Friday, April 30, 2021

In times of trouble, church turns to prayer with Mary, theologian says

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The global Catholic Church coming together to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic represents the hope and faith of the people of God and how they find solace and strength together with Mary, said a theological expert in Mariology.

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Photo: Pope Francis uses incense as he venerates a statue of Mary and the Christ Child during Mass at Verano cemetery in Rome in 2015. 

"Mary knows what suffering is," and just as she was at the foot of Christ's cross, "she is at the foot of the many crosses other people bear, bringing them comfort, redemption and accompaniment in a self-centered world," said Servite Father Salvatore Perrella, a professor of dogmatics and Mariology at the Pontifical Institute Marianum.

Pope Francis asked that Catholics unite worldwide every day throughout the month of May to pray the rosary, pleading for an end to the pandemic and praying for those most affected by the disease and its consequences.

"The pope did the right thing to call this marathon of prayer to Mary," Father Perrella told Catholic News Service April 29.

"It's not that Mary will fix our problems -- God doesn't fix them either because he gives us freedom and even leaves a disease free to act -- but it is about knowing that God is with us, which is the reason for our great strength and hope," he said.

The initiative is a way for people of faith to turn to the Mother of God, who assures people that God never abandons anyone, he said.

"This is the power of the Christian faith, which is solace, strength, compassion and solidarity in suffering" and helps find meaning in pain and difficulties, he said.

Our Lady does not take any honor or focus away from Christ, he said. The church emphasizes her role as "mother, sister and friend," who always comes to help, "who prays for us" and who points to and "connects us to Christ and Christ responds to our human weaknesses."

The rosary, Father Perrella said, "is a gentle chain that unites us to God, unites us to each other, and Mary is witness to this."

Every shrine and sanctuary around the world has been invited to organize prayer initiatives according to their local customs, he said, and the places and people that can do so safely should take part.

Shrines represent places for coming together, of pilgrimage and leaving behind the repetitive mundanity of the everyday, he said. They are "a rest stop, a launching pad" for something more, because people need to come together at different times, different places and in different ways "and be together with others, with oneself and with God."

"It is not to distance yourself, but to find in God all of humanity," since shrines often attract so many different people who do not know each other, but they form "a crown of solidarity, of unity" just by being there, knowing that God is near, he said.

For those who cannot visit a shrine, the Vatican will be broadcasting on multiple platforms starting at 6 p.m. Rome time each day from a different shrine around the world.

People should take advantage of being able to connect with broadcasts and online, he said.

"It's not true that the Internet is infernal. It depends on how it's used and where you go," the Servite said. "We have to use all tools so this encounter can happen and bring people together by what they see, unite their hearts" and join as one catholic family.

The theme of the month of prayer -- "From the entire church an unceasing prayer rises to God" -- is significant as well, he said. It refers to the miraculous event recounted in the Acts of the Apostles (12:1-12) when all the church prayed for Peter, who was imprisoned.

"We can see the pandemic is like a prison that we want with all our heart to break out of" and can make people lose hope, he said.

But instead, the Bible passage shows the entire church coming together to pray at a time of fear, danger and isolation, and God sends an angel to free Peter, illustrating how the Lord listens and performs an unexpected miracle.

Father Perrella said, "The church has a duty to express itself this way, in solidarity -- the whole church. This is catholicity of faith: Everyone has to hear and feel the suffering of others" and do their part because from prayer comes true concrete acts of charity.

"But no matter what happens, what the result, the church must never give up hoping," he said.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Nov. 15 -- Virtual Silver and Gold Mass


Couples may request commemorative certificates

Is 2020 the year in which you and your spouse celebrate your 25th, 50th or 50+ wedding anniversary?
Although gathering for the annual Silver and Gold Anniversary Mass and Celebration is not possible this year, Bishop David Malloy and the Life and Family Evangelization Office of the Diocese of Rockford would like to celebrate this milestone with couples reaching them.
Celebrating couples and their families and friends are invited to “tune in” online for a Mass celebrated by Bishop Malloy on at 2 p.m Nov. 15. The Mass will be broadcast on the Diocese of Rockford website at, the Diocese of Rockford Facebook page, and The Diocese of Rockford YouTube channel.
Couples wishing to receive a commemorative certificate and be listed among those celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, should register online at
Direct questions about the virtual Mass or registration, email the LiFE Office at or call 815-399-4300. The deadline to submit your names and request a certificate prior to the Mass is Nov. 9.

 Click here to submit your names and request a commemorative certificate!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Diocesan COVID guidelines updated


(Observer photo/Amanda Hudson)

By Penny Wiegert | Editor

DIOCESE—Bishop David Malloy announced in a letter to all priests Oct. 8 a list of changes to the “Back in His Presence” guidelines issued in June of this year. The guidelines are part of the ongoing efforts to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus among the faithful as they live out their Catholic faith.

