How did you pick your parish?


DH and I are in the process of changing parishes. We currently go to a very small, traditional church…but there are very few opportunities for involvement for young couples and young children. There are 3 different parishes that we are thinking about going to, but they all have their positives and negatives. Anyone have any insight into how you chose the parish that you decided to attend?


Well, when we lived in an area that had a few choices to pick from, we just spent some time visiting each one. We started with parishes closest to home, and then branched out to those that would require more driving.

It just depends on what is important to you. When we visited one church, we "fell in love" with the priest. He was a good homilist, very friendly and welcoming, and easy to talk to. The community was also very welcoming and friendly, so we felt like we fit right in. For us, those things were important. I've had friends who picked different churches because they wanted their kids to attend the schools attached to those parishes.


We went back to one of the churches I grew up with. It’s close to us and I’ve a history (albeit brief) with them, despite the priest being new too. The only other church I would consider going to for us, is too far away. I don’t drive. But now that the 11 week metro strike has ended, perhaps we too can expand our horizons.

Like SummerSmiles, our current church, the priest is very warm and welcoming and very approachable. Something I needed upon first returning.


We live practically across the street from the parish that my husband and I both grew up at. Our kids go to school there (the principal is very CATHOLIC) and it's just one huge "family" atmosphere.
The priests are a bit liberal and we're looking forward to our pastor's retirement one day - maybe having a bit more of a traditional bent would be NICE... but our parish life makes up for it...


We live about 4 blocks from ours and the next nearest one is about 6-7 miles away. Not to mention, we had kind of gotten familiar with the church by going to some of the "fall festivals", Pancake breakfasts and other events they have on a regular basis. Some of my wife's friends go there as well.


Believe it or not, we called the chancery office and asked what our geographic parish was. I think the woman on the other end of the line could've been knocked over with a feather. That's a good place to start, but it doesn't always work out. There is a reason the Church does not restrict us to a certain parish.

If I had young children and had it to do over again, I'd sit in on some religious education classes at the parishes I had in mind. If the parish had a school, I'd visit it. I'd see if I could sit in on the meetings of the parent-teacher organization, if that was in place. (There are perfectly acceptable schools that function well without a formal parent-teacher organization.) More importantly, IMHO, I'd attend a few of the school Masses, because it tells you so much about both reverence and how discipline is carried out at the school. You are the primary educators of your children, but it makes a world of difference if you foresee no quarrels with the secondary educators who will be helping you.

Ask yourself if the formal educators and other parents at your parish will be more or less on the same page with you as you raise your children in the faith than at the other parishes available. Can you be friends about the faith in this parish? You can live without this facility or that, you can even live with a pastor that is not particularly gifted in speech, but you need a pastor and fellow laypeople whose hearts and hands will be an encouragement towards virtue. It is not vital that the sentiments of the entire cast of parishioners suit you--I actually think that it is very good to have to pray with some of the Catholics we don't agree with--but you want to know that the core people who are active are people you can be one with, that you can become close to.

This is what St. Therese of Avila had to say on the subject:
"It frightens me sometimes to think of the harm a bad companion can do, and if I hadn't experienced it I wouldn't believe it. Especially during adolescence the harm done must be greater. I should like parents to learn from my experience to be very watchful in this matter."


I suppose the "official" answer to this question is that you should go to your territorial parish. With that said, I don't attend my territorial parish.

When I was looking for a parish home, there were several things that were important to me. Your list might be different. :)

I was interested in how the priest(s) prayed the Mass. I've been to Masses where the priest might as well have been reading the newspaper to us -- it just didn't feel prayerful or holy. So I wanted a parish where the priest truly prayed the Mass.

I was interested in the priest's homilies. I wanted to walk away feeling inspired or informed or challenged by the homily.

I was interested in how participative the congregation was. I've been to Masses where I felt like I was the only person responding or singing and I don't like that. So I was hoping for a parish where the people participated.

I was interested in the music. Did it contribute to the Mass? Did it feel like something that was just thrown in? The choir didn't necessarily have to be at a professional level, but it should sound like they had rehearsed.

The items above are kind of a mix. I basically want to come away from Mass feeling like I'm fired up to take on the world.

My last question was whether there was an opportunity for me to get involved in the parish. I wouldn't be satisfied with simply coming on Sunday morning. I wanted to know that there was a place I could contribute to the parish. This is the only criterion that I would consider a deal breaker. If the parish had everything else but no place for me to contribute, I knew it wasn't for me.

The parish I chose was the one that had the best mix of those qualities.


