brown St., Grand Rapids). Bishop Walkowiak will celebrate a vigil Mass for the feast day following the pilgrimage.
WHY: The Virgin Mary appeared as Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. Her appearance and the mission she entrusted him with led to one of the largest conversions to Catholicism in the history of the Catholic Church. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas and there is a strong devotion to her, especially in the Hispanic/Latino community.
NOTE: Jefferson Ave. SE from Hall to Brown Street will be closed for the pilgrimage from 5 – 7 p.m.
This pilgrimage is part of the larger celebration of the inaugural “Guadalupe: River of Love” Mission Week which is taking place from Saturday, Dec. 8 – Wednesday, Dec. 12. Events can be found at

Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love

During their Fall General Assembly the U.S. Bishops approved “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love” – A pastoral letter against racism.

The letter asks us to recall that we are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God. Because we all bear the image of God, racism is, above all, a moral and theological problem that manifests itself institutionally and systematically. Only a deep individual conversion of heart, which then multiplies, will compel change and reform in our institutions and society. It is imperative to confront racism’s root causes and the injustice it produces. The love of God binds us together. This same love should overflow into our relationships with all people. The conversions needed to overcome racism require a deep encounter with the living God in the person of Christ who can heal all division.

This pastoral letter is not the first time the U.S. Bishops have spoken collectively on race issues in the United States; their last pastoral letter on the topic was written in 1979 and entitled “Brothers and Sisters to Us: A Pastoral Letter on Racism in Our Day.” 

You can read the full text of “Open Wide Our Hearts” here.

Letters in regards to GR Diocese our Seminarians Rectors

Amid the clergy sexual abuse scandal, Bishop Walkowiak has received letters from the faithful asking about the welfare of our diocesan seminarians and whether the men currently in formation for the Diocese of Grand Rapids are safe.

Bishop Walkowiak has full confidence in our two seminaries: Saint John Vianney College Seminary at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois. He personally spoke with our diocesan seminarians at their convocation in August and told them that they should immediately inform the rectors or our vocations directors of any improper conduct. He emphasized that they would not face any reprisals for coming forward.

Bishop Walkowiak met with the seminarians at Mundelein Seminary on Thursday, Oct. 25 and they all seemed to be in good spirits. He called the rector of Saint John Vianney College Seminary the following day, Oct. 26, and asked about our seminarians. He was assured that they are all doing well.

The rectors of both seminaries have released letters regarding their protocols for keeping seminarians who are on their campuses safe.

Letter from Very Reverend Michael Becker, rector, Saint John Vianney College Seminary.

Letter from Very Reverend John Kartje, rector, Mundelein Seminary.

Additional Resources

Catholic Spirit article, “How do I know my son is safe in the seminary?” referenced in Very Reverend Michael Becker’s letter.

Honoring The Sacrament of Marriage

Registration is now open for the annual Cherish Marriage event!
It will take place on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 at Frederik Meijer Gardens from 6 – 11 p.m.
Couples will enjoy an evening of dinner, inspiration, and dancing to strengthen their marriage. The keynote speakers for the evening are Damon and Melanie Owens from joytob.
Register at  Register now, this fills up fast. Deadline to register: January 20, 2019.


Bishop Walkowiak Response to tragic shooting

The Diocese of Grand Rapids’ Office of Communications issues the following statement from Bishop Walkowiak in response to the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I stand in solidarity with my brother bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in condemning all acts of violence and hate, and yet again calling on our nation and public officials to confront the plague of gun violence. Violence as a response to political, racial, or religious differences must be confronted with all possible effort.
No one should fear for their lives when gathering to worship. Please join me in praying for the deceased, the injured, their families, and everyone who witnessed this horrific hate crime. I ask the faithful of the Diocese of Grand Rapids to lift up our Jewish brothers and sisters in prayer in a special way.

Talking to Children about difficult subjects

Tips for talking to children about difficult subjects/news reports

The topic of sex abuse, particularly child sex abuse, is a daunting one for parents. Every parent must consider many factors including the best age-appropriate way to discuss the topic. Below are some points to consider adapted from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and First Things First.

1. Make sure you are composed before you talk with your child.

2. If you believe your child is aware of news concerning abuse in the diocese, start the conversation. Not talking about a difficult event can make the event even more threatening in your child’s mind.

3. Listen carefully to what your child is asking or talking about.

4. Clarify just what any concerns are before you answer. Sometimes we make assumptions and give far more information than what the child needs.

5. Keep your answers simple and brief. Don’t answer questions that have not been asked. Do not overload your child with information that is beyond his/her level of understanding.

6. Assure your child that you and other adults that are in charge are doing everything possible to make sure they will be safe. This will give them a sense that adults are actively taking steps to protect those who are currently suffering.

7. Don’t make guarantees that such a thing can never happen again. Words like “never” and “always” should be used very carefully because small children trust that this is a promise from you.

8. Explain that we do not know why people treat other people badly.

9. Try to limit your child’s exposure to media coverage. A child believes what he or she sees on television, or in the newspapers is always true.

10. Let your children know about successful community efforts. You may want to share positive media images, such as reports of individuals helping those in need.

Investigation of MI Catholic Dioceses

Michigan Department of the Attorney General announced an investigation into the seven Catholic dioceses of Michigan.

At this time, the investigation dates back to 1950 and looks solely at priests, both diocesan and religious order. The investigation pertains solely to the abuse and sexual assault of children. The internal investigation is being conducted by the AG’s office and is expected to take about a year. Please see the attached for the official statement.