Bishop Malloy said in his letter that modifications to the original protocols are being made periodically “based in the experience that we gain as we live through this pandemic.”

After consultations with the deans and with the Presbyteral Council, the following modifications have been made to “Back in His Presence.” These changes were made effective for Masses beginning Oct. 10-11.

Use of the mask by lectors at the ambo

At the discretion of the pastor or parochial administrator, lectors and other ministers at the ambo are permitted to remove their face mask for reading proclamation purposes.

The deacon and priest may also do so at the ambo for the Gospel and homily. Masks shall continue to be worn by priests at all times when at the altar and while at the presider chair.

Bishop David Malloy (in photo) delivered a recent homily without his mask but others in the church wore theirs as recommended.

Reception of holy Communion on the tongue

Reception of the Eucharist on the tongue is now permitted under specific protocols at Mass and at Communion services at all parishes.

While the faithful are strongly encouraged to receive holy Communion in the hand during this coronavirus outbreak, pastors and parochial administrators may make arrangements for reception of the Sacrament on the tongue using one of the following options:

1) A separate line must be provided for those faithful who wish to receive holy Communion on the tongue; or

2) Those faithful who wish to receive holy Communion on the tongue do so after all other faithful have received in the hand; or

3) The faithful who wish to receive holy Communion on the tongue do so at the end of Mass.

Whichever option is chosen by the pastor or parochial administrator, there should be separate reception of holy Communion for those receiving in the hand and for those receiving on the tongue.

When reception on the tongue is done, because of the proximity of the minister’s hand to the mouth of the communicant, the minister must sanitize his hand between each communicant’s reception.

Whether a pastor or parochial administrator allows this form of receiving Communion shall be a decision within his discretion.

If a pastor/parochial administrator because of the pandemic or his own personal health does not feel comfortable implementing this form of receiving holy Communion, he has the authority to decline to implement it in his parish.

Similarly, a parochial vicar should not be required to administer holy Communion on the tongue if he feels uncomfortable or has personal health concerns.

All other protocols regarding masks, social distancing, traffic flow regulations, recording of attendance, capacity requirements and sanitation are still in force as outlined in the “Back in His Presence” documents.

Additional new guidelines cover extraordinary eucharistic ministers, gathers beyond the essential and sacramental with and without food, and charitable events.

Find more details at the diocesan website at at

If you have questions or need assistance in this process please direct your inquiries to

Friday, July 17, 2020

Flannery O'Connor film debuts online July 17

(CNS photo)
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- "Flannery," a documentary about the life and writings of Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor, opens in select virtual cinemas nationwide July 17.
Previously, the movie, which won the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film in 2019, has only been shown in film festivals and college campuses.
The movie screenings have always been followed by discussions with the film's directors, not only about the movie itself, but about issues raised in it by O'Connor's writings on race, sexism and faith.
The online viewings, listed at, will follow a similar pattern, of sorts, this year with four live, virtual discussions on Facebook with filmmakers, a guest moderator and panelists focusing on O'Connor themes. The discussions -- at -- will focus specifically on race, faith, the craft of writing and O'Connor's disability. She died in in 1964 at age 39 from Lupus complications.
--Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Northern Illinois Food Bank slates deliveries in Rockford Diocese

(Observer photo/Penny Wiegert)
DIOCESE—The Northern Illinois Food bank serves several of the Rockford Diocese’s 11 counties. Scheduled mobile food pantry deliveries in the diocese are in the following counties:
June 13: 10-11:30 a.m., Zion Lutheran Church, 1300 Pearl St., Belvidere
June 30: 4-5:30 p.m., General Mills Park, 301 High Line St., Belvidere
June 1: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.,MLK Park, 42 N. Farnsworth Ave., Aurora
June 11: 5-6:30 p.m., Carpentersville Middle School, 100 Cleveland Ave., door 20, Carpenterville
June 15: 10-11:30 a.m., Main Baptist Church, 814 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora
June 16: 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Cornerstone Park, 1540 Mulberry Ln., Elgin
June 2: 4-5:30 p.m., St Margret Mary Parish, 111 S. Hubbard St., Algonquin
June 5: 3:30-5 p.m., Harvard Moose Lodge, 22500 Illinois Rte. 173, Harvard
June 6: 10-11:30 a.m., Fellowship of Faith Lutheran Church, 6120 Mason Hill Road, McHenry
June 9: 10-11:30 a.m., Church of Holy Apostles Parish, 5211 W. Bull Valley Road, McHenry
June 13: 2-3:30 p.m., First Church Crystal Lake, 236 W. Crystal Lake Ave., Crystal Lake
June 29: 4-5:30 p.m., Church of Holy Apostles Parish, 5211 W. Bull Valley Road, McHenry
June 10: 3-4:30 p.m., Shangri La Mobile Home Park, 10978 East Fisher Road, Rochelle
June 3: 12-1:30 p.m., Freeport Fire Station 1, 904 S. Park Blvd., Freeport
June 9: 12-1:30 p.m., St. Joseph Parish, 229 W. Washington, Freeport
June 17: 12-1:30 p.m., Freeport Fire Station 1, 904 S. Park Blvd., Freeport
June 30: 4-5:30 p.m., Lena-Winslow Food Pantry Parking Lot, 130 1/2 Main, Lena
June 1: 10-11:30 a.m., City First Church, 5950 Spring Creek Rd., Rockford
June 8: 9-10:30 a.m., Collier Gardens, 2901 Searles Ave., Rockford
June 29: 12-12:50 p.m., Robert Johnston Apartments, 1615 Blackhawk Blvd., South Beloit
June 29: 1-1:50 p.m., D’Agnolo Garden Apartments, 806 Kocher St., Rockton
Info: Northern Illinois Foodbank website

