Our Response to the COVID-19 Virus Threat


May 16, 2020 
The Diocese of Rockford in conjunction with the Catholic Bishops of Illinois have released guidelines for the resumption of Public Mass. In the coming days our parish will be developing a plan to respond to those requirements and will inform Parishioners with information as appropriate. For now we will continue with programs already in place.

May 12, 2020 
At this point there are no new instructions or guidelines from the Rockford Diocese with regard to Sacramental Mass resuming. There are, however, compliments for all of the Parishes which have implemented unique and innovative methods to reach out to the faithful. We are always looking to receive feedback from our faith community as to more ways that we can stay connected to the Lord spiritually during this time of isolation. Feel free to reach out via email or Facebook.
 
Currently Monsignor Heinz reminds you to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet twice daily along with praying the Rosary. Additional recommendations can be found on the Home Page of our website. We also offer Confession by Car on Saturday afternoons from 3:30p-4:30p in our parking lot. The Sunday 9:00a Mass is Live-Streamed via Facebook. The Blessed Sacrament is on display 24 hours-a-day in our Park & Pray area along Commercial Street. At 3:00p on Sunday afternoons, Deacon Norm leads us in the Divine Mercy Chaplet at the Park & Pray area. And the Church is open for Private Prayer from 10a-noon on Sundays.
 
Our Disinfection Protocols remain in place within the Church Building. Before and after the Church is opened for Private Prayer, the seating areas and door handles are sprayed with a CDC recommended virus killing solution. Hand sanitizer is available at each exit from the building. We also ask that visitors wear face covering and observe social distancing as appropriate. 
 
Our plans for the future look to a day when restrictions will be eased by our State Governor and our Bishop. Our first step in returning to Sacramental Mass will be Drive-in services in our parking lot. Staff and volunteers are working hard to construct a temporary platform and upgrade our audio system with an FM transmitter so Mass can be heard in people's cars.  Vehicles will also be spaced out so the Eucharist can be administered to each vehicle with appropriate social distancing. 
 
April 13, 2020
This is an update regarding our status as a Parish and a Diocese as we move forward after Easter Sunday.
 
St. Joseph Catholic Church realizes the important role we play in the Faith Lives of our community, and to that end will continue to provide whatever services it can during the COVID-19 Isolation, especially in light of our inability to meet in person with the sacraments.
 
Of primary importance is conveying a message from the Bishop regarding dispensation from Sunday Mass obligation. Such dispensation was granted in a letter dated April 9, 2020 and continues until, "circumstances allow for the lifting of the suspension of public Masses in the Diocese of Rockford." On the home page of our website you can find the recommended alternatives to weekly mass and confession which can be practiced during this time.
 
To allow for a closer connection with the Eucharist, we are offering Park & Pray. The Blessed Sacrament is on display 24 hours a day in a window of our School Building visible from our west parking lot. The window is marked by white bunting. We encourage you to take time in front of the sacrament while remaining in your car and praying for your intentions. Monsignor Heinz asks for two Divine Mercy Chaplets a day offered for a cure to the Coronavirus epidemic. Park & Pray provides for an excellent opportunity to do just that. 
 
The Church will be open from 9:00am-3:00pm every Sunday for Private Prayer. We ask that no more than 9 people utilize the Church in this way at any given time, and that appropriate social distancing be maintained at all times. 
 
For those desiring a complete act of Reconciliation, Monsignor Heinz will offer Confession By Car on Saturday afternoons from 3:30-4:30pm. He will remain in his car and those wishing to confess will pull along side. 
 
