Despite no public Masses, Shrine grounds, apparition site remain open

GREEN BAY — There are no public Masses being celebrated at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion during the COVID-19 crisis. However, the shrine grounds and apparition site remain open.

The shrine is following the March 17 guidelines of Bishop David Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. Public Mass celebrations across the diocese  were suspended on March 20. When public Masses resume is yet to be determined, but will not be until at least mid-April.

A statue of Our Lady of Good Help appearing to Adele Brise stands outside of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help’s Mercy Hall in Champion. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

Shrine communications coordinator and events coordinator, Corrie Campbell explained that the site’s management had decided to keep the grounds, chapel and oratory open their usual 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. hours. Confessions (at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily), with the Fathers or Mercy at the shrine, also remain the same.

“It’s particularly difficult at the shrine,” explained Fr. John Girotti, diocesan vicar for Canonical Services and associate moderator of the Curia, “because it is a place of refuge, a place of healing. And so to say that there will be absolutely nothing going on there, goes against the purpose of the shrine. But if we have people congregating, people will get sick — which also goes against the purpose of the shrine.”

Campbell added that the shrine’s gift shop and café will also remain open their regular hours of 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily, “with the practice of social distancing and limits on how many can be in one room together.”

She also announced that the shrine’s 8:30 a.m. daily Mass (celebrated privately by the Fathers of Mercy with one or two shrine staff serving as readers) will be streamed on Facebook facebook.com/ChampionShrine as well as at the shrine’s website at championshrine.org.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Campbell said, “and do everything we can to allow our pilgrims to enjoy their spiritual life on site and remotely through personal prayer and reflection and administration of the sacraments.