Masses resume at some parishes in Rockford Diocese

(Observer illustration/Sharon Boehlefeld)

Diocese of Rockford part of statewide measures to return to safe worship

ROCKFORD—In a letter written May 13 to the priests and the Catholic faithful, Bishop David Malloy announced the plan to bring the public back to Mass in church.
As individual parishes meet criteria to open, they have been able to offer Masses with up to 10 people present since May 25.
Bishop Malloy, along with the bishops of the Chicago Province, developed a multi-phased plan in consultation with and with the agreement of state and local public health officials and civil authorities. 
In the Rockford Diocese, the plan has been called Back in His Presence.
The plan allows for a gradual return to Mass that respects access to the Sacrament of the Eucharist (Communion) and the health and safety of the priests and their congregations and follows local guidelines for public gatherings.
Local adaptations to this plan will be communicated to parishioners through the parishes and their social media platforms, through the diocesan website and through the Diocese of Rockford Facebook pages. 
Look for information released by the bishop, including a letter, the outlines of plans dioceses in Illinois will follow, a video explaining the changes and other information at the diocesan website at

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Bishop Malloy extends Mass dispensation

(Observer file photo) 2019 Chrism Mass
DIOCESE--Bishop David Malloy has extended permission for Catholics in the Rockford Diocese to be absent from Sunday Mass indefinitely. With the Illinois Stay at Home directive extended at least through April 30, the bishop has decided also to remove the pain of sin for missing Mass for the near future.
In a letter issued April 9, he said, "Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday itself will be for us special acts of faith this year. Because we hope and trust in Christ, even without the opportunity to be physically present for the Masses and ceremonies, we know that we can join the Church of all time and throughout the world in venerating Christ’s suffering and death and in spiritually uniting ourselves to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, even if we can only watch by television or social media."
Read his complete letter at
Bishop Malloy will celebrate the traidtional Triduum Masses and services at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rockford, but the church will be empty of the faithful.

Triduum and Easter streaming schedule

The Chrism Mass begins at 11 a.m. April 9. The bishop will celebrate with Msgr. Glenn Nelson, Vicar General; Father Stephen St. Jules, cathedral rector' and masters of ceremonies.At 7 p.m., the bishop will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the cathedral. 
He will celebrate Good Friday, April 10 at 2 p.m.
His Easter Vigil Mass on April 11 will be at 7:30 p.m.
Look for links to the streamed events at the Rockford Diocese Facebook page.

Televised and streamed Easter Mass

Bishop Malloy's April 12 Easter Sunday Mass will air at 10:30 a.m. on WREX Channel 13 in Rockford. (Check local listings and cable channel numbers.) The Easter Mass will also be streamed at and on the WREX Facebook page: 
The Diocese of Rockford will share the link on its Facebook page.
WREX has been the home of the weekly Sunday Catholic Mass for more than 50 years.
Priests at all diocesan parishes may also celebrate Holy Week and Easter Masses and other services without the faithful present and may stream those services online. Check with your parish for details.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

UPDATE: EWTN to broadcast Pope Francis' prayer and message LIVE March 27

EWTN has changed its schedule for Pope Francis' prayer and extraordinary Urbi et Orbi (To the City and the World) message on March 27.
EWTN, a multimedia operation founded by the late Mother Angelica, will broadcast the message live at noon Central Time on March 27. 
Tape-delayed presentations will still be aired March 27 at 7 p.m., and on March 28 at 4 a.m. All times are Central.
The station is carried on many cable networks, but streaming is available at In addition to the pope's message Friday, EWTN will also stream Holy Week and Easter services from the Vatican. 
Daily Masses are aired several times each day, as are prayer opportunities, including the "Rosary with Mother Angelica."
The pope will speak at 6 p.m. Rome time on Friday. Read more about his message at Vatican News.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

