Can I attend another church regularly that isn't my home church?

Short summary: We are members of a certain parish. At the time we joined, the only other church close to us was meeting in a school and my husband did not want to attend in a school. So, my children have received their Baptism, first Confession and Communion at this first church, I was confirmed there, and we had our marriage convalidated there. But… it is far more liberal than I care for… no crucifix (a risen Christ instead), the teen Mass is LOUD, and other such things but not the point of this post.

In the meantime, the other church built a permanent structure, and I LOVE it! It is far more conservative with altar boys, no wild music at the teen Mass, a conservative, old-fashioned altar, etc. I feel at home there, and attend every chance I get.

My husband essentially never attends Mass (I think twice in about 2-3 years) but doesn’t want our family to switch memberships because we “have a history” at the first church. OK… I don’t nag about it. But, my heart isn’t there. Is there any reason it is wrong to keep attending a parish when I don’t know when I can officially become a member? I know I can not sign up to teach, etc. as long as I am not a member there, so I wonder what else I would not be allowed to do.

I hope this doesn’t sound silly, because it is weighing heavily on my heart.

Not to hijack this thread, but a closely related question: Is it necessary to join the geographically nearest parish, or is it OK to join a neighboring parish, based on situation similar to that described by the OP?

Of course you can attend whatever parish you want to. There are no restrictions.

You should talk to the priest and explain the situation, that you do not want to transfer membership in order not to ruffle your husband’s feathers. It does not automatically follow that you cannot participate, teach, etc, just because you aren’t registered. Also, you could register there as a contributor, or a CCD family only, or some other way to register while you remain registered at the other location too. Talk to the parish administrator about how you can do that.

The church encourages daily mass even and in an urban environment especially, Catholics attend all over. Obviously one church would be in charge of your records though, like when your kids eventually get married.

I hope your husband comes around. It’s ironic that he has an opinion even though he attends so irregularly

Yes you can, you can even attend one that is not your Ritual Church. I attend a Ukrainian parish (Byzantine Rite) even though I am canonically Latin and a perfectly good Roman Catholic parish is just 2 blocks from where I live.

In my area there’s 3 RC parishes close to one another and its perfectly normal for people to move from one parish to the next, depending on if they like the priest or some other reason.

Yes. “Joining” a parish is not a canonical act, it is mostly for charitable-donation purposes.

You can go to any church you wish. It can even be any Catholic church, Latin or otherwise.

My mother lives physically much closer to the parochial church of a neighbouring parish, so she goes there as it’s more convenient for her.

To digress slightly: can you please remind me why your register in parishes in the US?

Well in Canada, it’s mainly so you can be on the mailing list

Gauge membership, funding and viability of the parish.

Records also don’t automatically go to the parish where you canonically belong, but to the parish where you are baptized, at least here in Canada. My son was baptized in the hospital on the other side of town, so the Baptismal record is in the parish where the hospital is geographically located and not our home parish or parish where we’re registered.

Also for receiving Sacraments. Some parishes will not baptize your children or let you get married if your not a parishioner or without permission from your parish priest. So who is your parish priest? The pastor of the parish you are registered to.

Your husband, your children, and you are required to do the following:
Can. 989 After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is ob-liged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year.

Can. 1247 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.

Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.Note: it doesn’t say in which parish you must fulfill those obligations.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind: if you want to have your children confirmed,
Can. 890 The faithful are obliged to receive this sacrament *(confirmation)*at the proper time. Parents and pastors of souls, especially pastors of parishes, are to take care that the faithful are properly instructed to receive the sacrament and come to it at the appropriate time.Your pastor is the pastor of the parish in which you are registered (it need not be the geographic parish in which you are located, but you are to be registered there).

You may have a hard time getting your kids confirmed unless they go through that pastor’s CCD program at that parish and you all meet the participatory requirements of that parish.

In addition, if you have more kids, you may have a hard time getting them baptized in that parish unless you are active in that parish (the pastor could claim that he wouldn’t want to baptize the kids because you all aren’t “practicing Catholics”)

In addition, if your kids get married some day, they will, in all probability, need to be registered in that parish (or another one where they are living as adults) so that they could substantiate that they are practicing Catholics. If you set the example of never attending their own parish, they may not think of it being important to register in a parish.

Also, there is the issue of the obligation to provide the proper support for the clergy and the faithful. (At least a portion of) your donations should be going to your parish where you are registered. They are taxed by the diocese based upon the number of registered families…if you are registered there but are not active there, you are doing them a disservice.

Consequently, my recommendation would be to register at the parish you like participating in or to participate at least a little bit in the parish in which you are registered.

Good point. I think the marriage one is common - to be a registered member for a year beforehand, for instance.