My geographic parish was way too liberal for me, and I didn't like the RCIA program there. Thinking back on it, if I would have stayed there, I may have had the opportunity to help someone out who was possibly being improperly catechized, but I'm glad I made the decision to leave and go to the parish I attend now.

Mass at the parish I attend is offered in both forms, and all the Masses are great. The priests and the community as a whole are very orthodox, and I love the music, especially in the Tridentine Mass, now that our Latin Mass choir has drasticly improved. I could almost bet money that you'll hear at least one Palestrina composition per month there, especially if you stick around for the Tridentine Mass, and you'll even hear one every now and then at the Novus Ordo. As you can probably tell, the music at Mass also played a big part in my decision on which parish to attend. Even though the parish I attend is huge, it still feels like a close family, and I've made quite a fiew friends there. The perpetual Adoration chapel is also a huge plus.


Thank you for all the responses! All 3 parishes are relatively the same distance away, with 1 being a bit closer than the other 2. I think that the biggest thing my husband and I are looking for is a parish that we can get involved in and meet other Catholic couples our age with young children. I guess we will just have to go to all 3 parishes a couple times and see what suits us. I have also been looking up all of their bulletins online. My husband really doesn’t want to spend a lot of time searching, b/c he wants to maintain some consistency with our daughters. Is it rude to call up the parish office and ask them what kinds of programs they have available?


[quote="MirMom, post:9, topic:227360"]
Is it rude to call up the parish office and ask them what kinds of programs they have available?


I don't think it's at all rude. And I don't know that I would just call the parish office. Talk with the pastor and ask your questions. You'll get your answers and it lets him know what's important to potential parishioners. You can also let him know something about yourself, your family, and ways that you can help the parish.


[quote="MirMom, post:9, topic:227360"]
Is it rude to call up the parish office and ask them what kinds of programs they have available?


Not at all, I wouldn't hesitate to do so if particular programs were important to me. I'm sure they would be glad to hear from a possible new parishioner! :)


Yes, check the newsletters. Go to Mass there a few times as well. Go to some of the church events and talk with people and get a feel for the community.


Geographically i belong to one parish, but my RCIA classes i took at another parish which i also attend masses at mostly (eve masses or sometimes weekday masses).

In Oslo, Norway where i live - there are actually three churches within a geographic area i
can attend.

“My parish” used to be run by dutch and later polish franciscans before secular priests took over in 2008. What made me pick it as my parish? The franciscan history and that it used to be a monestary as well.

I like the place, the spirituality there, the people and a great parish priest.


PS: here is a picture of the prayer chapel.


I joined the Parish I was raised and baptized in. In fact, my whole family, Parents, siblings, and our children/spouses all still attend mass together as a family unit every Sunday.

Personally, I would first check out the website for each parish. That way you can see what time masses are as well as other activites and groups in the parish. Then I would visit each parish for a Sunday mass. I would go for atleast 1 mth before deciding for or against a parish.

While we only have 1 full time Priest in my parrish, we have 4 or 5 visiting Priests so just because you don’t like or feel a connection with the Priest on the 1st week, doesn’t mean that you won’t if you give the Parish a fair chance. You can also call the Parish Office and ask to schedule a tour of the Parish and that would give you an opportunity to meet and interact with the Pastor or Parish Priest on a one on one basis.

Good Luck with your search. I truly believe that a good parish community is essential to a good faith basis


[quote="Maureen1125, post:14, topic:227360"]
Personally, I would first check out the website for each parish. That way you can see what time masses are as well as other activites and groups in the parish. Then I would visit each parish for a Sunday mass. I would go for atleast 1 mth before deciding for or against a parish.


I think a lot can be learned by reading the bulletins posted online.

Also, the week of January 30-February 5 is Catholic Schools Week for 2011. Active Catholic parents with young children tend to gravitate towards parishes with healthy parish schools. If you get online today/tonight, you might be able to visit one or more parish school open houses, as there are many taking place this Sunday. Look for a school with an active service program for at least the 7th and 8th graders. If you can't make them all, this will be the week when parish schools will be the most eager to host or arrange for visits.


We attended Mass at all the nearby parishes when we first moved to the area - any that were within a 15 or 20 minute drive - to see which was the best fit for our family (and which had CCD hours that worked best for our schedules). One of the closest Churches won out, but we often continue to go to the others occasionally if the Mass times work better for our weekend plans. We also have "switched" temporarily to another Church other than our "main" Church through the years when we were not real pleased with the actions or viewpoints of a few Priests who happened to have been transferred there. They never lasted too long (maybe because others felt the same way and Mass attendance was down), so we eventually found our way back to the original preferred Church.

Good luck to you in your search, and God bless.


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