Important to attend same parish as school?

Hello all. First post here. Need advice on parishes. Here is the back story.

So we are enrolled at a local parish and our children attend the parish school. All was going well. Then something happened related to the sex abuse scandal. Not directly to our family or anyone in the parish! Something in the diocese and I inadvertently found out that our pastor was on the side of the sex abuser, both in his actions and in his direct words to me. I don’t want to write too much more on that, because I don’t want to give away too many identifying details.

Since that day, I can’t physically walk into the church knowing what our pastor thinks about this.

So…we are blessed to live in an area with many parishes within a short distance, so we started going to another local parish for Mass.

Anyway, I loved our first parish in general. There were some things that could be improved, but in general, it is an orthodox parish and we were happy there. The only thing that drove me away is this incident with the pastor. And I can’t seem to move on. I know that I am being delusional to think that I can just switch where we go to Mass and get away from the scandal…I’m sure almost every parish/bishop has been affected somehow.

My main concern are our children, of course. If I was only concerned for myself, I would never go back to our parish. I could attend Mass anywhere and know that I was in the presence. However, it’s not that simple, especially since our children attend the parish school and we don’t intend to change that.

My main concern is…Am I possibly weakening their faith by attending a different parish than the one we attend for school? Even though we haven’t told them why we haven’t been going to Mass there, are they going to pick up on something? Am I saying it is somehow not good enough? I know that, for me, the combination of attending a Catholic school and the parish was so important growing up. I really felt like I was part of a family.

Any thoughts appreciated, thank you for reading this if you got this far.

I am so sorry your family has been affected by the sex scandal.

I would take a very pragmatic view of all this. In the case of parish schools the pastor is also the head of the school even if he is not responsible for the day to day educational aspects of running the school. I don’t think you can draw a distinction between the parish and the school.

If the presence of the pastor is interfering with your ability to worship in your parish I can understand you needing to attend Mass elsewhere, at least for a while. I’m not sure if you also wish your family to refrain from worshiping there. It’s long been the case that children of parishioners are given priority in Catholic schools. If you stop attending Mass and supporting the parish financially you may not have the choice of attending this school.

Since I don’t know all the details of your situation I would not dream of telling you what you should do. I just think you need to consider more of the ramifications and costs of whatever you might do.

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. For now, we would remain parishioners even if we did attend Mass somewhere else. The parish does require that you be registered as parishioners and give a certain amount each year to the parish to get the parishioner tuition rate. We would probably remain parishioners, at least until all of the First Communions are complete, since that is merged with the religious ed at the school. Then we would have to make a decision to switch to non-parishioner status I guess and join another parish. Ugh, it’s just all so complicated and painful really. Thanks again for your kind thoughts.

Well I would say that you don’t know everything about the abuse so you are jumping to conclusions based on insufficient information. Whatever happened you are not privy to the inside truth. Give that pastor some credit for knowing more about it than you do. Kind of hard to explain why you are keeping your kids in the school parish and yet not attending church there.

If he is on the side of the sinner… as christians we are all sinners. (regardless to the grade of our sin) He may have more information to the whole of that situation which you have not got and sometimes all is not what it seems

                                           Please remember the verse about casting the stone first

If you want to follow the sheep then please do

If you want to follow Jesus Christ then please do

What you do next about the situation will indicate whether you follow sheep or follow Jesus Christ?


Not everyone that is accused of sexual abuse is actually guilty of the crime. My family has had experience with being falsely accused of a sexual crime and it can be quite horrible. I think if this was bothering me so much that I’ve had to attend Mass at a different parish, I’d at least talk to the priest at the original parish and give him a chance to tell you why he is on the side of the accused. I’d at least give him the chance to hear your difficulties with attending Mass where he is the priest.

Someone at our parish was accused of sexual abuse and our wonderful priest was 100% on his side as were most of the parishioners, even though the rest of the community probably thought him guilty as sin. He was relieved of his duties by our bishop during the investigation which took a bit of time. However, he was completely exhonerated by the authorities and restored to his full duty within the parish. The point I am making is one should not jump to any conclusions until the truth comes out. I shudder to think if we as a parish had turned our back on this man. Our priest certainly didn’t and for that alone I admire him even more.