Should there be a need for an emergency anointing of the sick, please call (815)678-7421 and leave a message for Monsignor Heinz. As the Parish Office is closed for the duration of this crisis, only messages for anointing will be returned. In the mean time, prayer requests, mass intentions and such can be emailed to [email protected] 
 

April 7, 2020

Easter Prayer Procedures during the COVID-19 Isolation

In determining the best way to allow parishioners to utilize St. Joseph Catholic Church for times of private prayer, St. Joseph Catholic Church Staff developed the following plan utilizing provisions outlined in the “Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines for Faith-Based Facilities & Houses of Worship.” A portion of those guidelines most important to our plan follows:

Preventative Actions to eliminate the spread of COVID-19

  • The Governor has ordered that all public and private gatherings of 10 people or more are prohibited for the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation. This includes faith-based events.
  • Switch to and use disinfectant products that have been pre-approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use against emerging viral pathogens.
  • Disinfectants should be applied during routine cleaning all facility spaces.
  • Public spaces need to be cleaned frequently. If possible, provide disposable disinfectant wipes to disinfect surfaces. High touch areas should also be cleaned with disinfectant.

First and foremost, our advice to any visitor who does not want to become ill by visiting St. Joseph Catholic Church is for them to stay home. However, for those wishing to pray at this very important time in our Liturgical year, we offer the following options.

Park and Pray

A religious display with the Holy Eucharist which overlooks our east parking lot is visible in the west windows of our school building. We encourage all to park and remain in their cars as they pray and worship privately. This option will be made available throughout the required Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation isolation period, except for the period beginning midnight on Thursday, April9, 2020 until 8:00am on Sunday, April 12, 2020.

Private Prayer in Church

For those who wish to be inside of the Church for their prayer time, the option is made available for limited times with the following provisions.

  • At no time will more than 9 people be allowed inside of the worship space.
  • Volunteers will be on hand to assure that proper social distancing will be practiced.
  • At regular intervals all door handles, interior and exterior, will be wiped down with an EPA approved disinfecting solution. If, because of high demand no such solution is available, a CDC recommended bleach-water solution of 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water will be utilized.
  • Hand Sanitizer will be made available for those praying to utilize.
  • Signs will be posted on all doors indicating the need for social distancing and maximum number of occupants allowed inside.

During the hours the Church is open for private prayer, a member of the church staff who is an Illinois Licensed Professional Engineer and former McHenry County Board of Health President will be on hand to make sure these practices are followed and to address any situations which arise.

 


April 2, 2020
The prevention of the spread of the Novel Corona Virus remains paramount as we approach Holy Week. Revised instructions from the Governor of the State of Illinois have extended the stay-in-place order to at least May 1, 2020. We expect that the Bishop of our Diocese will likewise follow suit. Although we are disappointed to not be able to celebrate Easter publicly, know that we remain a parish family, albeit at a distance. Currently the Blessed Sacrament is on display in one of the Religious Education classrooms and will remain so 24 hours a day until midnight on Holy Thursday. We are pleased so see so many people taking this opportunity to venerate our Lord while maintaining social distance. The Blessing of the Palms will take place on Sunday but the Bishop has instructed the Clergy not to distribute them at this time. St. Joseph Church will be open from 10:00a to 12:00p for prayer. This is the first time the Church will be opened to the public so please maintain distance and if you are feeling at all unwell, please do not enter. We continue to send mailers out to parishioners with more information. Links to our Facebook page can be found on this website homepage, as well as links to our parish registration form. 
 

URGENT UPDATE: March 20, 2020, 4:45p
 
With the new shelter in place rules instituted by the Governor of the State of Illinois, the Church is compelled to obey this mandate. Therefore, no public celebration of Daily or Sunday mass will take place at St. Joseph Catholic Church through, and including, Holy Week and Easter Sunday, minimally. Any further celebrations of the sacraments such as confessions and all other devotions are abrogated. This includes the events planned for March 21 and 22, 2020.
 
The parish office will be closed at this time. Should an emergency need for anointing of the sick be required, call 815-678-7421 and leave a message.
 
We advise parishioners to check the Facebook page, Parish Website, and Flocknotes for additional updates.
 
In lieu of confessions, each person is asked to make an act of contrition after examining their conscience and saying five Hail Mary’s as a penance. Be sure to pray your divine mercy chaplet using your rosary and read the scriptures together Sunday in lieu of Mass.
 
Yours in Christ,
 
Monsignor Martin Heinz