In essence…the answers about attending where you want are probably correct…but the key is your bishop…the head of the Local/Particular Church (Diocese)…he and only he has the authority to set the parameters/rules about which parish you attend (which means where you are registered at and will provide support with your – time, talent and treasure).

The bishop ministers to you and your family…remember it is the bishop who is responsible for your spiritual welfare…everyone else is on his team to assist and help him (even auxiliary bishops)…but he( (the diocesan bishop) is and always remains the Shepard of your (soul)…as well as all the souls in his local Church.

It is in/with/through him that you are part of the Catholic Church…by his being in communion with the Pope, his fellow bishops – the successors to the apostles (The Twelve) – and the Magisterium of the Church.

So, I highly recommend that you check with the Chancery and find out the bishop’s policy/rule. Remember…if everyone attends where he wants…some parishes might not get or attain the support they need to remain open and then…the bishop will really have some “challenges” if he has to close a parish (which is/has been going on in most dioceses). So he has a spiritual and a temporal interest in which parish the members of his flock are registered (support).

Pax Christi

What do you mean, “not a member”? :confused:

You are a “member” of every Catholic parish in the whole world, if you are a Catholic at all.

As long as you are Catholic, have received the Sacrament of Confirmation, are over the age of 16, not in an irregular marriage, and you are asked to volunteer as a teacher, you may certainly do so at any parish in the Diocese in which you reside - there is no rule against this - my program would be in deep trouble, if so, since we rely on volunteer teachers from all over the city - most of them don’t attend the parish where the classes are held - no one has ever said that there is any problem with this. The Bishop is fully aware of our program - he wrote the curriculum that we use. :slight_smile:

Thank you so much for the answers! I have some things to think about…and do some extra-hard prayer that I can officially register in the parish I like so much. God may change hubby’s mind, who knows… :shrug: My children have attended RE at the first church for 6 years, but are not going this year (my daughter is having acute social anxiety issues and panics at going to RE classes… don’t know what is up with that… she won’t eat out either without having a panic attack, she just started therapy). However, this coming school year would be the year for my son to begin confirmation classes, so I need to get my ducks in a row. My son wants to be confirmed, is fine learning about the Church - but hates RE classes and doesn’t want to go to them. If he could just study the material and be tested he would be fine. Since hubby is somewhat supporting my son in this decision, I’m not sure what will happen. ::confused: I don’t know if any church would allow him to do that.

What doesn’t your son like about the classes? Two weeks ago my six year old was going into our parish chanting “I love church!” when I asked him why he said “I love my class!”. They use the RCL Benziger materials.

I have actually heard of that happening before. Very rare though. Again, something to talk about with your pastor.

(As a CCD teacher, I will tell you that the “hate the classes” is not that uncommon)

Well, he does not like the classes because he doesn’t believe that he is learning anything. I homeschooled my children using a Catholic homeschool program for several years, and we did religion every year. They learned a lot! The problem was (Ok, not a problem, but…) that in the RE classes at the parish the teachers would regularly say that my children knew way more than the other kids in the class. Not exaggerating, one teacher told my son he could teach the class, he was that far ahead of the other students. My daughter came home HORRIFIED at the beginning of her 5th grade year - reporting that there was a couple of kids that did not know who the Pope was, etc. So, indeed, they didn’t really learn anything about the Church that I had not already taught them. Having taught in the classes for 4 years, I can testify that more kids than not in a given class do NOT go to church on any sort of a regular basis.

My son did R.E. classes in 7th grade and was horrified at how the kids acted in the class, how much they did not know, etc. He felt that he was being forced to sit through a boring class that taught him nothing, doing juvenile exercises. The idea of retreats, etc. with the the kids - like happen in the confirmation classes - just frustrates him to no end, especially when he has other things he in involved with that require time (like Civil Air Patrol).

So, he isn’t turning his back on the Church, just the obnoxiously loud teen Mass that is a part of the program and the group activities at the parish where we registered as members.

Plus… :frowning: since his dad isn’t attending church hardly ever, he isn’t at driven to do things as he was when he was younger.

Maybe you should check out a Traditionalist parish where the kids have a higher percentage of being raised in the church and the priest might be more willing to do one-on-one instead of using curricula? Tough problem though. I know the Monsignor at my Basilica complains so many families disappear during the summer months when catechism and confirmation classes aren’t being offered.

As a convert, I find it so, so strange that so many Catholic fail in the Sunday obligation… and think nothing of it! It is a mortal sin after all… your son’s reaction makes me think of Lot: “For in sight and hearing he was just: dwelling among them, who from day to day vexed the just soul with unjust works.” 2 Peter 2:8

Talk to the priest about at-home religious education options.

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