I did not write the details of the situation on purpose. So for you to say that I am jumping to conclusions is absurd, and frankly, extremely rude. And yes, the truth is out there, everyone knows the truth on this particular situation, so stop with your accusations towards me. I deliberately did not want to splash the details on here, because it could be identifying information, for both myself and for my pastor. The simple fact is I do not want to go back to my parish because of the sex abuse scandal and my pastor’s attitude and some of his actions regarding it. My question, if you bothered to even read my post, was wondering what people’s thoughts were on sending your child to a parish school but attending a different parish. Thank you for nothing.

I did. I don’t want to give out any more information, but yes, I have tried to speak with him and he made it worse.

Again, I deliberately did not write the details of the incident. But thanks for jumping to conclusions.

Again, I did not write the details of the situation on purpose.

But thanks for accusing me of following the sheep and not following Jesus Christ. HOW DARE YOU.

With the exception of the first poster, thanks to all of you for accusing me of casting stones, falsely accusing priests and not following Jesus Christ. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Reread my first post and actually READ it this time. I did not write any of the details of the situation.

All you needed to know was that I am not comfortable going to my parish anymore, and that it is complicated because I have children in that parish school.

Thank you for making this all WORSE.

I’ll be signing off from here, so don’t bother responding anymore if your intent is to hurt me further. You should all be ashamed of yourselves (with the exception of the first poster).

How was I accusing you of casting stones or not following Jesus Christ? All I suggested is looking at the situation from a different point of view and giving you advice about talking to the priest directly. You didn’t indicate in your OP that you had a private conversation with the priest about you being uncomfortable with the situation, you said you inadvertently found out he sided with the accused priest. All I suggested was having a one on one conversation with your pastor to at least give him the chance to explain why he feels the way he does. There was no intent on my part to hurt you further or accuse you of being any less of a concerned parent and fellow Catholic trying to understand the situation the best way they know how. The only way I could think to understand the situation was to suggest talking to the priest, one on one. Nothing more and nothing less.

If you mistrust the pastor, why do you want your children in the parish school, where, presumably, he is an authority figure?

Hi. I attend a parish that doesn’t have a school. Been there almost 20 years.
So my little girl goes to Catholic school in another town. I registered at that parish as well – with complete and full consent of both pastors. I am active at both parishes. It’s a little bit of a juggling act on special occasions, but we’re making it work. So, as someone who worships at one place and sends a kid to another, yes, it is doable. Good luck!

Just wanted to come back and clarify…

My pastor did not do anything. This does not involve my family, anyone I know personally, including any priests I know personally.

It has to do with a dealt-with, but ongoing, publicly-known problem in our diocese stemming from our bishop. It has already been dealt with in a court of law, but it continues to be an issue, because of our bishop’s actions.

I went to speak with our pastor about this, and how much it all disturbed me, and I was deeply disturbed by his response to me. Now I cannot set foot in the church. I wont get into his response, but all that matters is that I cannot be a part of his parish anymore. Something that is very painful for me.

That is why I am looking for a new parish, but it is complicated by the fact my children are enrolled in this parish’s school. If we weren’t in the school, this would be a non-issue for our family as we would have moved on to a new parish, end of story.

My question, which is at the end of my original post, is asking what people’s opinions were on attending a different parish for Mass vs the school.

I probably should not have written the reason but just stuck with the question perhaps. Anyway, I just wanted to make that clear. Thanks to those who were thoughtful in their responses.

Well to answer the question then, it really depends upon the requirements of your school concerning registered parishioners. My daughter has been enrolled at two different parish schools, one didn’t require school families to be members of the parish, the other did. The one that did have the requirement, also had a discount and a waiting list for each grade for those families not registered with the parish. So it only made sense that we registered with the parish associated with the school to ensure we were enrolled each year and get the discount. Also, this parish was very, very active with the school and its activities. The school family and atmosphere extended into the whole parish community. The one that didn’t have any requirements to be registered with the parish, there were so many families registered at various parishes, it didn’t make any difference where one attended Mass.

Sorry Breda
Looking back at my post I will admit that I was being a little bit too high and mighty righteous there. :blush: I personally didn’t want to know the private details of why you needed to change… just the whether you can change schools with parishes question and that really had got overlooked by me on the face of too much other information that got in the way and really shouldn’t have been posted on a public space. Most of us do post far too much in reality and don’t like it when we get back what we do get back at times. But am sorry and shouldn’t have said what I did in the way I did because it wasn’t the question you were trying to make. I got confused into what you were really saying at the beginning.

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