USCCB encourages Catholics to pray with the pope at 6 a.m. March 25

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is encouraging Catholics in the U.S. to pray the Our Father at the same time as Pope Francis on March 25.
For people in the Diocese of Rockford, that means joining him at 6 a.m., not to wait until 12 noon, as previously suggested.
To do so, the USCCB instructs us to go to the Vatican News Service at 6 a.m.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Read The Observer free online until further notice

DIOCESE--The Observer will be available free online until further notice, said Penny Wiegert, editor, in an open letter on March 23. She wrote:

Dear Readers,
During this difficult time of seclusion and isolation caused by the coronavirus it is more important than ever that we stay connected as a family of faith.
To help you be spiritually nourished and kept up-to-date on diocesan directives during this time, The Observer Catholic Newspaper will be accessible FREE OF CHARGE  online at .
During this pandemic you can now find The Observer on your computer, tablet, laptop or mobile device. The Observer staff will do everything possible to keep the Catholic faithful in our 11-county diocese up-to-date with special prayers being offered by the Holy Father Pope Francis, Bishop David Malloy and other initiatives offered as the world combats the coronavirus. We will continue offering insight from all our local columnists including Bishop Malloy as well as local inspiration from people living their faith.
We value our faithful subscribers who make our work possible with their $28 annual subscriptions and will continue to mail our print editions to them. We pray for a swift end to this terrible health crisis and when that happens,  we will again have the newspaper both print and digital exclusive to those who pay for it.
However, at this extraordinary time for all of us, it is vital for us to be united in as many aspects of our faith as possible.
Thank you and may God guide you and keep you from all harm.
Penny Wiegert

El Observador, the Diocese of Rockford Spanish newspaper, is also free at

Thursday, March 19, 2020

March 21: Diocesan Chorale cancels rehearsal

DIOCESE--Father Jared Twenty, diocesan chorale director has cancelled the March 21 rehearsal in Geneva for the Chrism Mass due to the situation with the coronavirus. Decisions will be made later for the rehearsals scheduled April 4 and 9.

Bishop Malloy to celebrate Masses online, offers Wednesday devotions

ROCKFORD--Understanding the hardship on Catholics posed by the suspension of public Masses in the Diocese of Rockford, Bishop David Malloy  will celebrate Sunday Masses online.

  • The Masses will be celebrated March 22 and March 29 at 9 a.m. (Extending that suspension will be evaluated and announced on or before April 3). The Masses will be on the diocesan website at and on the diocesan Facebook page live.
  • Bishop Malloy will offer other prayers and devotion every Wednesday during the suspension of Masses. His Wednesday reflections begin with his introductory video March 18 and can be viewed for the next two Wednesdays at 12 Noon on and on the Diocese of Rockford Facebook page.

“We are people of hope, we are people who have our trust in our faith and in our God who gives us the grace that we need even if we are not physically able to access the Mass at this time,” the bishop said in his announcement.
Bishop Malloy said the Masses and devotions are just one way he can help provide some “spiritual nourishment” to Catholics during this very difficult time of pandemic.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Rockford Diocese Suspends Mass through April 4

ROCKFORD—Bishop David Malloy has suspended daily and Sunday Masses throughout the Rockford Diocese in a letter released March 17 just before 2 p.m. The suspension goes into effect immediately and continues through April 4.
He also added changes to ongoing restrictions of diocesan and parish activities in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus threat. In brief, the changes include:

  • Masses — daily, Sunday and holy day — are suspended March 17-April 4. Extensions will be considered as necessary. Priests will continue to say private Masses to pray for us.
  • All Catholics in the Rockford Diocese are dispensed (excused) from Mass attendance for the same period. 
  • The Diocesan Administration Center in Rockford will be closed March 18-March 31. Extensions will be considered as necessary.

To read the full statement, go to

Additionally, several diocesan evens have been postponed or cancelled in order to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in accord with recommendations from local, state and national health agencies. This list does not include individual parish events. Please check your local parish website or social media page for their closings and/or postponed listings.


  • All Confirmations beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020
  • Mass of Thanksgiving, March 26, Cathedral of St. Peter, 6 p.m.
  • Diocesan Council of Catholic Women Convention, April 4, Cathedral of St. Peter
  • 2020 Diocesan Appeal Trainings for Parishes scheduled for March 18 Rockford Deanery, March 19 Elgin Deanery, March 25, McHenry Deanery and March 26 for the Sterling Deanery. (Watch for interactive web based meeting solutions)
  • The Ministry Formation Office has suspended  DTI class Ten Popes who Shook the World (March 14 and 21), CLCP class (March 14, possibly April 18), and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday classes for Ministry Formation Program until further notice Specialization Day on March 28 is also postponed.


  • Life Advocacy Day at the Capitol, March 25
  • Be Reconciled Day, April 1, All Parishes 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.