Names of COVID-19 victims to be read during All Souls Day Mass at cathedral

On All Souls Day, Nov. 2, Catholics are invited to attend a special liturgy at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in which the names of those who have died of COVID-19 will be read or displayed as a way to encourage prayers for them. (Detroit Catholic file photo)

Special Nov. 2 liturgy invites prayer requests from families who have lost loved ones throughout the year, especially from COVID-19

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DETROIT — All Souls Day is always a chance for the Church to remember and pray for the faithful departed, but particularly so this year, when COVID-19 has impacted so many southeast Michigan families.

The feast day, celebrated Nov. 2, allows Catholics to pray in a special way for the souls of those in purgatory — those who are working toward eternal bliss in heaven, but need a little help in prayer.

The feast day is of particular importance to Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, said Joe Balistreri, director of music for the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament and coordinator of music ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

“The archbishop has long expressed interest in cultivating more intercession for the faithful departed, so we have annually included a particularly solemn All Souls Day Mass on the cathedral schedule,” Balistreri said.

A statue of an angel is seen at St. Joseph Cemetery in Monroe. (Naomi Vrazo | Detroit Catholic file photo)

In 2020, when the global pandemic has devastated families who have lost loved ones to illness, the Church grieves with such families and wants to offer consolation, Balistreri said.

“This year, discussions led to this (All Souls Day) Mass focusing in a particular way for all of those who have passed from COVID-19,” Balistreri said.

In the weeks leading up to the Mass, the faithful will be invited to submit the names of those who have died of COVID-19 to be included in the prayers of the faithful. The names will then either be read or displayed on a large screen, and congregants will be invited to pray in a special way for them, Balistreri said.

The 7 p.m. Mass, which will be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Gerard W. Battersby and cathedral rector Fr. J.J. Mech, will include a special 12-voice schola singing the Victoria Requiem, “one of the great treasures of Renaissance music,” Balistreri said.

The Mass will be open to the public, but also will be livestreamed. Virtual and physical congregants will be invited to visit a webpage with resources for Christian grieving.

A stained-glass window depicting Christ’s Sacred Heart is seen inside a mausoleum at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield. (Naomi Vrazo | Detroit Catholic)

In 2013, the archbishop wrote a pastoral letter on Christian burial and funeral rites, in which he stressed the graces and blessings that the Church can receive and offer for those in purgatory.

“Our belief in the communion of saints gives us the consolation of knowing our prayers are of great benefit to those who have died in Christ and are now undergoing purification in purgatory, in preparation for the glory of heaven,” Archbishop Vigneron wrote then.

Throughout November, which is traditionally dedicated to praying for the faithful departed, Catholics will have other opportunities to remember loved one who have gone.

  • Sunday, Nov. 1: Day of the Dead celebration at Our Lady of Hope Cemetery, 18303 Allen Rd, Brownstown Charter Township (2-6 p.m.)
  • Monday, Nov. 2: All Souls Day Mass at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 25800 W 10 Mile Road, Southfield, celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Arturo Cepeda in the Rotunda Chapel (9 a.m.)
  • Monday, Nov. 2: All Souls Day Mass at Our Lady of Hope Cemetery’s St. John Paul II Mausoleum with Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Battersby (11 a.m.)
  • Friday, Nov. 6: Mass in the Chapel of Light at St. Joseph Cemetery, 909 N Monroe St., Monroe, celebrated by Fr. Giancarlo Ghezzi, PIME (9 a.m.)
  • Saturday, Nov. 7: Annual nighttime drive-through at Our Lady of Hope Cemetery and Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. The main thoroughfares at each location will be lined with luminary bags that families have decorated with the names of deceased loved ones. (5:30-7:30 p.m.)
  • Friday, Nov. 20: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery and Our Lady of Hope Cemetery will host Third Friday Masses (9 a.m.)

At each All Souls Day Mass, Catholic families will be invited to participate in the “Gather Them Home” program, which was implemented in 2016 as a way to encourage families to bring the remains of cremated loved ones to be laid to rest at no charge. For information, visit